Mailbag: New Orleans edition
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
We'll start a round of team-by-team mailbags Saturday afternoon. I'll hit New Orleans and Tampa Bay on Saturday and come back with Carolina and Atlanta on Sunday.
We'll start with the Saints.
Neil in Richmond, VA writes: You recently posted an article about Sean Payton looking for a power running back. I was shocked, not that we might grab a power back, but that Sean Payton would come right out and say so. Doesn't seem much like his personality. Is he just trying to let RBs already in the league know he's in the market? Any chance he's saying one thing but thinking another?
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I was surprised as you are when Payton came out at the owners' meeting and talked extensively about his desire to get a power back. Payton's not one of those guys who usually tips his hand about personnel moves. But he also isn't one of those guys who throws out smokescreens either. I think his interest in a power back is real and I give him credit for learning from the past. It was painfully clear the Saints needed a power back last season. That said, I don't think Payton's ready to get some big back and hand him the ball 30 times a game. This offense still is going to be built around Drew Brees and the passing game. But Payton wants someone to go with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush and give the Saints a little more consistency in the running game. A little bit of ball control should help the defense as well. I still think the Saints go defense with their first-round pick, but it wouldn't totally surprise me if they go with a running back in the first round.
Mike in Starkville MS writes: O.K. Pat, I'm liking the defensive additions so far this offseason for the Saints. But if we ranked 23 overall on defense last year and Jacksonville ranked 17, (according to NFL.com) and against the pass we were also 23 but Jac. was 24, even with these additions and subtractions, realistically, is Williams an upgrade since defending the passing game was our biggest weakness? And if he is, Could you explain it to me?
Pat Yasinskas: You're right that Gregg Williams didn't have a great year with Jacksonville last season. But he still is regarded as one of the better defensive minds in the league. He's going to bring an old-school, aggressive approach to New Orleans and I think that's what the Saints need. Williams needs to redeem himself a bit after Jacksonville, but I think the Saints have done a nice job putting some pieces in place. The signings of Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper should help the secondary, and Paul Spicer brings a lot of depth to the defensive line. The Saints are also getting a lot of injured guys back. We'll see how it goes. But I think the Saints have given Williams some good tools and that should help the defense a lot.
Ryan in Tigard, OR writes: If Jenkins is gone by the time the Saints pick, do you think they go with Vontae Davis (stock slipping), a big back like Wells, or do they trade down for more picks? Also, do you think Jenkins is their pick, or with Payton at the helm it is a RB at 14?
Pat Yasinskas: With all their defensive moves in free agency, I think the Saints have put themselves in a spot where they don't have to lock in on any position at No. 14. I still think they'll lean toward defense and Malcolm Jenkins would be the guy I'd take right now. He has the tools to play cornerback or safety. Last year showed you can never have enough defensive backs and the Saints could groom Jenkins as Sharper's eventual replacement for a year. I also could see them going with a defensive lineman or linebacker with the first pick. But I'm not going to totally rule out running back. Beanie Wells certainly is the type of power back the Saints could use. One other thing is the possibility of trading down. The Saints are holding only four draft picks. I could see them dropping down to the 20s and trying to pick up a second- or third-round choice.