The players aren’t the only ones being impacted by the New Orleans Saints’ switch to a 3-4 defense. General manager Mickey Loomis said the personnel department also is adjusting.
“It’s changed, there is no question, because we are looking for different things and we are still trying to understand completely what [new defensive coordinator] Rob [Ryan] is looking for in a defensive player,’’ Loomis said. “It’s really the front seven that we are talking about here, but I think we have a really good handle on the type of player that he is looking for. We brought in a couple of guys from his team in Dallas in free agency and we have spent a lot of time talking to him about each of these college players that are draft eligible and how they would fit into our system.”
Loomis and coach Sean Payton have a history of drafting the best available player and that doesn’t always coincide with needs. But I think this draft could be different.
Even with their free-agent signings the Saints still need more players to fit Ryan’s scheme as he tries to overhaul a defense that ranked last in the NFL last season.
“We could line up and play today if we had to play, with a few practices,’’ Loomis said. “We’re just trying to add to that and improve. This draft is part of that process and, obviously, free agency was part of that process too, bringing in Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman and Keenan Lewis. We’ve got some elements. We have some expectations of some guys that we drafted last year, Akiem Hicks in particular, and then we are looking for good seasons from some of our veteran guys.”
There’s no question the Saints already have put some parts in place. But this defense is far from a finished product and this draft will be crucial. Even if there’s an offensive player the Saints really like at No. 15, I think they need to pass and get a defensive player who has a chance to be a difference maker.