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Thursday, April 28, 2011
Saints fill two needs in first round

By Pat Yasinskas

On a night when the usually-conservative Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons were taking leaps, they still got outdone by the NFC South’s most aggressive team.

Jordan
Jordan
Ingram
Ingram
The New Orleans Saints made their own big splash late in the first round Thursday night. They used their first-round pick on California defensive end Cameron Jordan. By itself, that move didn’t turn many heads. The Saints needed a defensive end and they got a solid one.

What happened next was the stunner. The Saints traded back into the first round and made a move that’s sure to be popular with their fans. They paid a steep price (their second-round pick this year and next year’s first-round choice) to get to No. 28. That’s where they took Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

Although they already have Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory, this move has the second coming of Deuce McAllister written all over it. Thomas, Bush and Ivory each are very good as role players. But Ingram basically can do what each of those guys does and can do it better. He should quickly become the best all-around running back on the roster.

And, let’s keep one other thing in mind about Ingram. Rookie quarterbacks and wide receivers often take time to make an impact. Rookie running backs usually contribute right away.

What the Saints did was a gutsy move. But it makes lots of sense. The Saints won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. They slipped to 11-5 last season and got bounced by Seattle in the first round of the playoffs.

The two things the Saints were lacking last year were consistency in the running game and enough pressure up front for the defense to create a ton of turnovers.

At least on paper, the Saints fixed both of those areas Thursday night and that could put them on a course to be a lot more like the 2009 team.