NFC South: Cam Johnson

The Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers all had pre-draft sessions with the media. The New Orleans Saints didn’t have any media access, but we don’t want to leave them out.

So let’s turn to two of our in-house draft experts to discuss what the Saints may do in the draft.

Check out this Insider post by Steve Muench that lays out a draft plan for the Saints and throws out five potential picks. Muench starts with Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson in the third round and also has them taking defensive tackle Jaye Howard in the fifth round. Both picks make plenty of sense. The Saints don’t have picks in the first two rounds and they obviously have some needs on defense as new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo takes over. Spagnuolo emphasizes the importance of generating a pass rush almost exclusively from the front four. Aside from defensive end Will Smith, the Saints don’t have a strong pass-rusher. Muench says Johnson has the quickness to develop into a good pass-rusher. Howard also has potential as a pass-rusher in the interior. That could help because defensive tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Sedrick Ellis aren’t known for their pass-rushing skills.

In this Insider post , Matt Williamson writes about the four teams with the worst draft situations. As you would expect for a team short on picks, the Saints made his list. Then again, so did the Falcons.

In his analysis of what the Saints need, Williamson is in full agreement with Muench about the importance of adding some help to the defensive front. I think that’s pretty much the consensus on where the Saints’ biggest needs are.

Let’s bounce back to Muench’s picks for the Saints. His last one might be the most intriguing. He has the Saints taking Western Michigan wide receiver Jordan White in the seventh round. White doesn’t have a lot of upside and he’ll be a 24-year-old rookie. Once upon a time, 2006 to be precise, the Saints used a seventh-round pick on a receiver who wasn’t supposed to have a lot of upside. That wound up working out very nicely. That pick was used on Marques Colston.

Keeping an eye on Indy

February, 23, 2012
Most of the NFL world is in Indianapolis for the scouting combine. We’ll be keeping tabs on things up there from a distance.

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano and Carolina coach Ron Rivera are scheduled to speak to the media late Thursday afternoon. We’ll bring you highlights of what they have to say. This will be only the second time Schiano has spoken to the media since his hiring. Now that he’s had some time to get settled in, we may get updates on the future of Ronde Barber and some official word on where Schiano stands on filling out his staff of assistant coaches.

No word yet if New Orleans coach Sean Payton or Atlanta coach Mike Smith will meet with the media. As we wait for things to develop in Indianapolis, let’s take a look at another mock draft. This one is from Charlie Campbell.

He has the Bucs taking LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at No. 5. Just about every mock I’ve seen has the Bucs taking either Claiborne or Alabama running back Trent Richardson. I can see the Bucs going either way if all things are equal between those two players.

At No. 9, Campbell has Carolina taking LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers. That’s the trendy pick for the Panthers right now. But let’s see if the combine workouts change anything.

The Saints and Falcons don’t have first-round picks, but Campbell’s draft goes four rounds deep. With the 55th overall pick, he has the Falcons selecting Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson. That makes a lot of sense on the heels of the news that John Abraham isn’t likely to re-sign with Atlanta.

Campbell also has the Saints taking a defensive lineman at No. 59. He has them taking Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin. I think the Saints also could be looking for a defensive end here, but Martin makes sense because he can generate some pressure from the middle of the defensive line.