After back-to-back early playoff exits, the Saints were once again in a position to add stability to one of the more talented NFL rosters.
General manager Mickey Loomis has been the engineer behind adding high-caliber players like Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams and a host of others. New Orleans hoped to continue to add to the trend and did when it returned to the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft after surrendering its 2019 first-round selection in a trade-up to acquire defensive end Marcus Davenport.
In this new series, I will analyze quotes that stuck out the most from executives’ pre- and post-draft press conferences. Below are quotes from Loomis.
Question: Can you go into what you personally liked about Cesar Ruiz as a player? I don't think we've asked your opinion on that yet.
Loomis: "Yeah, listen, first of all, you love the talent. You love the quality of the player, but he fits in perfectly with the things that we've identified as the Saints player. He's intelligent, he's tough, not just tough but gritty in terms of how he's conducted himself. He's endearing to his teammates and yet as a lot of leadership qualities. There's nothing that we don't like about the player so we're excited to have him."
Analysis: The Saints already had a strong offensive front but elected to add to one more player to strengthen in further. Ruiz, the youngest offensive lineman in the 2020 class, wasn't on the radar of many NFL teams heading down the backstretch of the season. His buzz took a significant turn during the pre-draft process.
My pre-draft take from Ruiz’s player profile:
“Ruiz entered Ann Arbor with plenty of hype, and he firmly lived up to it. He will enter [NFL] rookie mini-camp as a 20-year-old player. He got better as [his collegiate season] progressed and that’s exactly what you want to see from a younger prospect. With experience at both center and guard, Ruiz has versatility to [bring to] the next level. His strong hands and superior ability to latch on to win quick in a phone booth makes him a better fit in a man/power-based blocking scheme, but an argument can be made that he’s scheme proof and can play in any type. Ruiz projects as a top-40 selection, who should go on to be a starter very quickly and have a long-lasting career at either guard or center.”
Question: On trading up for Zack Baun, did you say you tried to go up as high as pick No. 33?
Loomis: “I think it was [a] fair value. I feel like our group spent all day on the phone. We were trying forever to make the deal that eventually got us Zack Baun. We tried every team between where we were at pick No. 88 and pick No. 33. Every team we talked to, we talked to a bunch of them. There were a few times we felt like they were close to making a deal and then that fell through. Eventually, we get to the pick where we got Zack and then as we're sitting there and we're just seeing [Adam Trautman who was] kind of out there by himself on our board so we started calling. We had probably 10 or 12 teams that we'd called and had a couple that were close, but ultimately it was Minnesota and [we were] able to get that done. So we're pretty excited about it.
"Honestly, we didn't have enough resources to get to the top of the second round. But you always call and ask, right? We spoke to every team and there was a number of teams that have multiple picks in the second round. So you talk to those teams, those are kind of the first ones on your list because oftentimes if you have two picks in a round, you're a little more willing to back out on your second choice, pick up more picks. So those were our first targets and a couple of those teams had higher picks as well as a pick later in the round."
Analysis: Baun was seen as a possible first-round selection ahead of the draft, but the Saints were able to add him in the third round. It was a coup to an already impressive defensive line. Baun brings unlimited versatility to one of the best three-level defenses in the entire league.
My pre-draft take from Baun’s player profile:
“[Baun is] a combination defensive end and outside linebacker; [he] explodes out his stance to routinely race past blockers. His motor and relentlessness show up early and often. His hustle and effort in backside pursuit are unmatched. Possessing natural pass rush moves, he’s able to perform phenomenal sack production and prove that he’s more than just speed getting up the field in a hurry. The team that drafts Baun will have [to] decide on where to play him, but he brings lots of versatility and value in multiple facets of the game. Baun has the ability to be a chess piece, but he must be used in proper ways in order for a team to receive full value on their investment.”
For more “General Manager Speak,” see Cincinnati, Miami, Detroit, Arizona, New York, Giants, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina, Oakland, San Francisco, Minnesota, Atlanta, Green Bay and Philadelphia’s executives discuss their 2020 draft class.
- May 25, 2022
- May 21, 2022