Saints mailbag: It's draft time; does that mean it's OK for coaches to lie? _lowres

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton calls out from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. The Saints won 44-23. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)


The first wave of free agency is over and the draft is now on the horizon. Here’s what readers are asking about now that the 2015 roster is coming together:

Payton or Belichick dish out more misinformation? Is it acceptable and expected to be lied to this time of year? — @Vooyah

I think there’s an expectation to be part of the smokescreens this time of year. And that’s no limited to coaches. That goes for anyone you speak with. Everyone has an agenda and sometimes telling the truth doesn’t help that cause. So, yes, I think you have to be aware that what you’re hearing could be less than truthful.

As far whether who spreads more misinformation between Sean Payton and Bill Belichick, I’m not really sure about that answer. This is my first offseason covering the Saints. Most of what Payton said last week at the owners meetings seemed to be genuine. But if anything in there was a smokescreen, I guess he’s spreading more misinformation.

During my four years covering Belichick, he’d just not answer questions. You can’t lie if you say nothing.

Do you think we can draft Amari Cooper and Paul Dawson in the first? — @OrtizJerrys0227

Definitely Dawson if they want him. Dawson could even be around in the second round. I definitely don’t see him as the No. 13 pick. On Cooper, the only way I see the Saints getting him in the first is if he slides. However, the team has the ammunition to move up for him if someone in the draft room is absolutely in love with his skills.

What should be the theme of this season? Besides do you job. — @MrTweetYoGirl

A lot of people already seem to be counting this team out, so I think the big theme for this season should be to “believe in one another because no one else believes in you.”

For the record, I’m not as down on this team as some others. I saw some good things last year. I think with a few improvements this team could be back in the hunt for the division title. The NFC South is weak and should remain weak. If Drew Brees cleans up some of his mistakes, the secondary and wide receivers come together, and the running game is what I think it will be, I could see this team winning some games in 2015.

Who is your ideal pick at 31? — @kirus16

I like Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest. I think the Saints could use a third cornerback and he seems to have the traits to be able to play in nickel packages and eventually develop into an outside cornerback.

That’s not intended to be a knock on the other cornerbacks currently on the roster. Delvin Breaux might be a perfectly capable option in the slot. I just haven’t seen enough of him to comfortably project that role for him. Brian Dixon and Terrence Frederick could also be options to cover the slot. But either way, you can never have too many good corners and there are too many unknowns there for me to comfortably say the Saints are set at this position.

If Cam does not sign extension prior to the draft, how likely could he be traded to free up $7M in cap space? — @ChampIAN_33

Sean Payton said last week that the Saints are trying to work out a long-term deal with Cam Jordan, so that indicates that he’s currently part of the team’s plans for 2015 and beyond.

It could be a smokescreen to boost Jordan’s value and let other teams know the Saints aren’t going to give him away. I, however, took Payton’s comments at face value. I don’t see this one as likely, but it could be possible.

We don’t know what’s going on in negotiations. Maybe Jordan wants more money than New Orleans is willing to pay. Maybe the negotiations are at an impasse and it appears a deal will not get done. If that’s the case, with the roster being reworked, it would make sense to move a player who will not likely be back and get something for him now.

But, again, I wouldn’t call this move likely.

Why is Dupree not rated higher? Physically the best at his position. But not highly rated and rarely discussed. — @blkNgoldlowrida

I haven’t noticed this about Bud Dupree. Pretty much everyone who covers this team has talked about him at some point and I recently put him as the No. 13 pick in my mock draft.

I like him a lot. He’s got a lot of upside. There are some areas where he’s still really raw, but I think his ceiling is pretty high and he could develop into a special player.

I should note, however, that someone far smarter than me, who is paid to pay attention to college prospects, recently told me that Dupree could be a “slight reach” at 13.

Do we need a starting OL from the draft of just go with Lelito? Also can you rank our priorities in the draft? — @MahmoundFallatah

I don’t see a need to pull a starter out of the draft. The Saints seem comfortable with Lelito. Having said that, I think New Orleans should look to find someone else at this position to serve as depth and eventually slide into the starting lineup. Jahri Evans is eventually going to go and keeping the middle of the pocket clean is paramount to success.

As far as needs go, I’d rank them like this:

1.Pass rusher

2. Linebacker

3. Offensive line

4. Cornerback

5. Wide receiver

6. Tight end

But I also wouldn’t be locked into anything. I’d take the best available players at areas of need.

If the Saints had the opportunity to draft Amari Cooper at 13, would you pull the trigger? — @Themegaduck99

I’m a big proponent of taking the best available players. If Cooper falls to 13, he would be the best available player at that spot. You absolutely pull the trigger.

Is Randy Gregory now a realistic option for the Saints at No. 13? And if he did fall, would you pull the trigger? — @JDayErrday

No one can deny Gregory’s talent. He’s a great player and would be a great pick at No. 13, if available. But you’re also drafting the person, and I don’t know how to feel about the person.

I wouldn’t disqualify a player from my program for smoking marijuana. What would make me uncomfortable is knowing that the player knew about this test for months and was unable to get clean in time. That says something about his discipline, smarts, and character.

I don’t know all the circumstances and haven’t sat down in a room and talked to Gregory about these issues, so it’s difficult to say if I would take a chance on him. I’ll leave that up to the teams that have been afforded the opportunity. If the Saints end up drafting Gregory, I’ll assume that they grilled him over these issues and felt comfortable with what he said.