NO.saintseaglesdiv.011419 HS 531.JPG

Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland, left walks with Saints executive vice president and general manager Mickey Loomis on the field before kickoff in an NFL divisional round playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, January 13, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton and scouting director Jeff Ireland will be at the team's facility in Metairie on Thursday night, just like they always are for the first round of the NFL draft.

But will the Saints, who don't have a pick until the second round (the No. 62 pick overall), make any moves Thursday? Or will Saints fans just have to wait until Friday (rounds 2 and 3) and Saturday (rounds 4-7) to see who will be the newest members of the team?

Time will tell, but the latter seems more likely.

"It's pretty hard to go from 62 into the first round, but we'll see what happens," Loomis said Monday during his annual pre-draft news conference.

The Saints gave up their first-round pick this time a year ago, trading it to the Green Bay Packers to slide up in the draft to select defensive end Marcus Davenport. The Saints gave up their third-round pick in the trade with the New York Jets that brought Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints. And the fourth-round pick was traded in exchange for New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple. So that leaves the team with six picks. In addition to the second-round pick, New Orleans also has a fifth-round pick, two sixth-round picks and a two seventh-round picks. One of the extra sixth-rounders came in the Bridgewater trade, while the extra seventh-rounder came in a deal with the Cleveland Browns for defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence.

With so few picks, the Saints are unlikely to move up.

"We're going to have to see somebody that we've got a target (on) and that we feel like we have to move on in order to even contemplate that," Loomis said. "We have less ammunition, less things to trade than we've had in the past. So that makes it a lot more difficult."

Not that the Saints feel there are many giant holes on the roster to fill anyway. The team filled some of its biggest needs in free agency, signing tight end Jared Cook, center Nick Easton, defensive tackle Malcom Brown and punt returner Marcus Sherels.

"We have a list of items we want to get accomplished, and I think for the most part we did that," Loomis said.

Now, they'll look to find more pieces in the draft, a task Loomis admits is tougher when most of the roster is set to return from last season's team that finished 13-3 and was a "no-call" away from probably playing in the Super Bowl. Last year's draft was a good example of just how hard it is for younger players to make the team. Of the seven players the Saints drafted, only three (Davenport, receiver Tre'Quan Smith and offensive lineman Will Clapp) are still on the team. Offensive lineman Rick Leonard, safety Natrell Jamerson, cornerback Kamrin Moore and running back Boston Scott were all released and ended up on other teams.

"When you have a good roster and you've had success, it is harder for younger players to make your team," Loomis said. "That's just the nature of this system."

Loomis said the team can find good players at No. 62 and in the later rounds. There are plenty examples of players on the roster the Saints have found at pick 62 or later. Alvin Kamara was the 67th pick. Alex Anzalone was 76th. Terron Armstead was 75th. It's more difficult, of course, because it's hard to tell who will be available.

"It's a fairly deep draft, and we're fairly confident that we're going to get a good player at 62," Loomis said.

And despite the lack of picks, this Thursday will be just like every other opening night for the draft for the Saints, who are without a first-round pick for the first time since 2012.

"We'll be on the phones and working the draft and managing the process," Loomis said.


Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.