Saints GM Mickey Loomis: If we can draft impact players like Will Smith, Hokie Gajan, 'we’ll have had a great weekend' _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD – Friends and relatives gather outside after the funeral for Hokie Gajan Friday, April 15, 2016, at St. Anselm Catholic Church in Madisonville. Gajan, a beloved former running back for LSU and the Saints and a WWL radio analyst, passed away Monday following a bout with cancer. He was 56.

New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis opened his pre-draft press conference on Wednesday by addressing the franchise’s tragic losses.

The Saints lost former defensive end Will Smith and fullback, scout and broadcaster Hokie Gajan in a three-day span, and the team celebrated both lives in memorial services on the same day at the end of that week.

“We’ve had a tough few weeks here with the loss of a couple people,” Loomis said. “I know this, if we can draft players that have the impact that Will Smith and Hokie Gajan have had on this organization and this community, then we’ll have had a great weekend.”

New Orleans’ front office dealt with the losses of Smith and Gajan at the same time as the Saints hit the final stretches of their preparation for the draft.

“I’m proud of our guys in that they kept grinding away, and yet were able to take some time and grieve Will and Hokie,” Loomis said. “We talked about them in our meetings, before our meetings a few days, and I think that was good for all of us.”