- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House Republicans unveil bill to speed deportations of border children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
Loomis: A rookie center could start for Saints
Question of the Day
The center position is a complicated one, requiring reading defensive fronts and making pre-snap calls to fellow blockers. But Loomis said the Saints have the experience at both guard spots and at quarterback to make the transition from college to the NFL a quick one for a smart, talented rookie center.
“Obviously when you are drafting a center, intelligence, mental quickness - those are the things that you want to make sure you are high on before you draft a guy to play that position,” Loomis said.
Brian de la Puente, who left in free agency for Chicago, started at center in New Orleans for most of the past three seasons.
His backup last season was rookie Tim Lelito, whose only playing time came at guard. The Saints have yet to sign another free agent center to compete with Lelito, but former San Francisco and New Orleans center Jonathan Goodwin remains on the market.
Whoever takes over as starting center will line up between seven-year veteran left guard Ben Grubbs and eight-year veteran right guard Jahri Evans while snapping the ball to 14th-year quarterback Drew Brees - all three of whom made the Pro Bowl last season.
“For us with two veteran guards in Ben and Jahri, it is going to make it easier for a center,” Loomis said. “With a quarterback like Drew, who does a lot of the identifications and makes a lot of the calls, that makes it easier, so it definitely makes it possible, probably a little easier with our team than some others.”
Many draft analysts have listed Southern Cal’s Marcus Martin and Colorado State’s Weston Richburg as the top two centers in this year’s draft. Both are widely projected to be taken either late in the first round or in the second.
Barring a trade, the Saints‘ first-round pick will be the 27th overall, leaving them in prime position to choose one of the top two centers, even if they opt to trade down a few spots in exchange for extra picks. The position is an important one for the Saints, whose prolific passing offense relies on the middle of the line’s ability to hold the front of pocket steady so the 6-foot Brees can see passing lanes and step up and throw.
The Saints, however, generally try to go with the best available player, regardless of position, when they make a selection. Loomis also has said the Saints have few holes on the roster, giving them flexibility in this draft.
The Saints also could benefit from more depth and talent at receiver, cornerback, defensive end and linebacker.
Loomis said the Saints used 29 of the maximum allowable 30 visits by individual prospects, evaluated 40 to 50 players in their local workout (players who are either from or went to college in the New Orleans area), interviewed 60 players at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, and spoke to other players at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Notes: Loomis described a recent decision not to exercise RB Mark Ingram’s 2015 option as purely a “financial decision” based on “the amount of the tender versus what the market value for running backs has been.” The Saints exercised a similar option for defensive end Cameron Jordan worth nearly $7 million by a May 3 deadline, but declined to do so for Ingram, whose option was worth $5.2 million. “I like Mark. I talked to Mark before we made that decision,” Loomis said. “I told him it wasn’t reflective on what we thought about him. It was just a business decision, a financial decision. We have high expectations for him and I hope he has a great year.”
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the "Islamic State" quickly and cheaply
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world