Only 64 days until training camp, bitches!

Say, who else had Khairi Fortt and Tavon Rooks in their Final Full Saints-Only Mock Draft With Trades? Really, just me? Damn, you guys suck at this. I'd have nailed all six picks if the Saints hadn't done the one thing nobody ever sees coming and drafted a white defensive back. Seriously, WTF? And an Alabama dude, at that? No wonder Day 3 had everybody all confused and irritable. That is, until the UDFAs started rolling in. Nothing like a handful of UDFAs people have actually heard of to restore order and put the ol' kibosh on (most of) the inevitable internet hissy fits.

To call this here draft class as a whole "uninspiring at best" (at least at first glance) might actually be a charitable assessment. It was polarizing, for sure, but I suppose that's to be expected regardless. Hell, these days, every single thing that happens on planet Earth is polarizing. Once the internet becomes aware of it, anyway.

Even the selection of Brandin Cooks in the first round, which for the most part went over like gangbusters, wasn't without its share of criticism. And to be fair, most of that criticism was at least reasonable, even if you disagree with it. Most of it seemed to come down to one of two things: either giving up the 3rd round pick to move up wasn't worth it, or that they should have gone with a corner or some other guy instead. And there's nothing inherently wrong with either of those dissenting viewpoints, despite the shrill protestations of the "QUESTION NOTHING!" crew, which for the last several years has held its annual convention on the internet during draft weekend.

Still, it was about as popular a first round pick as I can remember, going at least as far back as Reggie Bush. And it's easy to see why. Cooks is about as perfect a need fit as possible. Even those who considered corner to have been the greater need freely acknowledge that the Saints were also in "desperate need" (to whatever extent) of a serious injection of speed at wideout. A blazing fast wideout is always gonna be a "sexy" pick anyway, but especially so for fans of a team whose bread and butter for close to a decade has been its historically effective offense, and a team that had begun to see that effectiveness slowly erode due to age and general staleness. Cooks is a "juice" pick, and those are always popular.

Aside from the relatively mild gripes based on theoretical alternative scenarios, and equally theoretical worry-wartish concerns about his relative lack of size, there's just nothing not to absolutely love about the Cooks pick. The speed is there. The skills are there. By all accounts, the character and intelligence are there. The potential for instant gratification via immediate impact on the field is easy to envision. An absolutely perfect fit for the team and the fans alike. And yet another example of the front office boldly "getting their guy" despite a general perception that he wasn't likely to be available to the Saints under just about any circumstances. What's not to love?

If Cooks was a 9.5 out of 10 on the excitement/fan-approval scale, Day 2 was probably about a 7. No longer having the 3rd rounder took some of the wind out of our sails right from the start, of course. And while the pick of Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the 2nd was fairly popular, reactions were most definitely mixed.

On one hand, corner was generally regarded as 1b at worst on the Saints' list of needs going in, and draft weekend is usually the time when Message Board Guy finally, mercifully, abandons any and all pretense of "BPA, PERIOD!!!" for the next ten months. That particular truism always, always, goes right out the window when the chips are down and you're actually on the clock. I know that's true because I was the only guy on Twitter shouting "DRAFT FOOTBALL!!!" at 20.

And Jean-Baptiste specifically had all kinds of things going for him from a popularity/fan-approval standpoint. Tall corners being currently in fashion. Richard Sherman comparisons. A fun, NOLA-relevant surname. A handful of first-round projections in various mock drafts as the actual draft drew near, and the resulting perception of "VALUE!!!" at 58. He had that most coveted "potential STEAL!!!" label bestowed upon him by the Legits, and he benefited from the name recognition and general-purpose echo chamber "buzz" on the message boards.

Nothing like a guy who emerges from relative obscurity, amasses a shit ton of pre-draft hype in a short amount of time, and then gets picked about a full round later than where the most optimistic of hype-fueled speculation had him going, to get fans excited. Even if only on grounds of "Our GM is smarter than yours." The only thing we love more than a can't-miss blue-chipper is the elusive "steal." Fans absolutely love thinking "Nobody was on to this guy but us!" LOOMIS!!!

On the other hand, "potential STEAL" wasn't the only label Jean-Baptiste had slapped on him. He also carries the dreaded "project" label, and nothing throws ice water on an instant gratification boner quite like that particular rap. "Boom or bust" doesn't exactly help either, especially considering the Saints' long and storied history of drafting shitty corners. And we Saints fans are particularly susceptible to the confusion and irritability the "boom or bust" label carries with it to begin with, because half of us flatly refuse to acknowledge the "bust" part and the other half of us flatly refuse to acknowledge the "boom" part.

And much like with the Cooks pick (or just about any pick, actually) there were criticisms based on theoretical alternative scenarios the critics considered preferable. Coulda had Darqueze Dennard or Jason Verrett at 20, and Donte Moncrief or Jarvis Landry or Allen Robinson or John Brown at 58. Coulda gone with the presumed "instant starter" at center with Marcus Martin over the "project" at corner. Coulda just stood pat at 27 and had a wideout, a corner AND a center. And on and on like that.

And again, there's nothing at all unreasonable about those opinions, despite all the "OMG YOU THINK YOU KNOW BETTER THAN PAYTON AND LOOMIS?!?" nonsense that inevitably comes from the shrieking fanboys on draft weekend.

It's an opinion, asshole. Deal with it. These days, the only thing Message Board Guy abandons on draft weekend more quickly and thoroughly than the "BPA, PERIOD!!!" conviction is the reality that Loomis and Payton are perfectly capable of whiffing on a draft pick, and do so just as frequently as anybody else. "It's a crapshoot" is all well and good right up until someone dares suggest that the Saints might have come up snake eyes on any given roll.

I mean, it's not like the guys who drafted Marques Colston and Jahri Evans aren't the same guys who drafted Antonio Pittman, Al Woods and Johnny Patrick.

Look, don't get me wrong, I do understand that it's annoying as fuck when a guy's pitching a hissy fit about it. When he's insisting that Antonio Richardson (who early on was mocked to the Saints at 27 by either Kiper or McShay, and who eventually went undrafted) was CLEARLY "the right pick" and OBVIOUSLY Loomis and Payton are idiots. I get that.

All I'm saying is that, from where I sit, most of the hissy fits these days are coming from the "IN LOOMIS WE TRUST!!!" crowd as they shout down and summarily dismiss the slightest hint of a suggestion that maybe, just maybe, the Saints didn't absolutely nail it. Regardless of how sober and reasonable the dissenting opinion might be. "I don't know who the fuck Khairi Fortt is either, but clearly he's awesome so YOU SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH!!!" It's actually gotten to the point that those hissy fits are arguably more frequent, and more obnoxious, than the "Loomis and Payton are totally fucking this up" rants.

Anyway, if Day 1 was a 9.5 and Day 2 was around a 7, Day 3 is where things really went off the rails.

I think a big part of the reason for that is because, in a way, Day 3 is actually kinda the most exciting part of the draft. Quantity helps, most teams have more picks on Day 3 than they do the first two days, and each pick is a Christmas present. But moreso than that, it's all the goodies that are out there for the taking.

There's a big bin full of "late-round steals" to pick from, guys who people have actually heard of, whether because the guy carried a "second round grade" according to the Legits and slid precipitously for some reason nobody's really aware of yet, or because Message Board Guy latched onto him back in February for one reason or another and through sheer repetition manufactured a little micro-buzz about the guy.

Day 3 is where you get your underappreciated underdog from a local school. It's where you unearth your small-school gem who, if you squint hard enough while watching his YouTube highlight reel game film, you can almost see that this guy was A MAN AMONG BOYS! It's where you take a flyer on a guy with BEAST measurables. It's where you get your white wideout or linebacker or defensive back, if that kinda thing does it for ya. It's where you might get a quarterback who won a championship or maybe a Heisman or something. It's where you get the guy with the hilarious name, or the goofy hairdo, or some other amusing trait that immediately makes him a fan favorite.

It all adds up to a low-stress environment for fans (because on Day 3, if you whiff, you whiff, it's not the end of the world) and the deck is kind of stacked in favor of your favorite team coming away with at least one or two guys who have something, anything, that excites or even just amuses you enough that you can talk yourself into some form of "Sí, sí, I'm very intrigued!"

We Saints fans have become particularly accustomed to that kind of thing. Because we're awesome. And because we're easily amused. And because the Saints tend to accommodate us on that. Hell, you don't need to look any farther back than last year. Armstead was the small-school guy with significant pre-draft buzz. Jenkins was the "HOLY SHIT, JUST LOOK AT THAT GUY!!!" pick. Stills was the amusing pick with the goofy hairdo. And just for lagniappe, they got themselves a Rufus. They tend to give us at least one of those just about every year, and in one way or another, it's usually pretty entertaining.

This year? Not so much. At first glance, at least, Day 3 was… well… pretty boring. Not a whole lot of meat on that bone.

Hell, even the white defensive back barely moved the needle over at Saintsreport, for crying out loud! (I mean, it did crash the server, but so did the news that they signed Stupid Sexy Flanders, so… well, you know…)

Speaking of… how bad must it sting for Sunseri to have to carry around the label of The White Roman Harper? Ouch.

Oh sure, a handful of people are trying to go all "Poor man's Jadeveon Clowney!!!" with it on Ronald Powell. I'm not sure anybody actually believes it, but it's a valiant effort. Meantime, I don't think the local tee shirt shops are gonna be needing to stock up on Fortt license plates. And don't even get me (or Marcel Jones) started on Tavon Rooks.

I mean, would Ryan Grant, Cairo Santos, Alfred Blue and Zachy Football have been too much to ask??? Come on, mang!

I don't think we were really prepared for a Saints draft that went so… normally. This is kinda the way it's "supposed to" work, right? Blue-chipper in the first, high-upside "boom or bust" project(s) on Day 2, and dudes nobody's ever heard of on Day 3. It was all so damned conventional, and we Saints fans aren't really used to that these days. Conventional is for the Browns and Jaguars and Texans.

Hell, when not even Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis can muster up even a fraction of their usual #swag in their Day 3 pressers…

The good news is that the Saints were already perfectly capable of winning the Super Bowl even if they had skipped this here draft altogether. And if the Desean Jackson comparisons are even remotely valid, there's a really good chance that Brandin Cooks will prove worth the price of admission all by himself. So we've got that going for us.

Anything else is just gravy. For now, anyway. A lot of us (Yours Truly included) are pretty much convinced that there aren't even enough spots on the roster for six drafted rookies anyway. Not after you account for the four or five UDFAs who are sure to make the roster, that is. Stupid Flanders.

But if that's actually true, then you have to wonder why they didn't go ahead and trade up one or two more times, even on Day 3. Because while I'm admittedly just a jackass with a blog, and "You think you know, but you don't know, and you never will" and all that, I just can't imagine Khairi Fortt, Vinnie Sunseri or Tavon Rooks legitimately being the "best player left on the board" at the time each of those guys were picked.

Sue me. Drop the ol' "So you think you know better than the Saints' front office and scouts?!?" strawman on me if it makes you feel better. It's not like I take any pleasure in drawing that particular conclusion. Nor am I necessarily predicting that this is gonna end up going down as one of the shittier Loomis/Payton draft classes overall.

All I'm saying is that the potential for that to end up be the case seems relatively high. And that, in the meantime, outside of Cooks, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly inspiring about this year's haul of fresh meat. I wish there were. I wish there were something I could point to about any of these other five guys that screams "BEAST!"

I guess I can kinda-sorta get on board with Powell's potential. Unfortunately, that's kinda like getting on board with Martez Wilson's potential. You could fap to it if you want, but you could probably think of about ten better things to fap to by the time your belt is unbuckled.

Fortunately, there's always a UDFA or six to lift our spirits. High five! Hey, maybe Brandon Coleman is The Next Marques Colston. Hell, sign me up for that bandwagon. Fingers crossed. And if so, I'm sure we'll all agree to just ignore the question of why they didn't draft him in the 6th instead of Tavon Rooks. Because all's well that ends well and whatnot.

Meantime, I could just as easily see precisely two of the six guys the Saints drafted this year making the regular season roster this fall, with one of them quite possibly ending up being The Next Michael Hawthorne. And nobody will give a shit if the Saints end up winning the Super Bowl, especially if Cooks and Coleman score a couple touchdowns and… oh I don't know… Tim Flanders recovers an onside kick or something. Because all that would be fucking awesome.

It'd still be looked back upon as a shitty draft class though. One out of six might be all you really need, but that's no excuse for whiffing on the other five. Especially when the one you hit on was the easiest one.

Welp. I promise I didn't set out to be such a downer about it all. Hey, on the plus side, they apparently made it through rookie minicamp without anybody blowing up a knee or two. High five! Hell, maybe that alone puts it in the conversation for Best Loomis/Payton Draft Class Ever. If they can manage to survive once Mark Ingram and Kenny Vaccaro show up, I might even try to convince myself that's actually true.

Until then, if you're looking for something a little more uplifting, try this. Got a hunch it'll hit the spot. Mainly because it always does.

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