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This is the moment all Saints fans have waited for: The final thoughts on the 2009 NFL draft from Times-Picayune beat writers Brian Allee-Walsh and Mike Triplett.

The floor belongs to Allee-Walsh because if he doesn't go first, at his age, he might forget why he's here.

ALLEE-WALSH: Today, big Mike Golic of the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN Radio/TV is scheduled to get a forearm and leg waxing for losing his NCAA Tournament bet to partner Mike Greenberg.

On Saturday, Mike Triplett got waxed in our head-to-head mock drafts.

Overall first round picks: Allee-Walsh 28, Triplett 27.

Scoring: Allee-Walsh 13 1/2 points, Triplett 9 1/2 points.

It should be noted that Mike and yours truly made a direct hit on the Saints' first pick at No. 14 -- Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. We called it in our initial posting six weeks ago and never wavered. Hey quot;3 Bagger,quot; what about Saturday's beat down?

TRIPLETT: Your wizardry was impressive, as usual, Brian.

Now I owe you the fast-food lunch of your choice. I don't mind spending the six bucks, but I'm dreading sitting there for 30 minutes while you recount the way you nailed such picks as Michael Crabtree to San Francisco (No. 10), Peria Jerry to Atlanta (No. 24), Hakeem Nicks to the Giants (No. 29) and Chris quot;Beanie Wellsquot; to Cardinals (No. 31).

At least I had Mark Sanchez in the right draft slot (No. 5 to the Jets via the Browns). Wasn't that the only pick anyone cared about?

That is, the only one they cared about until the Saints sent shockwaves through the NFL with their trade up (from the seventh round to the fifth) for punter Thomas Morstead.

What did you think of the Saints' draft overall, Brian?

ALLEE-WALSH: I give Mickey Loomis & Associates a quot;B.quot;

They selected three defensive players with sound credentials at need positions, thus meeting their pre-draft criteria. Now, I'm not so sure about their decision to trade up and take the punter and not a running back, outside linebacker, defensive back, offensive lineman or defensive tackle.

Time will tell on this one. Let's hope the 2009 draft will be remembered for Jenkins and not for Morstead.

TRIPLETT: Maybe the sting will wear off in time, but there was no doubt from the fan reaction that the Morstead pick overshadowed the Jenkins pick.

It's like the Saints somehow ruined their entire draft by trading a 2010 fifth-round pick for a punter.

Hey, I was as stunned as everyone else, but I kept hearing the phrase quot;mortgaged their future.quot; That's a little overkill, and if this guy pans out, he'll finally end the punter anguish that has plagued Coach Sean Payton since he got here.

Those first three picks are the big ones, though. Obviously, we all loved the Jenkins pick, and it's hard to argue with a safety and outside linebacker with a combination of size and speed in Round 4.

You certainly can't accuse the Saints of ignoring their defensive woes this offseason.

How about the rest of the league, A-dub? What was the biggest surprise to you, outside of the punter pick?

ALLEE-WALSH: The obvious one is Oakland taking Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick.

Although owner Al Davis got a receiver with this pick, most draft analysts predicted it would be Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin. Granted, Heyward-Bey has the awesome 40 time (4.30), but Crabtree reminds me of Jerry Rice (remember him?) He supposedly was too slow to make it in the NFL, and all he did was rewrite receiving records en route to becoming a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.

Then again, no one should really be surprised by the Raiders, because Davis has always done the unexpected.

Another big surprise to me was Kansas City taking LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson at No. 3. I saw him at LSU's pro day, and if someone had said he would go No. 3 overall, I would have bet that person everything I own that wouldn't be the case.

TRIPLETT: That pick allowed Crabtree to go to San Francisco, which can be considered one of the first-round quot;steals.quot;

But for the most part, everything went according to plan. I thought if the Browns had traded down with Denver or Washington at Nos. 12 or 13, they might have stolen Jenkins away from the Saints. And I thought Green Bay might be interested in Jenkins, too, since they saw him as the second coming of Leroy Butler.

But the Packers couldn't pass up defensive tackle B.J. Raji at No. 9.

One interesting nugget we were able to pick up: The Saints would have taken Southern California outside linebacker Brian Cushing if Jenkins was off the board. Cushing went with the next pick to Houston.

See, everything went according to plan.

ALLEE-WALSH: I'm sure the Tampa Bay Buccaneers feel the same way about their move up from No. 19 to 17 with the crawfish-minded Browns (back, back, back) to acquire Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman.

He clearly was the No. 3 quarterback prospect in the draft and a guy they had been eyeing for months. He's certainly not as polished as the other two, Matthew Stafford -- whom the Lions selected with the No. 1 overall pick -- and Sanchez, but he could develop into a good one. He certainly gives the Buccaneers a lot more mobility at the position.

And obviously I'd be a penniless person today.

Who knows? He might become the next Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco. Speaking of Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons followed a similar script as the Saints, going defense with their first four picks.

How do you view their draft and the rest of the NFC South?

TRIPLETT: I don't like the Freeman pick as much as you do.

If he's that good, why didn't he tear up the Big 12 like so many other quarterbacks -- including two that didn't get drafted, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Missouri's Chase Daniel?

He might pan out in time, and I do give credit to new Tampa Bay Coach Raheem Morris for admitting that he's now quot;marriedquot; to Freeman. But I can't imagine the Buccaneers making a magical run like Atlanta did last season. This team is in a rebuilding mode.

The Falcons, meanwhile, had a great week. I still think they'll suffer from a bit of a sophomore slump this season, simply based on history (see: 2007 Saints, and countless other examples). But veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez (acquired for a second-round pick days before the draft) and first-round pick Jerry, a defensive tackle, should both make an instant impact.

The Panthers had a rough offseason, releasing cornerback Ken Lucas, squabbling with franchise end Julius Peppers and not adding anything in free agency. But they were the best team in the division last season, and they made an aggressive move to trade next year's first-round pick for pass rusher Everette Brown early in the second round.

Too bad we still have to wait another five months to see any of these guys in an actual game.

. . . . . . .

Brian Allee-Walsh can be reached at ballee-walsh@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3805. Mike Triplett can be reached at mtriplett@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3405.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 28, 2009

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