As the draft approaches, NFL teams are sizing up prospects at a frenetic pace. While many sports websites will report visits made by various players to certain franchises, there seems to be no comprehensive list of any given team's targets. Since the draft is turning into a spectator sport itself, I thought it would be useful to see who the Saints are targeting--sure, most of the hype surrounds first-round picks, but it's important to know who else is on the radar. So, compiled mainly from Scout.com, here's a list of the prospects in whom the Saints are allegedly interested.
**I'll be editing this with more information about the prospects so far, as well as adding new players to the list, so check back before the draft!
UPDATE 4/11 - added Stanley Arnoux, Louis Delmas, Chase Coffman, Rashad Johnson, and Michael Mitchell.
UPDATE 4/14 - added Tyrone McKenzie
UPDATE 4/16 - added Andy Levitre
UPDATE 4/17 - added Jonathan Casillas
UPDATE 4/20 - added James Laurinaitis, Roger Allen, Jared Cook, Patrick Gordon, Tyrell Frenroy
UPDATE 4/21 - added John Gill, Ricky Jean-Francois
UPDATE 4/23 - added Everette Pedescleaux
I don't pay for any sports news access, and this was only from a day's worth of searching, so hopefully some of y'all can make additions, comments about the players, or whatever to create a more comprehensive list. To someone like me who doesn't really follow college football extensively enough to know players like DeAndre Levy, it's useful to have a list of the later-round players who could potentially be wearing black and gold. As a disclaimer, I'm not trying to suggest we are taking any of these players--just tracking our offseason activity. In no particular order:
- Ron Brace, DT - Boston College. Scout.com reports that the Saints met with Brace on April 7th--Walterfootball.com has him ranked as the #3 DT, projected as a 2nd round pick
- Fili Moala, DT - USC. He's listed as the 7th ranked DT by WalterFootball as a 2nd-to-3rd rounder--Scout.com had the report about the Saints' interest in him, along with the next prospect:
- Tim Jamison, DE - Michigan. Projected as a 7th-rounder by WalterFootball--the previously linked Scout.com report said we were at his Pro Day.
Jarron Gilbert, DE - San Jose St. WF.com has him as a DT (5th overall--2nd rd selection), but everything else I've seen has him as an end--and his stock is rising. Saints want to get to know him a little better. Or they just want Smith and Grant to wake up.
DeAndre Levy, OLB - Wisconsin. We were at his Pro Day, too--article's here--and he's projected to go in the 6th round, but of course we don't have a pick then, so let's hope for some draft-day dealin'.
- Patrick Chung, S - Oregon. I think he played mostly SS at Oregon, but the experts say he could play either position--he's been a favorite on these boards for a while, and the Saints had representatives at his Pro Day, but he's certain to be gone before the end of round 2.
- Rashard Jennings, RB - Liberty. His stock is rising as this small-school prospect is drawing a lot of interest from NFL teams--the Saints will host him April 14th. He would a perfect late-round pick-up, but the thinking is he's going to go much higher than initially projected (most likely round 3 at the latest).
- Stanley Arnoux, ILB - Wake Forest. The omnipresent league source told PFT that Arnoux is visiting New Orleans sometime next week-- apparently interest is rising for him as gametape of Curry is being reviewed. He's projected as a late-rounder--as late as 7th--but maybe he'll be a real steal. Other teams interested include the Dolphins and Patriots.
- Louis Delmas, S - Western Michigan. Just found this even though it's from last month; seems like a lot of teams have interest in him, and a lot of "experts" are saying he'll be the first safety taken (beginning of the 2nd), so we'll see how much the Saints really like him.
- Rashad Johnson, S - Alabama. We spoke with him at the Combine, but apparently have yet to visit with him--although Atlanta, Denver, and Philly have all had him in for interviews/private workouts. He's a 2nd-to-3rd round prospect, but Nick Saban allegedly called him "the smartest player" he's ever coached.
Michael Mitchell, S - Ohio University. Here's a new name--was snubbed from the Combine but has been making the rounds latey, and the Saints seemed to be interested at his Pro Day. Just wanted to add him to the list since I haven't heard much about him and it's good we're looking at so many safeties.
- Chase Coffman, TE - Missouri. Here's a recently posted story that said we were interested in Coffman at the Combine, and given Payton's fascination with TEs I guess it makes sense that there'd be at least one in this bunch. He's probably a 3rd round pick, but has been on the rise (WalterFootball.com has him ranked as the #3 TE in this year's draft).
- Tyrone McKenzie, OLB - South Florida. ProFootballTalk's "league source" reported the USF standout visited the Saints last week, along with visits to the Bucs, Patriots, and Giants. Projected to go in the 3rd round, McKenzie's stock has dropped since he ran a pedestrian 4.80 40-yard dash at the Combine and only improved to a 4.78 at his Pro Day (and apparently that's the only thing that matters in the NFL). Great tackler, and it's becoming increasingly apparent we're trying to upgrade from Scott Shanle. Plus we wouldn't even need new uniforms printed for him--he could just wear Mike's old jersey.
- Andy Levitre, OL - Oregon State. He played most left tackle in college, but he has played every position on the line. Scout.com reported he had a visit scheduled with the Saints, which would make him the first offensive lineman I've heard us express interest in. His versatility along the line would make him a great round 4 pick up, but he's projected to go by round 3.
- Jonathan Casillas, OLB - Wisconsin. It's very likely the Saints will have a Badger in black and gold, as ProFootballTalk reported that Casillas already had a visit with the Saints, as did his teammate DeAndre Levy. Projected as a 4th rounder, Casillas is one of the faster linebackers in the draft, and I think there's a good probability that either he or someone like Cal's Zack Follett (who I've read great things about, although the Saints haven't formally visited with him) will be our pick at 116 or 118.
- James Laurinaitis, ILB - Ohio State. His stock has slipped recently, but Laurinaitis is a solid LB prospect and could be a great pick up for us if we can get an early 2nd round pick (like New England's from KC). Originally thought to be a top-25 pick, now it seems like he might slip out of the first altogether (a-la Dan Connor)--where he'd be a great pickup, as he could back up Vilma and play behind Dan Morgan/Scott Shanle. Scout.com reported he visited us already.
- Tyrell Fenroy, RB - ULL. Looking at local prospects, I guess. Haven't heard anything about Fenroy--and although he ran a 4.46 at his pro day, Walterfootball.com predicts he'll go undrafted. He's undersized at 5'9", but we are interested enough to conduct a formal workout, according to kffl.com. That link is also the source of the next few prospects.
Patrick Gordon, WR - Nicholls State. Another local boy, couldn't really find much on him--other than he's projected to be undrafted, as well. Also reported by KFFL.com, he worked out for the Saints on April 9th. He was a transfer from Alabama, and could be the sleeper-type WR we go after.
- Jared Cook, TE - South Carolina. Payton loves TEs, doesn't he? Consensus has Cook as the 2nd-ranked TE in the draft, most likely a 2nd round pick. I really can't imagine us drafting him, but the same KFFL.com link said he's got a visit scheduled with us.
- Roger Allen, OG - Missouri Western. FINALLY, another O-lineman on the list. Saintsational beat me to the punch, citing the aforementioned KFFL.com report that he visited with us on April 20th. He's a late-round prospect that has also drawn interest from the Colts, Dolphins, and Patriots.
John Gill, DT - Northwestern. I mentioned that we'll probably draft a DT this year, despite taking 2 in last year's draft, and the workout we scheduled for Gill supports that belief. He's a late-round prospect whose stock has been on the rise since a great Pro Day. Don't be surprised if he's picked earlier than expected, because Payton loves him some Illinois players.
- Ricky Jean-Francois, DT - LSU. I don't know how RJF is as underrated as he is. Most sites have him, at best, as a mid-rounder, but I was super impressed by him last year. I doubt we'll draft him, but I'd love if we did--Scout.com says we're one of the teams to express interest in him and we need another young DT, but I don't think it'll actually happen.
- Everette Pedescleaux, DT - Northern Iowa. Who? Couldn't find anything about him useful (mostly about his basketball abilities, actually), but our buddy Jeff Duncan reported the Saints had him in for a visit (he also said he was very mysterious....oooooh!). He's a late-round prospect that allegedly possesses the same skill set as Gilbert.
I didn't really want to include the first-round options, since there have been extensive posts about them, but here are a few links anyway:
- Ray Maualuga, MLB - USC. Although his stock has slipped lately (whatever that means), Maualuga is almost certainly a first-round pick, but I've included him since the Saints are one of seven teams to host him--although it is probably pre-draft posturing.
- Malcom Jenkins, CB/S - Ohio State. Well duh--we'd better be interested in him. This article from SportingNews.com says the Jets, Titans, Patriots, Broncos, and Browns all are playing host to him, as well.
- Vontae Davis, CB - Illinois. Met with him, although I think it's unlikely we'll take him at #14.
Knowshon Moreno, RB - Georgia. It's official - we had a visit with him (reported by KFFL.com, citing Steve Wyche of NFL.com). It's almost "GAAA!!!" time. Although the Eagles REALLY want him, so let's keep our fingers crossed for a trade down. At #21 we could take a big DT or a LB. Or Beanie Wells. Seriously, though, we haven't had a visit with Wells (nor has Philly).
NOTE--William Moore, S - Missouri has been linked to the Saints, especially given that he was the top-ranked safety at the end of the season. However, I've been unable to find anything linking him to us in terms of draft visits, private workouts, etc. (KFFL.com is the best place I've found to list prospect visits), although someone on one of these boards posted a link about a meeting Gregggggg had with him or something. His stock has slipped due to an unimpressive showing at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, but he's still most likely a 2nd rounder.
You've got to like that we're investing our time so overwhelmingly on the defensive side of the ball. Anyway, comments, additions, any thoughts at all are welcome. And I'll edit post up until the draft as more information becomes available.