At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love, love, love the DeAndre McDaniel pickup. I called for the Saints to trade up and take this guy starting in the fourth round of the NFL draft. At the time the Saints didn't have a pick until the 7th round after they taking Johnny Patrick in the third round. Three rounds later, McDaniel was still on the board and he'd been listed as Mel Kiper's best available for the better part of 36 hours, and the Saints passed on him again. Twice.
McDaniel came into the draft as a third round graded prospect and many were shocked to see him go undrafted. I was particularly shocked to see the Saints pass on him considering they had only one safety on the roster at the time in Malcolm Jenkins. So why did he go undrafted?
According to some, he was red flagged on many scouting reports due to an injury risk that teams were worried about. He also ran a relatively slow 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine which apparently hurt his stock as well. So don't expect this guy to come to camp and mail in a performance. McDaniel is a capable player with the pedigree to play at the NFL level and he's got a huge chip on his shoulder after going undrafted.
Three months later he finally signed with the Black and Gold, and now he'll try to become the next Lance Moore, Pierre Thomas or Chris Ivory. That is, an undrafted rookie free agent who takes the league by storm. If the season started today, he'd be the only strong safety on the team. That said, I think we all expect Roman Harper to come back, but I think McDaniel stands a great chance of making the squad as Harper's primary backup.
Check out his write up on NFL.com:
Overview: "McDaniel is a physically impressive safety prospect who makes a lot of plays roaming the middle in zone coverage and filling against the run. Would be a good fit for a team that likes to walk a safety down into the box for run support or to cut loose on blitzes. Will bring a tough, intimidating, explosive presence to the middle of an NFL defense. Some deficiencies in man coverage and an off-the-field issue are the two main areas of concern. But in a relatively weak safety class, McDaniel should hear his named called in the first few rounds of the draft."
Strengths: "McDaniel is an outstanding blend of height, length, bulk and speed. Looks the part. Very productive player, with a flair for making the big play. Appears to be a well-prepared. Has good range in zone, can lay the wood or make a plays on the ball. Loves to play the run, fills in a hurry."
Weaknesses: "Is a bit high-cut and lacks some fluidity when attempting to mirror quicker receivers in coverage. Can get caught looking in the backfield at play fakes on occasion. Must watch his tackling technique at times. Was arrested in 2008 but is not a locker room personality problem."
Does this write-up remind anyone of Roman Harper? Does this write up sound like the type of player that Gregg Williams can turn into a devastating playmaker? I think so! Don't be surprised when McDaniel makes the 53-man roster and starts a few games when Harper gets banged up. Mark my words. I think he'll satisfy himself with making the team for now but I'm hopeful McDaniel represents another very low risk - high return type of story the Saints have become so good at constructing.
Do you see McDaniel making the team?