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Saints Rookie Revealed: Sean Canfield

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When the Saints selected Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield with their seventh round pick in last weeks draft, many fans of Who Dat Nation, including myself, had the same surprised reaction: Who!? Naturally, Saints fans had limited knowledge of available quarterbacks in this years draft other than the big names because, well, that's not really a position of need for the team. 

In an effort to get better acquainted with Sean Payton's newest toy, I decided to take advantage of the awesome network we have here at SB Nation and enlisted the help of our very own Oregon St. blogger, Jake Bertalotto of Building the Dam. Who better to clue us in on what to expect from Canfield than the guy who has been following his college career the entire time. 

Jake made some time to chat with me and answer a few questions about Sean Canfield that I thought would educate us all and perhaps shed some light on why the Saints were so high on this guy. Our conversation can be found after the jump. Thanks a bunch to him for all of this. Hopefully we'll be able to do this for many or all of this years draft picks. 

Dave:  Selecting a quarterback in the seventh round of the draft was quite a surprise to many Saints fans. Give us a little background on Sean Canfield. A primer, if you will.

Jake:  Sean was a guy who spent a lot of time in the Oregon State system. He showed up in Corvallis in the spring before his redshirt freshman year, so he had plenty of time to learn the Mike Riley pro-style offense. Still, he had his troubles when he was thrust into the starting role as a sophomore -- much in the same way Derek Anderson was in 2002. While he did have his share of injury issues, he developed into the Pac-10's most prolific passer last year. While the conference wasn't stacked full of talent, that's still a big accomplishment for a guy following in the foosteps of the aformentioned Anderson and Matt Moore.

It's tough to say how his skills will translate to the professional game-- his arm strength is probably below average, but he could make up for that with his accuracy. He can also be a bit awkward in the pocket at times. But from what I've read following the draft, both sides seem happy. He should be able to learn a lot from Drew Brees and Chase Daniel. Sean was a sophomore when the Beavers (led then by Matt Moore) defeated Daniel and Missouri in the 2006 Sun Bowl, interestingly enough.

Dave:  Yeah, I saw the ESPN quarterback challenge video on YouTube that someone posted on CSC. Is that his big thing? Accuracy?
Jake:   Yeah, I'd say so. He threw 15 interceptions as a sophomore, when he started for most of the season. Five of those were in one game -- and the Beavers still only lost by twelve points. He whittled that number all the way down to seven in his senior season, which was a big improvement.

I'm not sure if this is an anonomoly or not, but Sean tended to develop relationships with a couple receivers who he could find seemingly anywhere on the field. This year, it was his tight end. Oregon State's receivers were good -- not great -- during Sean's tenure, but I would argue that he put the ball where he needed to in order for them to be successful.

So yeah, accuracy. Unless the wind is howling, as it was in the Vegas Bowl.

Dave:   Okay, accuracy is a strength. What about weaknesses. What's the one thing Sean will need to improve most?
Jake:   Looking back on just this year, his pocket presence could improve. He did make great strides (no pun intended!) in improving this aspect of his game over his college career, though. So that's one...

I'd say his arm strength is sub-par for NFL quarterbacks as well. But here at Oregon State we like screens, so it was never that big of a deal. But I'd point to pocket presnce and footwork as the big area of concern.

Dave:  Screens you say? Hmmm...interesting. Sounds right up Sean Payton's alley. What do you think Payton sees in Canfield that he might not see in other quarterbacks and that made him worth drafting? Is it just the fact that they have the same name?
Jake:   That's hard to say. I don't know much about Coach Payton, but I'm guessing he likes the system Sean has played in while at Oregon State. That's the thing -- Oregon State quarterbacks from the Riley era (Derek Anderson and Matt Moore) have typically entered the pros and been successful relatively quickly. More or less. That probably gave Canfield the edge in the eyes of the Saints when they surveyed the quarterbacks still left on the board in the seventh round. There's something about the Oregon State system that gives quarterbacks an edge once they get to the pros.

Dave:  Think he's got a chance to beat out Chase Daniel in training camp and become the number two?
Jake:   Well, I'm obviously going to biased towards Sean. I think he has the ability to learn the system well. From what I remember about Chase from that Sun Bowl game a couple of years ago, he has more physical tools than Sean. Would you say that's still the case? I haven't really followed what Daniel has done in the past couple of years. Has he made progress in the system? I think Sean can handle the rigors of an NFL system, though.

Dave:   I wouldn't know. I've never seen Chase throw a football in a Saints uniform. Seriously. This training camp will be the first. What's Canfield like off the field? Good kid? Getting into any trouble? Does he take "the pot"?
Jake:   I've only heard good things. The only thing is that he has the So-Cal, surfer boy air about him. I don't think that's anything that will get him into trouble though. I've never heard anything negative, but that doesn't mean he's a perfect citizen when nobody is watching. It's college, after all.

Dave:  So-Cal surfer boy, huh? I'm picturing Jeff Spicoli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Does this often get mistaken for a lack of interest or a poor work ethic?
Jake:   No, I don't think so. Sean was never handed the job. He had to compete for it every year, especially when he had to come back from injuries. He had tough competiton from Lyle Moevao -- who was the emotional leader of the team, even while on crutches -- so Sean really couldn't afford to get disinterested. Both guys benefited from that competition year in and year out; I think Sean would be the first one to tell you that. I'm sure he was frustrated at times when he couldn't just be "the guy", but I think he'll be better off in the long run becasue of it. Both of those guys are quality players and people who fed off of each other.

Dave:  What was that injury situation you speak of?
Jake:  Sean tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder on this play against USC in 2007, and it took him a long time to recover. It sort of dampened him from that point forward, and provided an opportunity for Lyle Moeavo (who also had injury issues) to take over the starting role.

Dave:   Personally, what did you think about where Canfield got drafted? Did you think he'd go earlier? Or are you surprised he was even drafted at all?
Jake:   To be honest, I'm not much of an NFL fan and I didn't follow the draft closely. He had a strong senior year and put up some big numbers, so I'm not surprised that he was drafted. At Oregon State, we're not really concerned about landing the highest caliber recruits because our coaches are great at doing more with less.

I'd say that the same mentality carries over to the draft. Order, rankings, rounds...we don't really care. I don't, anyway. Although I suppose a higher draft selection could have meant Sean would have had some extra cash to funnel Oregon State's way. We just lost our primary donor, ya know.

Dave:   Any interesting or weird facts about Canfield? Like, can he juggle swords?
Jake:   He has nice hair!! But that sort of relates to that whole So-Cal thing I was talking about earlier. He's a lefty quarterback, but he's right handed in everything else -- except ping pong!

Dave:   Does he surf? Is he actually from So-Cal?
Jake:   I'm sure he surfs, but I don't know that for sure. I used to be Facebook friends with him, but I think he's since deleted his profile, ya know, now that he's a celebrity. He was born in LaJolla, California but he attended Carsbad High School and lists Carlsbad as his hometown.

Dave:   Is he on Twitter?
Jake:   I don't think so. Lyle Moevao got into a little bit of trouble when he called out the Ducks (I think it was them...) on his Twitter page, so the team kind of backed away from that. Who knows if that's the reason why, though. He probably just has better things to do. He's from So-Cal, perhaps he's too cool for Twitter. Chase Daniel has a twitter page I see. Advantage: Sean?

Dave:   Yeah, Chase loves him some Twitter.
Jake:   I'm sure Sean would much rather prefer to do curls.

Dave:   Haha. Dedicated; I like that. Okay, last question: Who should Saints fans keep their eye on this year at Oregon State?
Jake:   The Rodgers brothers are our superstars; you may already know about them. Jacquizz is the 5'6" stud running back, and his brother James is a hair taller and is the speedier of the two. Not by much, however.

But an interesting guy to watch is defensive linemen Steven Paea. He's a guy who didn't know anything about football a few years ago. He's from Tonga and could have gone pro this year, but decided not to. The guy is a freak in the weight room -- an absolute freak. He can bench press 225 pounds 44 times. Forty-four times! He'll probably be a difference maker in the NFL someday.