The general reaction from most Saints fans I interacted with on Twitter yesterday regarding the team's first selection in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft (13th) was: meh. Let me translate: "What? We didn't get Randy Gregory? No Bud Dupree? Or La'el Collins? And who is that Stanford guy? We've never even seen him play; his games always happened around midnight over here anyway, we were already too drunk or too sleepy to care."
What many of them really meant to say is: "Ok, we have no clue who Andrus Peat is, and we're not just going to believe those "experts" who say he is good. We saw La'el play, we saw Bud, and at least we know Randy likes to smoke, after he smokes quarterbacks. What does this Peat guy does except for having a name that rhymes with repeat?"
Alright, let's all have a refresher course on one Andrus Jamerson Peat:
After accepting a scholarship to play football at Stanford, Peat (6'7", 313 lbs.) played in all but one game at left tackle as a freshman in 2012 (he missed one game because of a hand injury). Peat then started every Stanford game as a sophomore in 2013 (14) and every game as a junior in 2014 (13) protecting the blind side of quarterback Kevin Hogan.
In 2014, Peat was named a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy (best offensive lineman in the nation) and won the Morris Trophy (best offensive lineman in the PAC-12) which has been previously won by the likes of centers Ryan (Panthers) and Matt Kalil (Vikings), tackle Tyron Smith (Cowboys), Alex Mack (Cleveland Browns) and others.
Peat was a consensus first round pick projection and has garnered some lofty comparisons from analysts: NFL Network's Bucky Brooks said Peat reminded him of Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Another flattering comparison was to Cincinnati's longtime left tackle Andrew Whitworth out of LSU. Whitworth was rated the number two left tackle in the NFL in 2014 by Pro Football Focus, with an outstanding +36.8 grade. Needless to say that if Peat can achieve the same career path that the 10-year veteran Whitworth has, the Saints have just gotten themselves an absolutely awesome pick.
What is even more important about Peat's selection is this: the New Orleans Saints appear to clearly know what their top two priorities are: 1) Protecting Drew Brees. 2) Improving their defense. With Peat's selection the Saints chose the best available offensive lineman after Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers had been picked by the Redskins (5th) and the Giants (9th) respectively.
I know what you're thinking: La'el Collins out of LSU might have been the more talented prospect, but with him being questioned by police in Baton Rouge regarding the shooting death of an alleged former girlfriend (as of now Collins is not considered a suspect) the Saints couldn't take the chance to select Collins before the dust clears out on this tragic matter.
With left tackle Terron Armstead being as athletic as he is, it is likely that Peat will start his Saints career playing behind right tackle Zach Strief or in run formations that involve having an additional lineman on the field. Brees' blind side protection will probably stay in the hands of the more experienced Armstead for now, barring a serious and precipitous decline by the still very young Armstead. If both Peat and Armstead keep improving and live up to their draft status, the Saints could be set at both tackle positions for the foreseeable future.
My "way-too-early" grade for the selection of Andrus Peat is a resounding A. We all love to think that we know better than our favorite team's front office personnel, and let's face it, sometimes we do. After all they're only human even if more experienced, and they make mistakes too. In the case of Peat, I think they've done an amazing job: not the flashy name, not the glitzy pick, but one that'll pay great dividends when all's said and done.
What say you Who Dat Nation?