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2016 Draft: Saints Prospect Prospects

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The Saints have had visits with several players who have declared for the 2016 NFL draft. Let's have a look at each of them.

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At the East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl meetings, NFL teams have begun meeting with and presumably vetting potential draft picks. According to Walter Football Senior draft analyst Charlie Campbell (@CharlieCampbell), the Saints have already met with several players. As these meetings are exploratory in nature, it should be stated and reiterated and reiterated yet again that teams are window shopping at this time.

Let's have a look at each of the prospects who have met with the Saints thus far as well as some other relevant information we could scrounge up about them.

Meeting information via Walter Football, player stats via Sports Reference, projected draft round via CBS Sports, bottom-line via Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.

East-West Shrine

Michael Caputo, S, Wisconsin (6'0, 200)

  • ~45 games played in 4 seasons
  • 244 total tackles (10 TFL)/1.5 sacks/3 interceptions/17 passes defended/5 FF
  • Projected Round - 7th/Undrafted
  • Other team(s) visited - None

Bottom-line - Safety who is best suited near the line of scrimmage and who is more than willing to step up and do his part against the run. Caputo is the type of durable leader that defensive coordinators will like and he has some special teams value, but his lack of speed and limitations in coverage could hurt his draft chances - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Cody Core, WR, Ole Miss (6'3, 205)

  • 44 games played in 4 seasons
  • 1,297 total receiving yards (15.6 average)/10 TDs
  • Projected Round - 7th/Undrafted
  • Other team(s) visited - Carolina Panthers
Bottom-line - Played his best football this season. Had his best output against Alabama and then in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma State. Core has desired size, but could struggle to find separation against NFL cornerbacks. If he can pick back up with the special teams coverage ability he showed at Ole Miss, he gives himself a better chance to stick around. -Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois (5'10, 200)

  • 47 games played in 5 seasons
  • 2,538 total rushing yards (5.1 average)/18 TDs/1,505 receiving yards (9 average)/8 TDs
  • Projected Round - 4-5
  • Other team(s) visited - Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers

Bottom-line - Small and lean waterbug of a running back. Ferguson's ability to change direction instantaneously and create explosive yardage as a runner or pass catcher could make him a dangerous weapon in the hands of the right NFL team. Ferguson has the hands and route running potential to be considered as a slot receiver option to go along with being a change of pace back. Ferguson won't rack up a high number of touches in the pros, but he has the playmaking ability to make a game-changing play here or there. -Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina (6'6, 328)

  • 39 games played in 4 seasons
  • Projected Round - Undrafted
  • Other team(s) visited - Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins
Bottom-line - Shell doesn’t have the feet to play left tackle and doesn’t bend well enough to generate consistent leverage and push as a guard inside. With that said, he has size and length and a four year starting history in a challenging conference. Add everything up, and Shell looks to be a third day selection as a right tackle only who may be an eventual starter but who is better ­suited as a backup. -Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Senior Bowl

Noah Spence, OLB/DE/3-4OLB, Eastern Kentucky (6'3, 261)

  • Ohio State: 25 games played in 2 seasons/ Eastern Kentucky: 12 games played in 1 season
  • Ohio State: 62 total tackles (15 TFL)/8.5 sacks/1 FF/ Eastern Kentucky: 63 total tackles (22.5 TFL)/11.5 sacks/3 FF
  • Projected Round - 1-2
  • Other team(s) visited - New York Jets
Bottom-line -  His issues are well-­documented, but his recovery and turnaround is what has NFL teams excited. Spence has been accountable for his actions and worked just as hard off the field as he has on the field to change his life and attack his problems. His inability to hold the point of attack combined with his ability to rush the passer make him a logical choice as a 3-­4 rush linebacker. The speed of the game make take a year or two to get used to, but Spence should become a starter early in his career. -Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Chris Swain, FB, Navy (6'1, 245)

  • 41 games played in 4 seasons
  • Projected Round - 7
  • Other team(s) visited - None

Bottom-line - Dive back with adequate running talent who may carry some value as a fullback and a short-yardage option. Swain will need to prove that he can improve as a blocker and special teams contributor to maximize his roster value. The Senior Bowl week is a huge opportunity to make a statement for Swain. - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Analysis

As you can see, most of these guys (as is usually the case) are slated by many of the mockers to be drafted late or not at all. Only Josh Ferguson and Noah Spence have early-to-mid round range projections. Brandon Shell, nephew of the great Art Shell, sounds like a potential depth add for the o line, while Cody Core was evidently a pretty reliable #2 to potential first rounder Laquon Treadwell. Curiously, the Saints spent an 'extra long' time in discussions with EKU pass rusher Noah Spence.

The Saints visited with Eastern Kentucky Linebacker Noah Spence today, and from what I understand it was a long meeting, but not unusual. Spence is considered a possible top 10 pick in the draft, but comes with a buyer beware label because of his off the field problems that eventually landed him at Eastern Kentucky after getting booted out of Ohio State. - Kristian Garic, WWL.com

At the very best, these formative meetings give us fans a glimpse into the potential players the Saints may pursue starting April 28th, at the very least an indication of the needs they are seeking to address. The pundits really seem to love Spence, a weak-side rush end/LB, and often state that his abilities are unquestionable, it's the off field flags that have them questioning whether he slips out of the first round altogether. What do you think?