What's up Who Dats? Today we've got some great information on New Orleans Saints 7th Round pick, RB Daniel Lasco! California Golden Blogs was kind enough to return the favor and answer some questions for me. It seems they are pretty confident Lasco will make the team and have a strong rookie performance. Check it out!
1. As we all know, the New Orleans Saints selected Daniel Lasco in the 7th round of the draft. Did his late selection surprise Cal fans? Did many see him going earlier (maybe 4th or 5th round) or possibly signing as an undrafted free agent?
boomtho: The late selection certainly surprised me. Going solely off of his junior production (5.3 YPC behind a porous OL + good pass production) and his combine numbers (one word: beast!), I would have expected a selection more in the 3-5 round range. Obviously, that's not the whole story as he was injured for a large part of his senior year, and struggled (especially vs some of our younger backs) when he returned. I think as a talent (especially in a pass-heavy offense that would like to use the RBs as a pass-catching threat), he's worth more than a 7th-round pick.
Piotr T Le: I was surprised. He blew the doors at the combine. (http://www.mockdraftable.com/player/5722/) . By these stats we can see that he is physically ready to play in the NFL. One point of concern is the low 3-Cone Drill, which is a good measure of agility and is loved by Bill Belichick. However, as we can see from Mock Draftable that his stats are within the same range as Adrian Peterson. Furthermore, Lasco in 2014 showed that he can be a three-down back who made Cal's offense less predictable.
2. The Saints wasted no time in signing Lasco since selecting him, he's one of three draft picks whom have signed. The team also released RB Vick Ballard, opening a window for Lasco. What does Daniel bring to the table that will heighten his chances of making the team?
boomtho: I think Lasco is a pretty well-rounded back, though his best chance to excel early with the Saints on offense is probably as a third-down back. Lasco had good size, pretty good strength, and pretty decent speed and pairs his physical attributes with decent vision. His shiftiness could probably stand to be improved a bit, though in college he was sometimes able to overcome that with strength (but I don't think that will translate super-well to the NFL level).
However, given that Mark Ingram is pretty entrenched and has played pretty well, I think Lasco's best chance for early impact is as pass-catching back. He played in a pass-happy offense at Cal, so he's certainly adept at running different routes out of the backfield. He's also probably above average as a pass blocker, which fans of Drew Brees' health should appreciate.
One other area that Lasco can be a key contributor is on special teams. He played special teams all four years and was a very solid contributor, using his size and speed well.
Piotr T Le: He is a willing contributor in special teams and can lay down the wood on kick-off and punt-returns. I think once he learns the blocking scheme and audibles he can come into the backfield and pick up blitzes or be Brees's check-down with his good hands.
3. You shared some nice videos of Lasco playing at Cal. He seems to be a decisive, one-cut runner with nice acceleration and decent hands. Is he the type of player who can come in with a spark or does he need a high volume of touches to be productive?
boomtho: I think he can certainly be productive in a limited role, though his senior stats would not back me up there. He's never going to be a home-run hitter, but I think he can absolutely come in and make solid (if unspectacular) plays whenever called upon.
Piotr T Le: I think he is a grinder. There were moments when the would be stuffed, but overall he will be reliable for yards between and outside the tackles. I think that he will thrive out of single-back/Power I formations since it will let him gather some steam as he approaches to the line.
4. He was banged-up throughout the 2015 season with hip and ankle injuries, but it doesn't seem like he has a long-standing history of injury. Are there any durability concerns with Lasco that you're aware of? Any nicks or injuries that the national media may not have been aware of?
boomtho: I don't know of anything that hasn't been widely covered. The hip injury his senior year was definitely a bummer, but that wasn't the second or third injury of its type. Given how he looked physically at the combine, I would not have any long-term injury concerns.
Piotr T Le: I don't think there are any concerns about his durability. The 2015 injury was due to him trying to extend a play by hurdling a defender and being hit in the process.
5. What can you tell us about Lasco's personality or specifically, what type of teammate is he? Can we expect a leader/strong locker room presence or is he more reserved?
boomtho: Lasco was a captain as a junior and a senior; as a junior, he received the team's MVP award (over a pretty decent prospect named Jared Goff!). By all accounts he has been your prototypical great teammate and leader. The reports coming out of the media at the beginning of this last season were that he was working to become a more vocal leader, though there were never any question marks about his overall leadership competence. Personally, I did get a behind the scenes tour of the Cal facilities before a game, and Lasco certainly was a vocal leader in that setting.
There were a couple of articles written on this topic that Saints fans may find interesting.
Piotr T Le: I don't have any information besides the fact that he always seem to be well liked by his teammates and never caused any problems during his tenure at Cal.
From the sounds of it, Daniel Lasco will be a solid contributor who has big-play potential, even as a rookie! Special Thanks to California Golden Blogs for the information and HERE is a link to their Q&A with myself and Andrew Juge.
As always, Thanks for Reading and Be Cool Who Dats!