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Saints scout UNC-Pitt, make fourth visit to Florida State

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The Saints are scouting college prospects, so let’s talk about it.

TALLAHASSEE, FL:  Florida State Seminoles defensive end Josh Sweat (9) chases down Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) at Doak Campbell Stadium.
TALLAHASSEE, FL: Florida State Seminoles defensive end Josh Sweat (9) chases down Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

As I wrote last week, the New Orleans Saints are busy scouting for the 2018 NFL Draft, so we should make note of which prospects and programs they’re checking in on.

Thursday night, the Saints (and 19 other teams) sent personnel to take in UNC’s narrow 34-31 victory in Pittsburgh. There wasn’t much to be seen from the big names heading into the game, so hopefully the Saints left with more answers than questions.

What’s confusing for fans is that Saints scouting director Jeff Ireland and national scout Joey Vitt traveled to a game that looks like a dud for the top prospects involved. Maybe they chose this Thursday night game to get in the area ahead of Saturday’s match between the Penn State Nittany Lions and Rutgers Scarlet Knights? Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki is among the best in the country, and the senior is just one catch behind all-world running back Saquon Barkley for the team lead.

The biggest game the Saints will be attending is Saturday’s ACC tilt between the Clemson Tigers and stumbling Florida State Seminoles. It’s been a year to forget for Jimbo Fisher’s team after sloppy offensive line protection broke down and got a promising quarterback in Deondre Francois injured.

The good news is the Seminoles boast two defenders with bright futures: defensive back Derwin James and pass rusher Josh Sweat. James leads the unit in combined tackles (54) and passes broken up (nine), while Sweat is pursuing his 28th career tackle for loss (14 of them sacks) in 31 career games. Both players are underclassmen who could be considering a future in the NFL.

For whatever it’s worth, this is the fourth game the Saints have been reported to scout live for Florida State - tying the USC Trojans for the most game visits to any school over the last two years. Something is drawing the Saints’ attention.

On the other side, Clemson receiver Deon Cain just can’t stop making plays. Cain has either gone for 50+ yards or scored a touchdown (sometimes both) in his last five games, and has the refined route-running the Saints value.

On defense, redshirt-sophomore Clelin Ferrell is playing like a monster: he’s listed at 6-foot-5, 265-pounds and is third on the team in total tackles. Ferrell has played just 23 games early in his career but already has 25 tackles for loss to his credit, and half of those are sacks. He’s a technician through-and-through and will only get better with more experience. Should he declare, the Saints would do well to consider him.