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Saints draft success leads to poaching in scouting department

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The Saints turned their scouting success around in a hurry, and other teams have taken notice.

Orlando, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) celebrates as he takes the field during player introductions prior to the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium.
Orlando, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) celebrates as he takes the field during player introductions prior to the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL stands for National Football League, but it’s also derided as Not For Long. That’s usually referring to player careers, with the majority of guys entering and leaving the league in about three years. But it also hits home for front office personnel. The New Orleans Saints learned that firsthand this week with the departure of several members from Assistant-General Manager Jeff Ireland’s scouting department. Houston Texans public relations announced their revamped staff on Friday, featuring two former Saints staffers:

C.J. Leak formerly worked for the Saints as their designated scout for the NFL Scouting Combine - charged with tracking invited prospects, organizing meetings, and logging results from workouts, among other tasks. Now he’s been given a promotion by the Texans to join their staff as Assistant Director of Pro Scouting. That’s a great step up for Leak, who very likely leaves big shoes to fill in New Orleans.

Bailee Brown was also a member of Jeff Ireland’s staff, working as a scouting assistant. Typically guys in this station are responsible for whatever’s asked of them - for example, editing game film into compilations such as every throw a quarterback made on third down. He’s also been hired away to Houston with a promotion in mind as the team’s Southwest Area Scout. Now he’ll be on the road early and often, visiting campuses in his district to take in practices and collect background information from coaches, professors, advisors, and even family members.

These aren’t the first losses New Orleans has endured this offseason. Earlier this week the Kansas City Chiefs announced their own personnel additions, including former Saints scouting intern Greg Castillo. Castillo likely filled a similar role on New Orleans’ staff as Brown in taking requests for film cutups and organizing documents for reference. He’s now been bumped up to College Scouting Coordinator, handing out assignments for area scouts and prioritizing which schools to visit.

It shouldn’t surprise that changes are becoming more frequent for the Saints’ successful scouts. Jeff Ireland represented them to receive an award at a banquet put on by Inside the League back in February, organized by a collective of sports agents and scouting executives. When you draft the runaway Offensive Rookie of the Year (Alvin Kamara) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Marshon Lattimore) to pair with two other instant starters (Ryan Ramczyk and Marcus Williams), people notice.

Personnel moves like these definitely hurt continuity in a department regardless of its field. But it’s also an opportunity for fresh perspectives to enter the office pool and offer new takes on prospects. Look at how things have gone with Ryan Pace leaving for the Chicago Bears general manager position, opening the door for Ireland. Sooner or later the Saints will likely lose Ireland himself to a second-chance as a team’s general manager, but for now fans can feel secure that talent evaluations are in good hands.