New Orleans Undrafted Free Agents: Tracking the Latest Signings

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterApril 28, 2013

New Orleans Undrafted Free Agents: Tracking the Latest Signings

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    The New Orleans Saints had a number of distinct needs they needed to fill through the 2013 NFL draft, and most revolved around the team’s decision to switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2013.

    Texas strong safety Kenny Vaccaro was the Saints’ pick in the first round at No. 15. He’ll help stop opponents from running into and through the middle and back end of the New Orleans defense.

    But there’s still more work to do as the Saints only drafted five players over the weekend.

    Enter the undrafted free agent.

    The Saints are allowed to add players (all the way up to 90) to fill their offseason roster. Which players do the Saints have their eyes on?

    Here’s an undrafted free-agent tracker to keep up with the comings and goings of post-draft rookie transactions.

Ray Shipman, OLB, Central Florida

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    As the New Orleans Saints transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2013, look for the team to add a number of outside linebackers to the roster as undrafted free agents to see if anything sticks as a fit for the new look defense.

    Central Florida outside linebacker Ray Shipman was signed by the Saints Saturday, according to

    Shipman notched 91 tackles and 3.5 for loss, broke up one pass and registered five quarterback hurries during the 2012 season at UCF.

Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

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    Stanford outside linebacker Chase Thomas announced via his Twitter account Saturday that he was signing a deal with the New Orleans Saints.

    Thomas will join the team as an undrafted free agent and will look for a spot in the Saints' new 3-4 defense.

    Thomas was second on Stanford's defense last season with 71 tackles and amassed a whopping 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

Ryan Griffin, QB, Tulane

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    Quarterback Ryan Griffin has signed an undrafted free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints, the Tulane athletic department announced Saturday.

    Since I've been in New Orleans and at Tulane, I've realized many years ago that the Saints are the heart-beat of the city and community and I'm very excited to be a part of the organization. This is a great opportunity to be a part of the team and the roster.

    Griffin played in nine games during the 2012 season and threw for 2,771 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Shane Alston, RB, West Virginia

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    The New Orleans Saints typically maintain a full stable of able-bodied running backs, which has been beneficial as injuries have certainly popped up and taken a toll.

    With the Saints trading Chris Ivory away during the draft, a spot opened up for someone to step in and become one of the gang.

    New Orleans drafted Mike James from Miami in the sixth round and added West Virginia running back Shawne Alston as an undrafted free agent, the Saints announced Sunday.

    Alston played four seasons for the Mountaineers, serving as a short yardage and goal line specialist. Playing in 37 career contests, he rushed 234 times for 1,068 yards (4.6 avg.) with 19 touchdowns and also registered six receptions for 14 yards. As a senior, Alston carried 75 times for 386 yards (5.1 avg.) and seven touchdowns in seven contests.

    The Saints have typically shown a need for running back depth and Alston will have an opportunity to show what he’s got.

Glenn Foster, DE, Illinois

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    As the Saints transition to a 3-4 defense this season there are going to be many occasions for a defensive end or outside linebacker to picks things up quickly and shine in the new system.

    One of the players that will be given an opportunity is defensive end Glenn Foster from Illinois, who was added to the roster as an undrafted free agent Sunday, per the team’s website.

    Foster started two seasons at tackle for Illinois racking up 73 tackles, four sacks and an interception.

    As a senior in 2012, he started all 12 games at defensive tackle, totaling 31 tackles, 5.5 stops for a loss and 2.5 sacks.

Josh Hill, TE, Idaho State

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    As the prevalence of running a two-tight end set becomes more and more popular in the NFL, tight ends are going to become a hotter commodity. New Orleans is about to test this option in 2013.

    The Saints already have Jimmy Graham in the house and added Benjamin Watson in the offseason, which means they aren’t going to spend big bucks in free agency or a high pick in the draft on another. But that doesn’t mean adding a rookie free agent isn’t warranted.

    Idaho State tight end Josh Hill was added to the Saints roster as an undrafted free agent Sunday, the team announced. If Hill can show he’s worthy of a roster spot he’ll team up with a pair that should work some magic in 2013.

    Hill started all 11 games he played in as a senior and finished ranked second on the team in receptions as he hauled in 70 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns while being named to the second team All-Big Sky.

Ryan Lacy, CB, Utah

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    The New Orleans Saints gave up 4,681 passing yards last season and finished next to last in the NFL in this category.

    Addressing the secondary was important to the Saints’ offseason plans.

    With only five picks in the NFL draft, the Saints added only one player to the defensive backfield; safety Kenny Vaccaro from Texas. But general manager Mickey Loomis went to work after the draft and signed Utah cornerback Ryan Lacy to an undrafted free agent contract , the team announced Sunday.

    Lacy broke up 16 passes and hauled in five interceptions as a two-year starter in Utah.

Tim Lelito, OG, Grand Valley State

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    Adding depth to an offensive line whose biggest purpose in life is to protect quarterback Drew Brees was a huge pre-draft need for the Saints.

    In the third round of the draft New Orleans addressed that need by selecting offensive tackle Terron Armstead from Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

    After the draft, the Saints went to work on adding depth.

    The team announced Sunday that offensive guard Tim Lelito from Grand Valley State had been signed to an undrafted free agent contract.

    Lelito started 45 consecutive games for Grand Valley State and was a two-time First-Team All-GLIAC selection. The St. Clair, Mich. native helped the Laker offense rank second in total offense (474.4) and scoring offense (41.9) last season while he was named the GLIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Eric Martin, LB, Nebraska

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    One of the  biggest offseason themes for the Saints has been adding depth to a linebacker corps as New Orleans transitions from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

    The Saints weren’t able to land any linebackers in the draft, but added four as undrafted free agents after the draft, the team announced Sunday.

    Nebraska linebacker Eric Martin was one of the four who will come in compete for playing time at linebacker. There should be some snaps available below the starting unit on the linebacker depth chart for someone to earn.

    Martin, who will compete at linebacker in the Saints’ 3-4 alignment, moved into the starting lineup for the Cornhuskers as a senior at defensive end in 2012 and led the team with 8.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss, earning First Team All-Big Ten honors by writers and the Big Ten Network.

Elliot Mealer, C, Michigan

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    The New Orleans Saints added center Elliot Mealer to the roster as an undrafted free agent, the team announced Sunday.

    Mealer worked across multiple spots on the offensive line and on special teams during his tenure at Michigan. Last season he started all 13 games at center.

    Brian de la Puente is entrenched as the team’s center so Mealer will come in and compete with backup Ryan Lee for a shot at positional depth.

    Mealer told that bouncing around at different positions prior to his senior season could turn out to be beneficial.

    Versatility is something I've tried to sell myself on -- being able to play, I think, all the positions of the offensive line and doing it well. ... I've been practicing all of them and I'll be prepared to get after it.

Keavon Milton, TE, Louisiana-Monroe

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    The New Orleans Saints will enter the 2013 season with two pass-catching tight ends in Jimmy Graham and Benjamin Watson. It will be a new experience for Sean Peyton to work new schemes and situations into the offense to utilize the two tight end set.

    In case the multiple tight end set takes off in New Orleans, the Saints added two undrafted free agent tight ends to come in and work with the unit and possibly carve out a spot on the depth chart.

    Louisiana-Monroe tight end Keavon Milton was one of the two added, the team announced Sunday.

    [Milton] appeared in 45 career games for the Warhawks and totaled 220 receiving yards on 25 receptions with four touchdowns. Milton appeared in all 13 games as a senior and finished with career-highs in receptions (14) and receiving yards (146)


Kevin Reddick, LB, North Carolina

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    North Carolina linebacker Kevin Reddick signed an undrafted free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints, the team announced Sunday.

    Reddick led the Tar Heels with 85 tackles in 2012 and also posted 6.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. His 18.5 tackles for a loss was an Atlantic Coast Conference high mark.

    In four seasons with the Tar Heels, appearing in 50 games with 43 starts at middle linebacker, the New Bern, N.C. native posted career totals of 275 tackles, 36 stops for a loss, 8.5 sacks, two interceptions, 16 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

    Reddick was known as a playmaker in college and could have a legitimate shot at making the regular season roster in New Orleans.

Rod Sweeting, CB, Georgia Tech

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    In an attempt to bolster a secondary that gave up 4,681 passing yards in 2012, the New Orleans Saints signed Georgia Tech cornerback Rod Sweeting to an undrafted free agent contract after the draft, the team announced Sunday.

    Sweeting is an intelligent and physical cornerback who played well at Tech against the run and in coverage. If he’s able to make the Saints regular season roster he’ll help a unit that had trouble stopping the run last season and was porous through the air.

    In 54 career games at Tech, Sweeting made 160 tackles, five interceptions and had 24 pass break ups.