New Orleans Saints Undrafted Free Agents: Need-to-Know Info for Every Signee
They traded their first pick (No. 27 overall) and third (No. 91 overall) to the Arizona Cardinals for the 20th selection overall. With that pick, the Saints famously took Oregon State playmaker Brandin Cooks.
The Saints addressed a second "need" in selecting Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round.
On Saturday, the Saints showed up and made their selections like a drunk guy throwing darts: They were erratic and all over the board.
They drafted four players coming off major injuries in the last two years. Fourth- and sixth-rounders Khairi Fortt and Tavon Rooks, respectively, were very questionable selections. The fifth-round selections—Vinnie Sunseri and Ronald Powell—were nowhere near the head-scratchers the other two were and actually figure to present tremendous value for the Saints.
No center was selected, and no developmental quarterback or tight end, either. Those are three primary areas to watch for this evening and into Sunday as the Saints make their pitch to undrafted free agents.
The Saints were fortunate to enter this draft not needing a ton. They could almost go best player available—without consideration of the position—in Round 1. Still, there are a few relative needs that Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis addressed in their post-draft press conferences.
#Saints Payton said they certainly considered a handful of centers. But wasn't deep draft at the position and grades never matched up.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) May 10, 2014
Several reports then confirmed the Saints are going to look to address the position in the college free-agency period. And though Payton denied comment about the possibility of bringing in Jonathan Goodwin, most believe the Saints are still interested in rekindling that marriage.
Payton asked if #Saints considered QB: 'Yeah, there were a couple we talked about' McCarron, Murray, Mettenberger. Said 'began to see value'— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) May 10, 2014
In his post-draft press conference, Payton was relatively open about how the Saints viewed and handled this particular draft. He also wasn't afraid to give a few details about who—or more to the point, at what position—they were looking to sign players Saturday night:
Payton said he expects #Saints to sign a quarterback tonight as part of undrafted class.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) May 10, 2014
The Saints remain a serious Jimmy Graham injury away from having nothing of substance at tight end. The addition of Brandin Cooks might make the offense more dynamic from the get-go in 2014, but if it has to go any substantial amount of time without the former Miami basketball star, it will be in trouble.
The Saints do not have to get a Graham clone or equal, but they need someone to soften the blow of a potential injury to the All-Pro tight end.
Undrafted Free-Agent Targets
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
The junior tight end is a questionable character, but his frame and explosive ability might make him worth the risk.
Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
Skov is an intelligent football player who, unlike 2013 Saints UDFA signee Chase Thomas, will prove the skeptics wrong. (Note: Skov has apparently signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers, according his Twitter feed.)
Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State
Bullough was a great player, but character issues abound with him.
Jonotthan Harrison, C, Florida
Harrison was a standout player in his time in Gainesville and apparently already did some solid work scouting Gators prospects.
James Stone, C, Tennessee
Stone was generally ranked below Harrison in predraft rankings, but as a fellow SEC standout, is also a really nice prospect to bring in to compete for a roster spot.
Chris Boswell, K, Rice
Was the top prospect on the Saints' board—at the position—prior to Saturday's third round. He still should be their next option, according to the Houston Chronicles' John McClain.
Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
If the Saints can't get the kid out of Rice, there next call should be to the hometown collegiate kicker. A former Lou Groza Award winner, Santos is pretty good himself.
In the following slides, each of these players has been confirmed to be headed to New Orleans:
- Spencer Hadley, OLB, Brigham Young
- George Uko, DT, Southern California
- Seantavius Jones, WR, Valdosta State
- Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
- Logan Kilgore, QB, Middle Tennessee State
- Tim Flanders, RB, Sam Houston State
- Micajah Reynolds, DT, Michigan State
- Pierre Warren, S, Jacksonville State
- Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State
- Brian Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri State
- Lawrence Virgil, DE, Valdosta State
- Matt Armstrong, OL, Grand Valley State
- Trashaun Nixon, OLB, New Mexico State
- Je'Ron Hamm, WR, Louisiana-Monroe
Spencer Hadley, OLB, Brigham Young
Can confirm Twitter report that BYU OLB Spencer Hadley has agreed to UDFA deal with the #saints.— Ramon Antonio Vargas (@RVargasAdvocate) May 11, 2014
Spencer Hadley may not be the outside linebacker from Brigham Young whom many Saints fans hoped for, but he is a guy who stood out on film when watching Kyle Van Noy.
Hadley comes in at 6'1", 227 pounds. Per Sports-Reference.com, Hadley registered 32 tackles, a sack and an interception in 2013, though his 2012 numbers when Ezekiel Ansah joined him and Van Noy were even better.
George Uko, DT, Southern California
George Uko, DT, USC to Saints— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 11, 2014
George Uko is a playmaking defensive tackle/end prospect. At 6'3", 275 pounds, he figures to play the 5-technique defensive end spot that Cameron Jordan turned into his own dominion in 2013.
Uko had 5.0 sacks in back-to-back seasons for the Trojans and forced four fumbles in his three-year collegiate career.
Seantavius Jones, WR, Valdosta State
Valdosta St. WR Seantavius Jones to the #Saints. Big, athletic and raw!
— Shane P. Hallam (@ShanePHallam) May 11, 2014
According to NFL.com, the 6'3", 209-pound product of Valdosta State was a first-team All-Gulf South player in his senior year. He caught six touchdown passes against Delta State in his senior year after catching 13 in his junior season.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Brandon Coleman to the Saints is per @SaintsNationBlg. Going to try and get it confirmed here soon.— Shane P. Hallam (@ShanePHallam) May 11, 2014
In signing the 6'6", 220-pound wide receiver, it is pretty clear the Saints are making an effort to find a player to eventually replace Marques Colston. The huge Rutgers receiver caught 34 passes for 538 yards and four touchdowns in his final season in Piscataway.
His 4.52 40-yard dash is impressive for a receiver his size. He has all the tools to develop into a fine NFL receiver.
Mike Triplett of ESPN.com officially confirmed the signing later Saturday night:
Confirmed that WR Brandon Coleman has agreed to deal with #Saints. Another Colston/Graham/Toon type at 6-6, 225. Very intriguing.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) May 11, 2014
Logan Kilgore, QB, Middle Tennessee State
At 6'3", 206 pounds, Middle Tennessee State quarterback Logan Kilgore has ideal size for the position. He was never a runner in college but was a decent passer.
His career 61 percent completion percentage proves that, as does his career 53-36 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His best season came in 2012 when he completed 63 percent of his passes for a 7.8 adjusted-yards-per-attempt ratio and 16-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Middle Tennessee State confirmed his signing with the Saints on Saturday night:
Tim Flanders, RB, Sam Houston State
The Saints have a rule of signing an undrafted running back. And it is not unusual to see that player impress in training camp, if at no other time.
The 5'9", 210-pound running back was very productive in his four-year career at Sam Houston State. According to The Washington Post's sports stats site, Flanders averaged 5.9 yards per carry with 14 rushing touchdown while also catching six passes and a touchdown in his senior season.
Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com confirmed the signing on Saturday:
Tim Flanders to the Saints— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 10, 2014
Micajah Reynolds, DT, Michigan State
Michigan State defensive lineman Micajah Reynolds originally planned to sign with the New England Patriots but had a change of heart, according to Scout.com's Mike Williams:
Micajah Reynolds now tweets he will be a New Orleans Saint, not a New England Patriot as originally thought.— Mike Wilson (@MikeWScout) May 11, 2014
At 6'5", 307 pounds, Reynolds projects to the NFL level as a nose tackle. His numbers in college were not tremendously exciting. He had one career sack and one forced fumble.
He spent some time protecting Michigan State quarterbacks on the offensive side of the ball, though, as well.
This was later confirmed by reputable sources, including the Saints Nation Blog:
Latest UDFA Saints signed is Micajah Reynolds, DL, Michigan State— Saints Nation Blog (@SaintsNationBlg) May 11, 2014
Pierre Warren, S, Jacksonville State
Pierre Warren is a 6'0", 194-pound early entrant safety. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at his pro day. None of his other workout numbers is impressive enough to mention.
Jacksonville State confirmed this signing Saturday night:
Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State
Ty Zimmerman is a 6'1", 202-pound safety from Kansas State. According to NFLDraftScout.com, Zimmerman recorded a 4.57 40-yard dash.
In his senior year at Kansas State, he had three interceptions, two of which he turned into touchdowns. He also registered four passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Ravens Insider was the first to report this signing:
Report of 1st UDFA RT @RavensInsider: Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman to the New Orleans Saints, according to a source— Ramon Antonio Vargas (@RVargasAdvocate) May 10, 2014
Brian Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri State
Brian Dixon is a 6'0", 196-pound cornerback from Northwest Missouri State. According to NFLDraftScout.com, Dixon has registered a 4.41 40-yard dash.
Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com confirmed the signing:
Brian Dixon, CB, NW Missouri St to Saints and Corey Brown, WR, Ohio State to Carolina— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 11, 2014
Lawrence Virgil, DE, Valdosta State
Valdosta St. confirmed its DE Lawrence Virgil coming to #saints like 5 mins. ago. Think I've independently accounted for everyone.— Ramon Antonio Vargas (@RVargasAdvocate) May 11, 2014
At 6'5", 287 pounds, Virgil Lawrence projects to the defensive line. He already has great strength, as he benched 225 pounds 39 times at his pro day.
Therefore, it is likely that he will work in camp as a defensive end, unless he proves to be so strong that he can overcome a lack of girth to play in the middle. He registered 4.5 sacks and four quarterback pressures in 2013, according to the Valdosta State football website.
Matt Armstrong, OC, Grand Valley State
Matt Armstrong, OC, Grand Valley State to New Orleans— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 11, 2014
Armstrong is one year removed from being a teammate of the Saints' presumed starting center, Tim Lelito, at Grand Valley State. Expect a friendly competition from the two former college teammates.
Trashaun Nixon, OLB, New Mexico State
Ramon Vargas of The Advocate confirmed the news from Trashaun Nixon himself that he had signed with the New Orleans Saints:
— Ramon Antonio Vargas (@RVargasAdvocate) May 11, 2014
Nixon is an undersized outside linebacker at 6'1", 235 pounds. In two seasons, he registered a combined 5.5 sacks and six passes defensed while forcing four fumbles.
The Saints likely brought him in either as an inside linebacker or as a large safety prospect.
Brandon McCray, DE, Louisiana-Lafayette
Brandon McCray is another player who based off his college statistical production, McCray projects as a nose tackle, a space eater, someone who simply is in the game to occupy blockers.
At Louisiana-Lafayette, McCray recorded just 40 total tackles in his career and 0.5 sacks. But, he is 6'5", 318 pounds.
McCray's coach at ULL, Mark Hudspeth confirmed the signing on Twitter on Sunday.
Ragin' Cajuns DL Brandon McCray signed with the New Orleans Saints and TE Ian Thompson signed with the Houston Texans!!! #CajunsintheNFL— Mark Hudspeth (@ULCoachHud) May 11, 2014
Kasim Edebali, DE, Boston College
Mike Loyko of nepatriotsdraft.com confirmed late Saturday night that Boston College defensive end Kasim Edebali had signed a free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Steele Devitto, LB, Boston College to the Jets and Kasim Edebali, DE, Boston College to Saints— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 11, 2014
Edebali had an impressive 8.5 sacks with five passes defensed and four forced fumbles in 2013, his senior season. The 6'3", 246 pound native of Hamburg, Germany projects to the Saints as an outside linebacker.
Edebali ran a 4.76 40-yard dash and benched 225 pounds 19 times at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Chidera Uzo-Diribe, OLB, Colorado
Several sources reported Saturday night that Chidera Uzo-Diribe had signed with the New Orleans Saints. Nepatriotsdraft.com has him among the 17 undrafted free agents who have signed with the Saints.
Uzo-Diribe played all four years in Boulder, registering 30.5 career sacks and impressively three passes defensed and five forced fumbles in 2013, his senior season.
With a 4.67 40-yard dash and 21 repetitions in the bench press, it is clear that Uzo-Diribe is made for the outside linebacker spot in a 3-4 alignment.
The Corona, CA native played for a successful high school program before competing at Colorado.
Nic Jacobs, TE, McNeese State
Several sources, including Kat Terrell of nola.com, confirmed Sunday night that former McNeese State and LSU tight end Nic Jacobs had signed with the Saints as a priority free agent.
Nic Jacobs going to the Saints as a priority free agent, source says.
In 2012, Jacobs caught just five passes for the Tigers. In 2013, his lone season at McNeese State, Jacobs caught 32 passes for 453 yards and four touchdowns, according to the school's website.
As Ramon Vargas offered in his discussion with Jacobs upon the announcement of his signing, Jacobs learned two different skills at the two different schools.
Spoke to Nic Jacobs at the combine. He said his time at LSU helped him master blocking and at McNeese he showed he could catch (1/2)
The 6'5", 260 pound Manny, Louisiana native joins a group of four out of the 17 signees who played their high school and/or college football in the State of Louisiana.
Je'Ron Hamm, WR, Louisiana-Monroe
Je'Ron Hamm is another in-state signee. At 6'3", 233 pounds, Hamm has similar size to Marques Colston, minus a few inches of height. He caught 24 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns in 2013.
Hamm's wide receivers coach at ULM reported via Twitter his pupil had signed with the Saints. Ramon Vargas of The Advocate relayed the tweet:
All combine/pro-day results courtesy of CBSSports.com unless otherwise noted.