The New Orleans Saints’ 2014 draft was enigmatic as much as anything else. Three great picks, three question marks. Talent abounds among the group of draftees, but collegiate production was not stressed as much as is ideal.
The six Saints draft picks, though, were quite diverse. Among them are a 5’10” receiver, a 6’3” cornerback, a Cal-Berkeley transfer from Penn State, a college coach’s son, a No. 1 overall high school recruit and a player who played at three separate junior colleges before finally making it to Kansas State.
And the Saints didn’t stop there. As is typical, Mickey Loomis and scouting director Ryan Pace worked late into Saturday night to bring in a truly talented group of undrafted players. They'll join the drafted players this week at the Saints’ practice facility in Metairie before they participate in rookie mini-camp Friday through Sunday.
A few of the positions the Saints were thought to be interested in addressing in the 2014 draft were left alone almost entirely. Center, tight end and quarterback were ignored altogether in the draft. And each position was only given one undrafted signee post-draft.
Sean Payton did not want to discuss Saturday night whether the team would address the center position some other way in the future, but admitted, “We had a handful of centers on the board and just never, really never matched … We are finishing up this seventh and we will continue to look in the post draft process for guys that we feel like fit that role as someone that can come in.”
Payton, in his press conference, admitted the Saints considered SEC quarterbacks Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron and Zach Mettenberger at different points on Day 3, “those three players were guys we looked closely at and began to see a value once it got into the later rounds … They were in the discussion and talked about.”
Two other major themes arose, especially from Saturday’s selections.
Each of the four selections on Saturday were players who sustained a major injury in college. However, only Vinnie Sunseri suffered his injury in the past year and is yet to have played a game with his reconstructed knee.
Speaking of the evaluation and discussion process of drafting a player with medical concerns, Payton said, “All of those things are taken into account and are a part of the process. We felt pretty good where these guys are at and yet recognize the rehab they have gone through. All but Vinnie have played a full season at least, if not two.”
And of course, special teams was a huge factor on Day 3. Payton admitted that a big part of their immediate plan, especially for Sunseri and Fortt, is to have those players contribute on special teams.
“The punt return game is something we want to work to improve and that is kind of a point of emphasis this offseason,” Payton said. “I think finding young players, when you draft them it is important to have a vision as to what is your vision for the player.”
It’s no coincidence that the punt return game was discussed with having a vision for these draft picks—especially as guys coming off major injuries.
All quotes taken from neworleanssaints.com. Full transcript available here.