The New Orleans Saints have done well with low round picks in the NFL draft in the Sean Payton era:
- Jari Evans, OG 4th round 2006
- Zach Strief, OT 7th round 2006
- Marques Colston, WR 7th round 2006
- Jermon Bushrod, OT 4th round 2007
- Carl Nicks, OG/OT 5th round 2008
- Adrian Arrington, WR 7th round 2008
- Thomas Morstead, Punter 5th round 2009
- Matt Tennant OC/OG 5th round 2010
Without a first or secon round pick this weekend, the Saints need to strike later gold again. Here are some prospect they may look at in the 2012 NFL draft:
3rd Round Projections
Brandon Washington, OG/OT, Miami (FL) 6-4 317
A versatile prospect who can project to guard or tackle...a solid run blocker...plays a physical game...has been productive against top college competition. Brandon had fine strength and is mobile. He is an underclassman who could have used more college experience but has great potential.
Brandon Taylor, Safety, LSU 6-0 195
Would add depth to the Saints defensive backfield...he has played some corner as well but lacks good speed for the corner position. He had a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl and also had a pick in the game. An experienced prospect who played against top SEC competition, Taylor has good range, will chase and pursue, athletic and flexible, has good character as well.
Billy Winn, DE, Boise St. 6-3 295
Another versatile prospect who lined up at both defensive end and defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl practices, he is strong at the point of attack, a good run defender. Quick, moves well laterally, plays with balance and fine technique. He is not a sack artist, but does have some pass rush ability.
Sean Spence, OLB, Miami (FL) 6-0 226
Sliding some due to his lack of size and could end up in the 3rd or 4th round. The Saints have picked up several linebackers in free agency but this guy is a playmaker sideline-to-sideline and may get a look as a special teams player. He has 4.58 speed, is instinctive and very athletic...tough for his size and a physical hitter.
Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana Lafayette 6-6 237
Would add depth to the position behind Jimmy Graham. Dave Thomas has had injury problems as well. Green is a pass catching tight end with outstanding speed for the position at 4.52. He can get deep and stretch a defense. Green will need to add bulk if he is to become an effective blocker however.
Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette 5-9½ 176
Has moved up the draft board...also had a solid week at the Senior Bowl. He jumped pass routes, breaks on the ball quickly...has quick feet and is also aggressive in run support but lacks good size for the pro game. He has long arms and a burst to the football. Bentley could surprise and move up as high as the top of round three as well.
Ron Brooks, CB, LSU 6-0 180
May get a look from the Saints...ran an impressive 4.37 40 yard time at the combine. He lacks experience due to limited playing time in LSU's deep backfield but would be a good pick in round five...can do a little bit of everything on special teams.
Sleepers (Late Draft):
Bobbie Massie, OT, Ole Miss 6-6 315
A tall lineman with long arms who is still raw...an underclassman who could have used another year of college football but has nice size and has played well in the tough SEC...a physical run blocker.
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech 6-4 210
A speedy receiver who is rising fast....played in an option-based run-first offense in college so he lacks experience but has great potential.
Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama 6-1 310
Josh is downgraded due to injury...tore an ACL in his knee and missed the Senior Bowl...also limited at the combine. He is a solid football player, however, with a big wide body who can plug the middle against the run...quick and agile for a big man.
Now the following two prospects may not be on the radar in New Orleans, but I think both have bust potential despite plenty of pre-draft hype:
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M 6-4 220
Ryan is a super athlete but I think he will be over-drafted. There is talk about him going eighth overall to the Dolphins. If that happens, he may start the first year because Miami needs a quarterback. Bbut he really should sit for a year. Tannehill lacks experience, having started only 20 games at quarterback in college...a former wide receiver who has first round talent but the top 10 is high in my opinion.
Vontaze Burfict, OLB, Arizona St. 6-3 256
A nice sized linebacker, but is not very smart...makes dumb plays and draws flags for late hits which hurts his team. He needs to mature... very undisciplined on- and off-the-field...makes mistakes on the field...takes bad angles as well.
Draft Drama Starts At #3:
The Vikings pick at third overall will be interesting, I still think they take Matt Kalil, the offensive tackle from USC, but cornerback Morris Claiborine, the underclassman from LSU, has been praied publically by key members of the organization.
It will start to shake-out starting this Thursday, April 26. Stay tuned.
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