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Sean Payton Discusses Chris Ivory Trade, Third Round Selections

Posted Apr 26, 2013

The New Orleans Saints traded RB Chris Ivory to the New York Jets during the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability, Friday, April 26, 2013
Opening Statement:
“We were busy in that last round. We were able to trade Chris Ivory to the Jets. I know Mickey (Loomis) probably for the better part of the last couple weeks has been working that with the people in New York. It came to fruition after our first pick in the third round. We took Terron Armstead, a tackle out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff. We had a club of players there, including another we had discussed with that same pick, the defensive tackles (John Jenkins) from Georgia. After we had made the first selection, we were back on the phone with the Jets. That had taken place a few times prior to the draft, conversations about compensation, if we would be able to work a trade out. We were able to do that after the first third round pick, number 75, then we were able to take basically our fourth and the fourth we acquired for Chris and move back into the third round and take John Jenkins. A lot of that happened pretty quickly in about five minutes. I had an opportunity to speak with Chris, shortly after. Actually, he was in here three days ago to sign his tender contract and had begun working out with our team. We feel like he’s someone that is a very good running back. We were going to be pretty diligent in regards to what we would be willing to make a trade with. He’s someone I value. I think the four is something both sides felt pretty fair about. It’s a great opportunity for him, I know he’s excited about it. I’m excited for him. In the meantime, we were able to acquire two players in that round, an offensive tackles (Armstead) that is real athletic, a guy that really played well to his level of competition, someone we had done real research on at the East West game and then with John Jenkins, with the amount of players Georgia had this year, a number of players were in here for workouts. So, that really kind of summed up the last hour for us, the first pick being the offensive tackle and then the trade that happened after that pick and then probably there was less than a minute on the clock when that trade got finalized with Miami. I know that Miami was prepared if they had to make a pick, because there area a lot of moving parts there. There’s team calling into the league to get the Ivory trade done and very quickly once that’s finished, Miami and the Saints orchestrating the trade back into the third round”
Did you have the fourth round pick offer in hand and decide you wanted to cash it in when Jenkins was available?
“Going back a few weeks, I know Mickey had spoken to them (Jets) a number of times. I think both teams were going to wait as we got to possibly tomorrow. Had there for us not been a player we didn’t want to move back into the third round for, this trade could have taken place tomorrow. I think it was expedited a little bit with our need or want to get back into the third round.”
Had the fourth round pick agreement been kind of decided?
“Yes.”
Was it last minute?
“No, I think the dialogue had gone on for a while. Generally when you get into player for picks trades they happen closer to or during the draft.”
What’s the difficulty of letting go of a player who grew in your system?
“Absolutely, he’s a physical runner. He’s someone that runs with good pad level, powerful and with a lot of these players, especially someone like him who came in as a free agent, I don’t want to use the word attachment, but you’ve seen a player like him develop. That being said, you’re constantly trying to look at the team goals. We felt going into this offseason that we had solid depth, more than enough depth that how could we possibly use that to help ourselves either defensively or with another position need. In this case, it ended up being part of how we were able to help ourselves defensively because we used his pick along with another, but he’s a good football player and I think that he’ll find a good fit in New York.”
You’ve always liked the depth of four running backs, especially after running out of backs in 2010. Assess the current group?
“(Travaris) Cadet’s a young player that I’m not as familiar with just because I wasn’t exposed to him last year. Certainly we have some other veterans when you talk of Pierre (Thomas) or Darren (Sproles). We feel like we have a good, young runner in Mark (Ingram). I think even when we get into the draft tomorrow, we’re constantly looking for someone that has those traits. We’ve been able to sign some running backs after the draft that have made our roster. They come in all shapes and sizes and are a little unique. Those would be the initial four that we look at right now.”
Does Armstead being working at left tackle?
“That’s the position we see him at. He had the fastest 40 at the combine. He can run. He’s very athletic. I think he’ll put some weight on. He’s won a lot of college games. I think his team won the National Championship if I’m not mistaken this year. He’s someone that’s very intelligent and has good length, but his athleticism is the thing if you measure the quickness and those things. I see that being the position that we scouted him for and probably most everyone else did as well.”
Does Jenkins compare as a player to Akiem Hicks?
“That’s probably a little tougher comparison. I think with John, what is impressive is he has size, but has good initial quickness. He’s someone that’s a hard worker, good character. It’s important to him. I think the thing that all of us, scouts and coaches saw when we read on him and watched tape on him is his get off and initial quickness being something that stands out. I like the size in the player. We’ve talked about getting bigger and I think that this is one step in that direction.”
Does Jenkins have the type of body to play nose?
“We just feel like we want to acquire a number of big bodies. We have players in there now that give us size. This is another player inside. I see this player starting off in a nose in a position he’ll play and I think that he’s familiar with that having played it at Georgia in a similar scheme.”
Does Armstead compare to Jermon Bushrod when drafted six years ago in terms of the level of football they played?
“It might be one level up, in 1-AA, but small school.”
Do you see him as someone who it’s asking at lot of coming from that level to protect the blindside right away?
“You’re asking do you see him starting next year? I don’t. I think that it varies with these rookies. Some seem to be ready to go and transition very quickly. And then some it takes more time. It just depends on the individual, when he comes in here and how he picks things up. I go back to our first year with (Marques) Colston at the rookie camp. He was on the ground and really struggled with his back and conditioning. All of a sudden in that first training camp, (he) really came on and all of a sudden started the season at X I think. To say that he’s going to come in right away at that position and be a starter, I just know that he’s going to be able to come in here and compete for that opportunity, but I think there are some players that are going to do the same thing. So, we’ve been pretty disciplined and had good fortune at finding good offensive linemen at the right spot in the draft. Hopefully this is a case of that.”
What was the offseason plan of obtaining a new tackle? Was the draft a part of it?
“With the departure of Jermon, I think we felt like it wasn’t something surprising. If that big number came from a team like it did from Chicago, we were certainly excited for him. Mickey (Loomis) and I had discussed a number of different options and really we feel like there’s some internal competition, which is a good thing. We’ve looked closely at veterans on other teams. We signed Jason Smith not too long ago and had the opportunity to draft a player. Charles Brown has experience at the position, so that’s something that’s ongoing. I think that makes for an interesting, important competition that’s going to take place in training camp mostly, when we get into the pads. I think you have to be prepared if a player like Jermon has a great opportunity. You have to be prepared to sit at a number you’re comfortable with and then go forward. We’ll find a replacement. That’s an important position obviously. I’m anxious to see how the two or three players that we have currently on our roster do over there. I’m anxious to see how this guy does. We’ll continue to pay attention to other ways to really help our team out from a depth standpoint or create competition. That’s the only way we know how to improve a product and get better.”
Georgia went to a 3-4 two years ago. How much did John Jenkins’ presence in the middle help them change to a better defense in the SEC?
"I think that’s part of it. Todd (Grantham) was here, the defensive coordinator, and interviewed for this job. We were able to see a lot of film just on our evaluations through this process. We had a little bit more exposure to their program based on the interview and the workouts. I think he was a part of it. They had a lot of good players on their defense and I think they would tell you that they had a number of guys who contributed to the successful season they had."
Jenkins only had one sack last season, but had many quarterback hurries. Can you talk about what you saw on film in that regard?
"I think when you watch him, often times, its difficult because teams get in and out of their base defense. But he lines up in the nose in a 3-4 front, and one of the things you see is real good initial quickness for a player of that size. You see real good ‘get-off’. He’s light on his feet, he’s athletic, and sometimes that’s unusual for a player who is as big as he is and weighs as much as he does. Those are the redeeming qualities. I also think his work ethic and all the background stuff with his coaches, people at the school, and all of that was outstanding. We had a chance to interview him and visit with him at the workout and so this is a player that we felt pretty comfortable with and at least knew who he was. It becomes more complicated as this draft goes on to have a potential third round draft cloud before the draft begins. There are a handful of those players who are leaving the cloud, but Terron (Armstead) was someone that was really our first selection of the nine that we had put in that cloud a day and a half ago. He stayed; John all of the sudden was someone that was still available. As these guys start disappearing, you start looking at your backup plan in case everyone is gone off the cloud. We just kept waiting on the tackle from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, to see that his name wasn’t called. Once we were able to make that selection, the idea came. We had dialogue with the Jets and now we began to think that maybe there’s a way for us to get the second player, and fortunately we were able to do that."
Did you expect Jenkins to go higher than he did?
"It’s always hard to say when you think a player is going to go. You try to grade him based on how you see him, but the process of trying to guess who else might like the players sometimes is not really a science. It was interesting to see that stack of eight or nine players- one by one- players in the middle of the stack and lower in the stack. The receiver we really liked, (Oregon State WR Markus) Wheaton, I think went to Pittsburgh shortly after us selecting the offensive tackle. He (Wheaton) was right in the middle, but the trade probably wouldn’t have happened had John been drafted. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have happened, I’m just saying it wouldn’t have happened tonight."
Can Jenkins play for this team at 360 pounds?
"I don’t think that’s his weight that he’ll play at. I think his weight will be 340-345, I think in that range."
Were Armstead and Jenkins numbers one and two on your cloud?
"Well we had three magnets right in a row. The first magnet was the offensive tackle, the second magnet was John, and the third magnet was Wheaton. We made the selection for Armstead and began the process of the trade with the idea that hopefully John would be available. We also felt strongly about Wheaton. Now, while this was going on, Wheaton was selected. So it really became clear that the trade would be just for one player, and it’s John Jenkins. If he is not available, we will hold on to this (fourth round pick) and probably begin to talk tomorrow about it."
Armstead was projected as a mid-second round pick. Was he a guy that had that high of a grade for you?
"He had a high grade. These three players were guys that we had graded somewhere from the middle to the middle back of the second round. That’s pretty common. If you have a decent group, you have to have some numbers. You’re always hopeful that one or two of these players will slip through, but it’s unpredictable. I’ve seen it happen where everyone in your cloud disappears, and then you either have to look to your next plan or maybe move back. So we were fortunate and I think in this case that time will tell. These guys, I like their makeup, I like their character, and I like their mental makeup. They’re smart, tough guys. One played at a very big program, the other one played at a smaller level of competition that won the national championship. I’m anxious to see how they do coming in here, transitioning into our team."
Did you get better offers or interest for Chris Ivory than you had in years past?
"I don’t know that we had any other offers in years past for Chris. This really is something that has taken place in the last three weeks. I think that when Mickey (Loomis) and I discussed this, we felt comfortable with that round. I think that part of it is that if you are making a trade and the trade is for a fourth round selection, that’s one thing. But if you are into the fourth round, and there is a player that you really clearly want, it is easier to make that trade than just randomly trading it and then seeing what’s available, if that makes any sense. In this case, it kind of happened that way in that we were able to take that pick with ours, and go get someone in the third round. Its easier to make that trade with a vision of what that trade is going to be, as opposed to it just representing a pick. When you’re talking about a fourth round pick, usually you are talking about a good football player involved, but there is more to it than that (such as) years on the contract. There is a lot that goes into what a player is worth. I think it’s a great opportunity for him. Like I said, when we spoke at the beginning of the week about the offseason program, my words to him were ‘Regardless of whether you’re here or somewhere else, this is an important year for you, period. I’d take advantage of the weight room and take advantage of training and getting yourself ready. I’m fully prepared and plan on having you, and yet I recognize that this is something that may come up.’ He was great. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. He was here for the last half of the week of the workouts and then I called him right after this and I spoke for a while about it. He was excited and I was excited for him."
Was tonight the best-case scenario for the team?
"I’m excited tonight because when we started the day, we started with a list of seven or eight guys, and Armstead was the guy on the top of that list. With that being said, we were able to get ourselves a good defensive player who has that presence and size. We keep talking about it, but I think that’s an area that at every position we can become bigger and in this defense, I think that’s going to help us. He gave us that opportunity, and we were excited about last night’s selection as well. This is the time of year where everyone says ‘We got our guy.’ Kenny (Vaccaro) was a player that we had waited, we didn’t know if he was going to make it to fifteen, and we were fortunate that he did. For us, there was no hesitation at all with that selection. We have a clear vision for what we think he can do. The same thing happened today. I know from experience that that’s not always the case. But I also know from experience that when you sit and talk to everyone, you act like it was the case."
Is your interest piqued at all by the amount of quarterbacks that seem to be falling down into the later rounds of this draft?
"It’s hard to figure. There is more coverage in this process than ever before. I’m not saying it’s misinformation, but oftentimes, the discussion of a quarterback getting taken in the first five picks or potentially the quarterback at Syracuse getting taken in the top ten, but all of us who pay attention to various mock drafts, you begin to think it’s a given that he will be a first round pick, but here we are after the third round. I think part of that is just the amount of coverage it gets. But, to (answer) your question, this class- at least how teams see it- didn’t grade the quarterbacks how they graded them a year ago. Three or four years from now, we’ll see if a team or two was able to get a good quarterback. We’ve seen this any time we go back and look at drafts. You go back and look at players that you call ‘steals’ or ‘great finds’ and I think that is the challenge with a good draft. We spend 95% of the time on the first round pick in regards to our discussion and in regards to the focus. I think what’s important is, all other picks that can end up making what could be a real good draft for your team. You’re always hopeful that your first round pick can be someone that has success, but equally important are those other spots. I think that that’s something that we’ve been fortunate with."

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