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Eli Apple not an unknown for New Orleans Saints

'In the evaluation process coming out of college, we were real familiar with him'


The price, player and potential made the trade for Eli Apple a most appealing proposal.

The price? A fourth-round draft pick in 2019 and a seventh-rounder in '20.

The player? Apple, a first-round pick (No. 10 overall) from Ohio State in '16.

The potential? A starting cornerback who figures to provide a needed upgrade to a secondary that has had its share of struggles this season.

Apple, formerly of the New York Giants, will join three former Buckeyes teammates (cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Vonn Bell and receiver Michael Thomas) and another Ohio State alum (safety Kurt Coleman) as he jumps from worst (the Giants were 1-6, last in the NFC East) to first (New Orleans is 5-1, tops in the NFC South).

"Obviously, in the evaluation process coming out of college, we were real familiar with him," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "I think we've got a pretty good handle on the players that have come out of (Ohio State).

"Having a chance to visit – once the draft's taken place – it's not uncommon that we would visit with certain players on our roster about guys they might have played with in college or maybe with prior to another NFL team. We felt good on the information, we like the skill-set and we're excited to work with him. He got in last night."

Payton said he had no issue with the compensation allotted for Apple.

"I think you look at it closely for the value and you look at it closely for what you think a player's value should be," he said. "We felt strong enough that a (fourth-round pick) was something that was worth our while."

Apple arrived in New Orleans on Tuesday night, will practice Wednesday and will figure into the defensive gameplan Sunday night, when the Saints play the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"We'll be working at it today, getting practice snaps today and we'll see where he's at and make sure we have a plan in place that includes him, and we'll see how quickly he transitions," Payton said.

"We felt like (the trade) was in our best interests. We felt like it was going to help us this year."

SAME OLD, SAME OLD: After leading the NFL in total defense (275.9 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (15.8 points) last season, the Vikings have picked up where they left off on several fronts. This year, Minnesota allows more yards (345.9) and points (23.6), but has the league's best defense on third down (23 percent conversion rate allowed) and has rolled up 21 sacks.

Payton said the Vikings' pressure defensively is game-altering.

"They stress your front a couple different ways," he said. "They stress your front when they walk two guys up in the 'A' gaps – or the 'A,' the 'B' gaps – and they thin you out as an offensive line. The running back's got to be involved in the protection, the five offensive linemen have got to be involved.

"And so, one of the challenges, if you're not careful – especially when you're there, playing there with the crowd noise – is you're just a half-count late off the snap, and they're on an edge already. Those two things aren't good news: A half-count late and they're already on your edge."

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