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John DeShazier: Garrett Grayson excited for opportunity to learn from Drew Brees

Grayson: 'I have no problem sitting behind a Hall of Famer like Drew Brees and learning'

Third-round draft pick Garrett Grayson (No. 75 overall) knows exactly where he fits and how he should comport himself when he arrives at the New Orleans Saints' training facility.

The rookie quarterback who played at Colorado State is clear on what will be his role.

"(Saints starting quarterback Drew Brees is) an NFL Hall of Famer in my book," Grayson said. "I'm just extremely excited to get behind him and learn as much as I can. I'm going to come down there and compete like I'm a starter, I think as any position should. I'm just extremely excited to learn from him. I hope to learn as much as I can to prepare me for the next couple of years."

But he knows any playing time will come later, rather than sooner.

"I'm coming to compete like a starter, like anybody should," he said. "But I have no problem sitting behind a Hall of Famer like Drew Brees and learning, just like Aaron [Rodgers] did with Brett Favre (in Green Bay). I have no issue with that."

Like most NFL teams, the Saints have clearly defined expectations for each of their nine draft picks. And, like most, the Saints approve of the haul they were able to collect during the recent NFL Draft.

"We have another draft in the books and I am pretty excited about the picks that we made," General Manager Mickey Loomis said Saturday night. "I want to make sure and acknowledge and thank (new assistant general manager) Jeff Ireland, our college scouts, our pro scouts, and our coaches for doing a great job this year."

The results of the job were this: offensive lineman Andrus Peat and inside linebacker Stephone Anthony in the first round (Nos. 13 and 31 overall); outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha in the second round (No. 44); Grayson and cornerback P.J. Williams in the third (Nos. 75 and 78); linebacker Davis Tull, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison and cornerback Damian Swann in the fifth (at Nos. 148, 154 and 167, respectively); and running back Marcus Murphy in the seventh round (No. 230).

And the vision is clear.

Peat can back up at either tackle position behind left tackle Terron Armstead or right tackle Zach Strief, or perhaps compete at left guard with Tim Lelito.

Anthony will have an opportunity to help replace Curtis Lofton and earn snaps at inside linebacker alongside David Hawthorne. Kikaha, who led the nation with 19 sacks at Washington last year, and Tull will be counted on to help pressure opposing quarterbacks.

Williams and Swann will compete for snaps in the sub packages defensively (each said he excels at press coverage on the line), Davison can supply depth at defensive tackle and Murphy will have an opportunity to add depth at running back (get him in space and let him work) as well as upgrade the special teams units as an electrifying returner.

In fact, most – if not all – likely will be counted on to play special teams for the Saints.

So while it may be difficult for all nine draft picks immediately to make an impact, or for all even to make the roster, it won't be because they don't know how they're expected to fit or how they'll be used.

Especially defensively, the Saints may benefit from their six picks. Last season, the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384) and fifth-most points (26.5) per game.

"Well your first hope is that there's that vision that they all can contribute in some way," Coach Sean Payton said. "We value guys that can cover, and I think that's something that'll be important. We've got a couple of corners that we feel can do that.

"Also, the guys up front, we have a real good outside linebacker early in the draft in (Hau'oli) Kikaha and interior wise, a defensive tackle."

Offensively, as there will be with Grayson, there also will be time for Peat and Murphy to grow and develop. Since Payton became head coach in 2006, the Saints annually have had one of the NFL's most productive offenses.

Thus, there was – and remains – a sense of calm in the aftermath of the team's offseason trades of tight end Jimmy Smith (to Seattle, for center Max Unger and the draft pick that became Anthony), guard Ben Grubbs (to Kansas City, for the pick that became Davison), and receiver Kenny Stills (to Miami, for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and the pick that became Williams), and the release of running back Pierre Thomas.

Among the players expected to help the Saints absorb the absence of the aforementioned players are Lelito, tight end Josh Hill and receivers Seantavious Jones and Brandon Coleman.

"Yes, I think we do have confidence in our ability to move the football and score points," Loomis said. "I think coming into the draft we would say that. That doesn't and didn't preclude us from thinking about drafting a tight end or a wide receiver, but it just didn't really fall to us that way.

"Look, it is not a bad thing because we have a lot of confidence in guys that we have on our roster now. I think that is a little bit of a reflection of that because obviously there is a number of times when we are picking there are real good receivers available and yet there are other guys at other positions available in a similar, if not better, grade range so that is the direction that we went."

Next, it will be up to the draftees to determine their direction within the franchise. The vision is clear, it's just a matter of whether they can grow into it.

Associated Press photos of new Saints QB Garrett Grayson.

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