Indianapolis – Draft prospects are smart enough to know that it's wise to say they want to play for any team that's suggested as a hypothetical destination during media inquiries at the NFL Combine. So Tulane receiver Ryan Grant and LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. were quick to say that, indeed, they'd relish playing for the New Orleans Saints.
But it actually might be a preferable destination for each, if the scenario were to play out that either could pursue a pro career in New Orleans.
For Grant, it'd allow him to stay in the city and play for the team he watched for four years at Tulane. And the transition for him might be easier than it would be for most; his Tulane coach, Curtis Johnson, was a Saints assistant under Coach Sean Payton and Johnson installed a scaled-down version of New Orleans' offense at Tulane.
"I love their offense," Grant said. "I'm familiar with a few of their coaches so I wouldn't mind staying in New Orleans and playing for the Saints.
"It would be easy for me to go in there and just pick up the offense and gel with those guys."
In Beckham's case, playing for the Saints would mean coming back home.
The New Orleans native played football at Newman before heading to Baton Rouge to become a star for the Tigers.
"That would be a perfect fit to go there," Beckham said. "It'd be home, in an offensive system like that, with Drew Brees at quarterback. The way they use their receivers is great to see, guys getting open and Drew Brees spreading the ball around. Obviously, it's wherever the chips fall (in the draft), you've just got to be able to take advantage of the opportunity."
Each admits his opportunity to play in New Orleans, and anywhere else in the NFL, will be enhanced with a good 40-yard dash time at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend. It won't be the determining factor, because each stacked his resume – Grant caught 70 passes for 926 yards and nine touchdowns in his final seasion; Beckham had 59 receptions for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
But it won't hurt, either. !(http://www.neworleanssaints.com/media-center/photo-gallery/2014-NFL-Scouting-Combine-Friday/27f26a1b-7b36-4c0e-a9fa-da4d9ebe3f73 "new orleans saints")
"I've been working on my 40 pretty hard," Grant said. "I'm hoping to run a good time for the scouts. But I've also been working on the routes they're going to be running. I want to look smooth and fundamentally sound on the routes."
Said Beckham: "I'm looking forward to running a fast 40. I definitely think that that'll help."
Also looking to help himself, but via the interview process, will be LSU running back Jeremy Hill.
Hill, who ran for 1,401 yards last season, has had a couple of off-field incidents in the past, including his guilty plea to misdemeanor battery stemming from an incident outside a bar in April 2013.
"It's a business at this point," Hill said. "These owners and GMs are investing a lot of money into you, so I think it's best for you to just to be open and honest, give them the information they need. You don't have very much time so you have to let them get to know you as much as possible in a small amount of time, (and) the best way to do that is to be open and honest.
"They've done their homework, they already know what's going on. It's just up to me to be honest about it and let them know, be forthcoming, and let them know everything that happened and everything else will take care of itself after that.
"I don't think it's unfair (for the past to be a consideration). I put myself in that situation. But I'm not really focusing on those things. I'm just moving forward and doing the right things from here on out."
Hill said he doesn't know how the incidents will affect his draft status.
"No one knows," he said. "I'm going into draft day with nothing expected, and just being blessed and honored if any team takes me. I don't really have any high expectations, I'm just going in there doing everything I'm supposed to do and trying to make it as tough as possible for those GMs and coaches."