The New Orleans Saints added weapons on offense and defense Friday night in the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft.
New Orleans continued to build its defensive line in the second round, adding Notre Dame defensive end Isaiah Foskey with the 40th pick. The Saints then shifted their attention to the offense, drafting running back Kendre Miller from Texas Christian University with the 71st pick.
Foskey compiled 25 sacks over his four-year career with the Fighting Irish, including 11 takedowns in his junior and senior seasons. The California native is a physical specimen, standing at 6 feet 5 and 264 pounds. He has long arms and is extremely quick, as evidenced by his 4.58 40-yard dash.
Notre Dame defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator Al Washington said Foskey is an every down player who is passionate, tough and a great decision-maker.
"The really good pass rushers, they are relentless in their approach," Washington said. "I think that's Isaiah."
Washington also mentioned Foskey's versatility. The defensive end said the Saints picked him because they know they can put him anywhere on the line.
"I'm a disruptive defensive end: Get me on the field, I'll cause havoc," Foskey said. "Sacks are not good enough. You get a sack, I'm trying to go for the ball."
The Fighting Irish defender contributed in a variety of ways, including on special teams: Foskey blocked four kicks on the Notre Dame field goal unit.
"Play-makers have a knack of making plays," Saints Coach Dennis Allen said.
Foskey said he works on some of his defensive technique through boxing, specifically on the inside when he's fighting against interior offensive linemen. He picked up boxing in high school, and he said it helps him use his hands better.
"Every time I had free time, I just started going back to boxing," Foskey said. "It has a different type of cardio too… I feel like it translated great onto the field."
Foskey said the Saints were the team he wanted to be drafted by after numerous meetings with coaches and staff. He first met with the coaches at the NFL Scouting Combine, followed by a meeting at the Notre Dame Pro Day and subsequent zoom meetings. He said he fell in love with the coaching staff and the vibe of the whole team.
A large part of his desire to go to New Orleans was the potential to play with and learn from veteran defensive end Cameron Jordan , saying he can learn from him and add to his pass rush arsenal.
"That's a Hall of Famer-type guy, and I can learn from him, be a sponge and soak it all in," Foskey said. "That was the biggest thing I wanted to do — be underneath a vet, be with a vet."
Washington also said being around Jordan will help Foskey develop.
"I think it will really help a player like Isaiah," Washington said. "He's intuitive, and he's passionate about the game. I think he will absolutely take advantage of that, being in that locker room."
The Saints used their top two picks to add talent around Jordan, selecting Clemon defensive tackle Bryan Bresee with the 29th pick Thursday.
"Me and (Bresee) are going to be dominating the front seven, so that's great," Foskey said.
Allen said he thinks Bresee and Foskey have versatility to their games, but he initially looks at them as a tackle and end, respectively.
"Not a lot of big men walking the earth right now with that type of athleticism," Allen said of his top two picks. "They're a top priority for us. It's a big man's game, I've said that all along."
Foskey said he can bring an immediate impact to New Orleans by being himself and being a leader. His teammates voted him a captain for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame Coach Marcus Freeman said Foskey makes other people around him better by challenging them, holding them accountable and leading by example.
"He's a quiet person, but he'll flip a switch and become this monster," Freeman said. "I've always said this, Isaiah Foskey has not scratched the surface of how good he can be."
While Foskey looks forward to learning from Jordan, Miller said he is looking forward to learning from Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara. In fact, Miller said he sees some of Saints star Alvin Kamara in his own game in terms of balance.
"I wear a size 14, so my feet are very big, I can keep balance," Miller said. "I got flexibility so I can bend more than other people at my size."
The TCU product has the build of a bell-cow running back, standing at 5-11 and 215 pounds. This past season, he tallied 1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns while leading the Horned Frogs to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. He averaged an impressive 6.7 yards per carry for his career.
Allen said he feels like Miller is more of a one-cut runner than Kamara. He added that Miller does have the ability to make plays out of the backfield catching the ball.
"I feel like I'm most definitely a power runner," Miller said. "I give you speed or power, so I feel like I'm very versatile."
New Orleans signed former Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams to a three-yea deal this offseason to pair with Kamara, and Miller figures to be another key piece to the puzzle in the backfield.
"He's one of those backs I look at and I'm like 'Kendre, you can be him one day,'" Miller said of Williams.
Allen said that being a runner in the NFL for 17 games leads to a lot of hits, so part of the reasoning behind the selection of Miller was to spell Kamara a bit.
"Spread those touches around, spread those carries around, keep everybody healthy," Allen said.
Miller said he had a feeling the Saints were in play — he took a formal visit to New Orleans — but he said it was somewhat unforeseen to get the call.
"This was most definitely a surprise I couldn't wait for," Miller said. "I'm most definitely glad they grabbed me."
While Miller said he sees his balance in Kamara's game, he added there are also pieces of Colts running back Jonathan Taylor in his skillset, specifically speed and explosiveness. Miller injured his knee in the College Football Playoff, but Allen said the Saints feel comfortable with where he is at medically. Miller said he's confident he'll be ready 100% by training camp.
The Saints enter the final day of the NFL Draft with five more selections, including two fifth-round picks and two seventh-round picks.
Behind-the-scenes photos from the Ochsner Sports Performance Center inside the New Orleans Saints' draft room ahead of their second and third round selections in the 2023 NFL Draft.