Tommy Stevens isn't Taysom Hill.
But just in case Hill has to play quarterback for an extended period of time for the New Orleans Saints, the team on Saturday drafted Mississippi State's Stevens, a quarterback New Orleans believes can do some Hill-like things.
"He is a player we kind of followed throughout the full draft process," Coach Sean Payton said. "We've seen him at quarterback and we've also seen him do a number of different things, kind of in that 'F' tight end role. We think he's a real good athlete. We kind of have a vision that'll start with quarterback, but a little bit much like Taysom's."
New Orleans hinted Friday that it might be done with the player-selection portion of the 2020 NFL Draft after trading its remaining four picks to move in position to draft Dayton tight end Adam Trautman in the third round (No. 105 overall). But the Saints ran a reverse Saturday, and got back in the draft to pick Stevens in the seventh round, No. 240 overall.
Payton said the Saints were hoping to sign Stevens as a priority free agent, but the possibility that he would choose another team prompted New Orleans to make a move.
"We had a real good vision for this player," Payton said. Saturday evening "He's athletic enough to play in the kicking game, he's certainly someone that we feel like catches the ball exceptionally well, and he's someone that I think is in a developmental role more as a quarterback. But we saw him do a number of things.
"A lot of his athletic traits – his height, his weight, his speed – all of those things were really good reviews. But I didn't feel like through the process that we were going to be able to get him (as an undrafted rookie). Felt like he was leaning toward another team, and we were late enough in that draft where we had a real clear vision, we didn't want to lose out on the prospect. So it was easy for us to pick up a seventh-round pick and secure that he's coming here."
Stevens (6 feet 5, 235 pounds) finished his college career at Mississippi State as a graduate transfer. He played three seasons at Penn State after a redshirt year, and that's where his versatility was highlighted.
"There were certain gameplans that had me lining up at running back, H-back," Stevens said. "I did some tight end stuff, sometimes I went out wide and lined up as a receiver. I would line up in the backfield and motion in and end up being the quarterback. There were a lot of different things that I did, and it could be beneficial for me in the future."
In 23 games at Penn State, he completed 24 of 41 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns, ran for 506 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 14 passes for 62 yards. In a season at Mississippi State, Stevens passed for 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns, with five interceptions, and ran for 381 yards and four scores.
"I think Taysom brings his own game to the table and I bring mine," Stevens said. "But I'm glad that I'm going to be teammates with somebody like Taysom, and the other quarterbacks in that room. I can't wait to get to work with them. It's just an unbelievable opportunity.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes, whatever the coaches ask me to do. I'm willing to do anything. I'm so happy, so blown away by this."
The Saints were one of several NFL teams that asked Stevens for tape of him running routes prior to the draft.
"My agent and I put together a script that we thought was going to please multiple teams that were asking me about routes," he said. "It wasn't necessarily anything too foreign to me. I did similar things at Penn State in my time there. I've kind of grown up playing multiple positions. It wasn't totally foreign to me, but obviously it's going to need some fine-tuning to have success in the NFL.
"I've heard (the comparison) quite a bit, and my response to that is Taysom obviously brings a unique skill set with his game. People saying my game is similar to his is an honor. I love the way Taysom plays. If I can do similar things that he's done for the Saints organization, I'll be very happy."
So, too, will the Saints.
"We'll pay attention to our other options (in terms of possibly signing another quarterback)," Payton said. "But this is a young, developmental talent that we think is a very good athlete, and we'll find the right spot for him on the field. We do want to work with him at quarterback, and at the same time, he's somebody that I think learns very well. He'll get work in some other positions.
"With each of these players, we always talk about what's the vision, let's describe the vision. Comes in, he's a developmental quarterback. We feel like he's a guy that can play in the kicking game. We feel like he's a guy that can play some F, can help both in the passing game and the running game, develop behind a guy like Taysom Hill who's in that role currently. And then once the player gets here, we begin working with those skill sets and try to develop those as quickly as possible.
"It's always how can we get them on the field, how do we give them their best chance to make a roster, and the next his how do we get them their best chance to be on the gameday roster, which is obviously a little bit different."