New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced that the club has signed its 2021 draft class to four-year contracts; defensive end Payton Turner, linebacker Pete Werner, cornerback Paulson Adebo, quarterback Ian Book, offensive tackle Landon Young and wide receiver Kawaan Baker.
Turner was the Saint's first round draft choice (28th overall) out of the University of Houston and the club's first pick overall. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Houston native started 27-of-39 games during his four seasons and notched career totals of 115 tackles (68 solo), 10 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, 10 passes defensed and one blocked punt. As a senior in 2020, Turner played in five games with four starts and recorded 25 tackles (17 solo), 10.5 stops for loss, five sacks for a loss of 33 yards and one forced fumble.
Werner, 6-3, 242, was New Orleans' second round pick (60th overall) out of Ohio State. The Indianapolis native appeared in 47 games with 31 starts, recording 185 tackles, 16 stops for loss, four sacks, 11 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Werner helped power the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff championship game as a senior in 2020, when he was voted by Big Ten coaches as a first-team All-Conference selection and a Butkus Award semifinalist, posting 54 tackles, 2.5 stops for loss, one sack and two forced fumbles. Werner graduated this spring with his degree in real estate and urban analysis.
The Saints 2021 draft class of Payton Turner, Pete Werner, Paulson Adebo, Ian Book, Landon Young and Kawaan Baker made it official Tuesday, June 8 by signing their 2021 rookie contracts with New Orleans.
Adebo, 6-1, 198, was the club's third round draft choice (76th overall) and a two-year contributor at Stanford where he appeared in in 22 games with 21 starts and recorded 97 tackles, 34 passes defensed and eight interceptions, earning All-Pac-12 honors in 2018 and 2019. Adebo opted out of his final college season in 2020, but totaled 33 tackles, 10 pass breakups and four interceptions in 2019, leading the Pac-12 Conference in passes defended per game and interceptions per game.
Book, 6-0, 206, was New Orleans' fourth-round pick (133rd overall) out of Notre Dame where he enjoyed a career that saw him become the Irish's winningest quarterback in school history with 30 victories. In four seasons in South Bend, Book played in 45 games and completed 728-of-1,141 attempts for 8,948 yards, 72 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, while carrying 361 times for 1,517 yards and 17 touchdowns. The El Dorado, Calif., native was a Manning Award finalist his redshirt senior year in 2020, as he led the Fighting Irish into the College Football Playoff, completing 228-of-353 (64.6%) passes for 2,830 yards with 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions, while carrying 116 times for 485 yards and nine touchdowns.
After a trade with Denver, the Saints selected Young, 6-7, 321, with their sixth round draft choice (206th overall) out of the University of Kentucky. A two-time All-SEC selection, Young was a key anchor on a Wildcats offensive line that was named semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award, which recognizes the nation's best offensive line in 2019 and 2020, uplifting a program whose senior class won 37 games, the most in a five-season span since 1949-53. The Lexington, Ky., native appeared in 49 games with 26 starts, including 24 in a row at left tackle and was selected as a team captain for his senior season in 2020.
Baker, 6-1, 215, was New Orleans' seventh round and final draft choice (255th overall) out of South Alabama. In his college career, the Atlanta native started 35-of-45 games for the Jaguars and caught 126 passes for 1,829 yards (14.5 avg.) with 16 touchdowns. In his senior season, Baker posted career-high totals with 51 catches for 659 yards and eight touchdowns to be selected second-team all-Sun Belt Conference. In addition, Baker returned 16 kickoffs for 264 yards and added 42 yards on the ground to finish second on the team with career-best 965 all-purpose yards.