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New Orleans Saints still looking to fill linebacker need in NFL Draft

'It would be nice if we could fill it through the draft'

See which of the Top 50 draft-eligible prospects according to NFL Network draft guru and former NFL scourt Daniel Jeremiah still remain following the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

You weren't wrong.

In fact, New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton confirmed as much Thursday night, when he spoke to the media following the first round of the NFL Draft.

Linebacker, indeed, is a position of need for the Saints.

But the franchise wasn't so enamored with one that it felt a selection was warranted at No. 24 in the first round, not when New Orleans had higher-rated players in its cloud of potential picks. Rather than force a fit, the Saints opted for Michigan center/guard Cesar Ruiz, whom the team expects to play as a rookie.

Still, as teams prepare to make second- and third-round selections Friday night in the draft, New Orleans will be looking to find a linebacker whose grade fits the pick. The Saints enter Friday without a second-round pick; their third-round selection is scheduled to be No. 88 overall.

"These linebackers, what's left of them I think will go pretty quick," Payton said. "There's still some receivers I'm sure that are going to get drafted. We'll focus closely (Friday) morning – we already kind of have a second cloud. But the problem is, (Thursday) night we opened the draft at 24. Technically, we start the draft at 88 (on the second day). There's going to be a whole second round and then into the third round.

"Now, that's not to say that we couldn't move forward, and we'll look to do that if the right player is there. We know we've got a need position at linebacker, we've got to fill that some way, shape or form. Now, it may not be through the draft, but it would be nice if we could fill it through the draft.

"And we've done a good job in years past now, in the last four or five years, the first round is over with but this is where you get to define how your draft class is. Whether it's the second round or the third round or the fourth round, or fifth or sixth, we feel like there are some good football players in this draft. Part of it is letting it come to you and understanding the grade, and then the other part of it is identifying maybe someone you have a clear vision for and going (and) getting him.

"And I think that, we'll pay attention to that. Because we feel like right now, there's some players on this board that we'd all love to have. But part of it is being patient."

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