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Quotes: Sean Payton recaps New Orleans Saints Draft 2021

New Orleans Saints head coach recaps the Saints' 2021 NFL Draft

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
NFL Draft Day #3 Press Conference
Saturday, May 1, 202

What did you guys like about Ian book?
"Yeah, so look, we spent a lot of time with him. The first thing you see is a guy that has won a lot of games. He's someone that I think is a good foot athlete. (A) Real good competitor, we liked a lot. He's played in big games, played at a high level so we felt like it was it was right at the right time in the draft that would be good for us and we're glad he was there."

I think all of our eyebrows were raised a little when you made a comment about Ian book on the Dan Patrick show a month ago. Was that you leaving breadcrumbs or does he really remind you of some of your game from when you were in high school and college?
"Listen I read that, I can't remember even making that comment. He doesn't remind me of me. I wouldn't have drafted me. So he's done a great job at Notre Dame. We've seen a lot of his tape, obviously and watched a lot of film on him. Dan (Patrick) had to bring his name up because at that time, generally the host is kind of moving the direction of an interview. But no, it would have been so hard to even project where we were this weekend from that interview."

You guys obviously always looked at quarterbacks and probably would have taken the right one in the fourth round in any year over the last 16 years. But was there more interest in like you say you're in the quarterback business? Was there more interest in getting the young one in the building? Just to see what you've got now after Drew Brees retires?
"Relative to the position and I say this because it's a position that's played later with a lot of guys in their career. There are a lot of young guys that play, I think Trevor's (Siemian) a young quarterback prospect, although he's been in our league. So I don't think we treated this year differently because Drew had retired. I really believe that we had a real good grade on a player that matched right where we were in the process and it fit and look I think going back in the last 15 drafts, there are times that we have had a good grade on quarterbacks that it just did not work out. So in this case, it did."

Are there some similarities between Ian Books athleticism, and what he can bring to the table from both a quarterback standpoint, similar to Taysom Hill?
"Yeah, I can't say that. It's in fairness to Ian (Book) it's hard to say that, you know, because to appreciate Taysom is really to be here and he's a 238-pound player that does things that are unique and to heal his skill set. So I think that would be a hard jump or leap, if you will. In fact, I know it would be. So that wasn't the vision when we selected the player. But we saw someone who was accurate, who threw the ball on time, who led his team to a lot of wins. He's been successful. We saw someone who was very competitive and so those were some important things that we valued. But it wasn't the vision that maybe what has become some of the things that Taysom does."

Do you feel the league has transitioned to the more athletic quarterbacks now?
"Well, look, I think that you can only draft or sign what the college game has given you and so there has that changed? I think the answer would be yes and yet. I think the attributes that we're looking for, relative to that position having and so it helps if they can process information, it helps if they've got some of those intangibles that you look for and then also the physical traits. Are they accurate? Are they competitive? Do you feel like they take care of the football? So I think that over the last 15 years, the game to some degree has changed in how we see college players playing. But you're still applying what are key things to each position, key traits that you that you must have. And so those types of things went into this decision."

What do you like about your class as a whole?
"I said this at the beginning, there was some concern for everybody heading into this draft because, if we were operating in years past with, let's say, 98% of the information, 97% of the information medically, physically all the testing. I think that number would have been a little lower this year because of COVID, there was not an actual combine. So medically, this is a class that is clean, obviously, we feel like they are talented. I like the fact each one of these picks are prototyped relative to their position. I like the fact that we feel like it's a smart class, relative to what we're going to ask them to do. And so you know, the scouts and everyone involved in the process did a good job with some challenging circumstances. And that goes for even these prospects it was a different offseason and you have players opted out, you had games missed. There were a lot of guys, a lot of good football players, maybe, who didn't have quite the same type of junior or senior year that they may have otherwise. Some of it was conference driven, there were a number of reasons. So I think that we felt really good about, the height, weight, speed and intelligence of this class. And then also the vision that we have for each of these players. I think the one area that's super important is what's the vision onto our roster and then we kind of go from there."

Kind of following up on that, I know Mickey (Loomis) said the same thing last night, when you draft the player, what is his path to the roster? just kind of maybe circling back to (Ian) Book, is his path to the roster as a developmental quarterback? Or does he have a chance literally to come in and maybe, I know everybody's competing, but competing against the guy who was the starter for five years in Jameis (Winston) and a guy in Taysom (Hill) that you've been developing for a while?
"Yeah, look, that would be, again, that would be I think, a little bit of a jump. But we're not going to ever put a ceiling on what we think a player might be able to do. But his job will be to come in here and as quickly as possible, get up to speed with what we're doing, our terminology. And then we go from there. I understand the question, but I think that it starts with getting the player in the building and getting a chance to quickly start teaching and coaching what we do. The rest of it, sometimes that takes longer, sometimes it doesn't. But I think he'll be a good fit with our room and with our team."

After you guys were not able to get in the top 10 for one of the top one or two cornerbacks, you guys stayed pat with your first and second round picks. Was any of that in relation to feeling like (Paulson) Adebo could be a good value later in the draft compared to the guys that would have cost more early?
"Well, Mike (Triplett), I think the challenge sometimes is trying to create what you think would be a pick to play right away, if you will. I think sometimes, and a lot of times, the draft comes to you then. And that is where we felt really good about the Payton Turner selection. So to leave that grade, in hopes of another player that you might need more at a certain position, I think would be a mistake. The key is getting them in the building and getting enough good football players in the building. And then the rest of it begins to sort itself out and you look back three years from now and you really get a chance to evaluate your class. I've said that before. So that's kind of the approach we took."

With (Paulson) Adebo specifically, I mean, he was first guy you moved up for in this draft. Was he a guy that you had real good vision for right there?
"There was and at the right place. He was one that didn't play as much this past season. But I think that had a lot to do with the conference he was in, the Pac-12. There were quite a few Pac-12 players that ended up not playing there last year. We like all of his traits, every one of them and Mickey (Loomis) alluded to it last night. We feel like we're drafting a good football player and we'll begin that process of developing him shortly."

Will you guys look to maybe add a veteran to that mix in addition to him, or do you think he could be ready enough to maybe take that other job right away?
"He will compete like all of these guys will. And I would not say we are definitely going to, but I would not also discount that we might look to sign another player. We didn't fill up every spot tonight in free agency with the undrafted players because there's still a grade that we're looking to sign. So we'll have enough, clearly we'll have enough, wiggle room as most teams will, heading into the spring."

Going back to the just draft process itself, were there any players in this draft that you just sort of had to stay away from just because you didn't have enough information?
"Certainly there were some red and blue tags like we have every year, I don't know that we put a red or a blue tag on a player because we didn't have enough information. Certainly, here's how it impacts a possible medical player. Oftentimes, a player will have a certain medical grade, there will be a combine physical, there will be certain things that everybody in the league will have a chance to see. There'll be follow ups, that's pretty normal. There might even be on campus visits where they are seeing for a specific injury. So it really, when you're discussing the medical challenges, we still had a number of players graded with a medical grade that we were mindful of. In some cases, there wasn't that clean clarity relative to an injury, if that makes sense. Now, were there additional players below the board, if you will, I don't know that there, it would be hard to point to a bigger amount. But I know after our first medical meeting, when we went through all the prospects, there were a number of tests still being taken place, exams or images that we were waiting on. Like every team, you're trying to collect those as quickly as you can prior to the draft beginning."

Can you run down the general position visions for (Pete) Werner, (Landon) Young and (Kawaan) Baker?
"Let me just go through each one of them. We list a position and we think, obviously Payton (Turner) is a defensive end that can play on either side. You'd say you do see him with prototype height, weight and size. He has good length. We feel like he plays the run and pass equally well. And so he'd be an end. Pete Werner is someone we saw position flex with, we'll probably start him out at Will. He is someone that can play Will to Mike, but certainly a stack or inside linebacker. But we are in so much sub defense, he'll be playing one of those two spots competing in one of those two spots at either Will or Mike. With Paulson we see a corner, an outside corner. We'll probably in the early going here, put him on the left side. Ian Book certainly at the quarterback position. Landon Young, I think reads very clearly for us as a tackle. So we'll probably work him at right to begin with, he's played left. I think he's smart enough to play both. But that would be our vision with him. And then Kawaan Baker, the receiver we took later in the draft, is someone that has position flex relative to you see him line up in the slot. He's a high IQ player for the receiver position. He's played in multiple positions. We will probably work him outside to begin with as we start the (rookie) minicamp."

Is the vision for Zack Baun still at linebacker?
"Sure is. Yes."

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