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Sean Payton Post Draft Wrap-Up

Saints coach discusses draft that yielded six players

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Post-Draft Press Conference

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Opening Statement:

"We're in the process now as the draft concludes of calling and beginning the recruitment of free agents. That's pretty common right now. There's still a couple of hours of work here, trying to find some guys that we think fit. Overall though, we feel pretty good how it has developed. We moved up to draft a center from Boston College that we liked and then recently we drafted a quarterback from Oregon State."

This is the first quarterback you've drafted since you've been here. Was drafting him here about the same range as trying to get him as a free agent?

"With where we were picking in the seventh round, you're just trying to look at your ability to acquire the player knowing that there were a fair amount of compensatory picks after our selection. Nonetheless, he was a guy that we had seen enough from that we certainly had a draftable grade on.

"He's a lefty. We think he's accurate; we think he's a good decision maker. He really played a year-and-a-half there. Mickey (Loomis) is pretty close with the coach there, who has worked here before. Overall, there was a lot that went into that; a lot of research just trying to identify a second-day quarterback that might be available, and he was one of the guys."

Is there still a need to possibly bring in another veteran quarterback to challenge for the backup job?

"That's a fair question and I think that that possibility still exists. That's something that will sort itself out sooner than later."

Can you give us an overview of the three days of your draft?

"We wanted to go in being flexible and we were able to do that. We feel like we hit some areas. It varied on when we selected the players but we hit some areas that we felt like could help our team. When you look at the two defensive players – inside a tackle and outside a corner; and offensively going backwards really with the quarterback and the center and the left tackle – overall we feel good about it. We'll have a chance to see these guys here in two weeks and start the process of really implementing our system and our schemes and getting them acquainted with the program and getting them brought up to speed."

You had said about a month ago that someone was going to have to replace Mike Bell's carries. Do you still anticipate bringing someone in for that role?

"We're still right now talking with running backs. Lynell Hamilton and Pierre Thomas were both guys that we acquired during this process right now. We'll explore all of our options and see if we can't find someone that we feel like is capable of doing that."

Is there an area of the draft you feel like you wanted to hit but weren't able to?

"We weren't able to draft a linebacker and we weren't able to draft a running back. Those would be the two positions. We thought there might be an opportunity today possibly at running back or linebacker, whether it was inside or outside."

What are your thoughts on the new three-day process of the draft?

"I thought it was good. I the schedule was good from a timing standpoint. I think everyone felt pretty comfortable with it. I think overall it was successful when you look at the way it was received and the early response in regards to the ratings, all of those things were positive."

What are your thoughts on the candidates you currently have to fill Scott Fujita's starting spot?

"We're excited to see a handful of young players. It's probably one of the typical competitions that's going to take place between two or three guys – I don't want to specifically rule anyone in or out but we have some guys that we've drafted and we have some free agents that will all have an opportunity to compete for that spot. That's exciting to see these younger guys and see how they step up. I know Joe (Vitt) will do a good job developing them and that process has already begun; a lot of those guys have played a lot already."

Is there an increased premium on undrafted free agents now? It seems like an area you're spending a lot of time on it.

"I think every team is. With seven rounds – there was a time when the draft lasted longer – so if you look at each roster… If you look at our roster, you have (Jonathan) Casillas, Lynell Hamilton, Pierre Thomas, you could just keep going with guys that earned a spot, no different than someone that was selected early. Really once they're here, how they got here is of no importance to us. We've seen that year-in and year-out so I think this is an important step. If you didn't have examples like that then you might not take it as seriously but we've been able to find some between our scouts and everyone that's working now on the phones. We're not the only team. All the teams take this step very seriously. In Dallas we signed Tony Romo at this time after the draft. There are a number of examples of players that have gone undrafted and gone on to have great careers. The trick is finding them and then getting them to come because it becomes a little bit more of a recruitment battle right now."

How difficult will it be for this group of draft picks to make the roster? Is this the deepest your roster has been going into a year?

"I think each year it's challenging. You never go in with any assumptions; you really just try to pay attention to what you see. You could say that it would be harder with where we're at today than back in '06, but that being said, you're always surprised. We're anxious as coaches to see these guys get in here and begin to work out, knowing that they're behind the guys that they're competing with. That's the biggest challenge for them right now is getting them caught up, not only mentally but physically with where our players are at."

What intrigued you about Al Woods?

"He's a big body. He's someone that showed athleticism. I liked the kid a lot in our visits. He's someone that we felt was continuing to get better. There's a lot in front of him. It just became a matter of finding the right spot, the right time to draft a player. He was someone that we felt might be available on the second day. We brought him in last week and had some time to visit with him and his father. All that went well. I like his size and athleticism. I like his makeup that way. We're pretty familiar with the player."

Why looking at the tape do you think the best is in front of him?

"You see someone who's continuing to get stronger first off. He has good size. I do think as he gets into the system here and becomes familiar with what we're asking him to do, I think he's a guy whose arrow's pointed up. We saw some things we liked in him. It's hard to find those guys and those defensive tackles. You saw the premium placed on the first day in how they're selected. We're excited to take a look at and evaluate him and certainly he understands the challenge in front of him. He was impressive when we had a chance to visit with him and impressive when we had a chance to watch him."

Can you talk again about being in the position to draft Patrick Robinson?

"We sat at 32 and you come up with a circle of players you go through when it's your time to pick. He fell in that circle. We liked his size. We liked his speed. He has good ball skills. He's been very productive and it's a position that's hard to find in the draft. The corners always seem to go maybe a little earlier than you have them graded. If you wait oftentimes you're late on selecting that player. We had success a couple of years ago in where we selected Tracy (Porter). We feel like Patrick is a guy who has good range is someone we feel like can develop into a good player. We wanted to come away from that first pick with someone that was in that circle that we felt like we had a vision for. Clearly we had a vision for him."

What did you see from the center that let you to trade up for him?

"He's a player that has good size. He's extremely intelligent. He's been extremely productive in his career. He has good versatility. When you look at his IQ. He's been very consistent. You can watch seven games on him and each one looks the same. He makes very few mistakes. I think it's important at that position because we ask for so much of Jonathan Goodwin. They're in charge of so much more than blocking and pass protection and getting the front, communicating with the quarterback. All of those things were attributes that we valued with him."

Did losing Jamar Nesbit factor into that pick any?

"Probably a little bit. But, we think that the versatility that he provides, the experience, gives us a young player inside that can play center. We'll see from there."

Do you think that between him and Nick Leckey, you have a backup guard?

"We'll see. I think they'll come in and compete and we'll have a chance to look closely. I feel he (Matthew Tennant) probably has some versatility. The challenge is not neccessarily their position during training camp. It's when the game comes and you're taking seven (active players) into the game, which we did a lot of last year. Somebody has to be a swing guy inside. Somebody has to be a tackle that can go either way on the outside if you're just taking seven. We're trying to pay attention to that."

Was your process in looking at a guy like Jimmy Graham any different than other drafts?

"I think it's been pretty much how we've done it before and we consider it to be best available. You're not just circling a player and taking him. You're hoping that the grade either equals or oftentimes, it's very common where a player's grade might be a round or half-round after you've taken him. Clearly, he sits there along amongst another group of magnets, but it's pretty much the same format we've operated since I've been here with Mickey (Loomis)."

Do you have a specific number of undrafted free agents you would like to sign?

"That's a good question. Probably somewhere in the low teens, maybe 12, 13, 14 in that range."

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