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Sean Payton recaps the 2017 NFL Draft

Quotes and video from Sean Payton's Saturday press conference

New Orleans Saints Head Coach
Sean Payton Post-Draft Press Conference
Saturday, April 29, 2017

Opening statement:
"Look right now the process for the scouts and the coaches is getting the board organized like we would always do for free agency. It really is a positon stack if you look at the board. Offensive players over to defensive players. In the event a player is not drafted trying to prioritize who it is you want to sign first. You guys have heard me talk about it before. There is a lot going on in a short amount of time between the agent, the prospect, our coach, our scout that knows the player. Mickey (Loomis), Khai (Harley), myself, Jeff (Ireland) really it is all hands on deck for the hour or two hours after the draft. That is kind of where we are at with our preparation."

How much do you think you improved your defense?
"Well we are going to find out. We'd like to think that we have. I'm quite certain we have, to what degree we'll get a better feel for. We have hit a number of positons. I heard you talking with Mickey (Loomis) yesterday, a lot of times your priority or a must might not come to you in the first round. Cornerback was a must positon so we were able to do that with a player that we're excited about and managing that board and making sure you're receiving the value is extremely important. I think Jeff Ireland and his staff, the scouts have done a great job and Jeff is someone who's very experienced at this process and I think this is his third draft here with us and he's been a tremendous asset. We're excited about the way things fell. I know most teams are. They always are at this time of the year, but looking down at the list and just seeing where and how we were able to acquire these guys. The (Alvin) Kamara pick for instance essentially this year's three is worth next year's two. It was pretty easy, really another third round selection. That's the value as trades take place. If you're talking about a pick this year and then or talking about a future pick generally you skip down one round so we felt like it was tremendous value in that acquisition, but again we'll get all these guys in here and will begin the process quickly of getting them all up to speed and there were clear visions for all of these players. Clear visions as to how we see them being used. I think that is important."

How did the process go with Al-Quadin Muhammad?
"Yes, we spent a lot of time on campus. He was here, he is someone when you talk to those people at the school, they had a strong opinion about him in regards to football makeup. Certainly he made some mistakes, but they were ones we were very comfortable with. The rental car what have you. This is a guy that loves football and we sat for a good round and a half waiting on this selection and he's a pressure player. We think he's physical, he was heavily recruited (out of high school). He's from North Jersey played at Don Bosco (which has a) strong football program there, (was) highly recruited to Miami and I think that it was a real good addition for us today."

Where do you think Muhammad would have gone if not for the character concerns?
"I do not know that those were strong. It is tough for me to answer that, but we are pretty picky when it comes to (character issues). I kept listening to the makeup grade and felt pretty comfortable with what I was hearing and relative to some players that were off the board. This guy's made some mistakes, but he's been a real good teammate. A guy that coaches, players there really felt strongly about."

Was it tough to evaluate a guy that hasn't played since 2015?
"It is a little difficult. You know you're looking at his measurables, his combine (results), pro day (results), you are looking at tape from his freshman year where he played and there are some traits that are exciting."

Do you compare the tape from his freshman year to now?
"We look at all the snaps and putting all the profile tape together on the right side, the left side. He's a physical player, he's someone that we were real excited about and we just had to wait a good round and a half to see where we'd be if he fell."

Were there any positon groups you wanted to hit that you didn't?
"You never really go through the process and hit everything you want. Yes, it would be hard to say. We had corner obviously, a pressure player defensive end was important. We felt like we got a real good linebacker. We've got to sort through how we play nickel and I think the versatility we now have with the safety we drafted. There are a few things on that side of the ball. The tackle is a player that all of a sudden in the first round with the grade we had it just fell for us fortunately. Not looking at the whole depth, we felt pretty good about how these values fell. More so this year than I can recall in a long time and we'll see. When you have two first round picks you're hoping that you fall into those situations."

Was making seven draft picks a high priority?
"Yes, I mean there were discussions with each pick moving up, moving back and then it was really even the last pick there were three opportunities to pick up a seventh, but we didn't want to do that with this player available. I don't know that we went in saying we need to make all seven picks, but I think we went in with patience seeing how this thing falls and we knew we weren't wanting to move up early and give up what we felt was one of the stronger parts of the draft in rounds two and three. We didn't want to do that."

Was it hard not to trade up to secure Marshon Lattimore?
"Yes, with that player (we) discussed with a couple teams moving up a pick or two picks up and then when it fell to two picks and they (Kansas City) drafted Patrick Mahomes and there it was for us then all of a sudden. That was part of the equation of (Marshon) Lattimore falling to us. Had they taken (Marshon) Lattimore then our next player we had Lattimore, then Mahomes would have been a guy we had real strong grades on."

What is your thinking trading a future second for a third?
"It's of the same value it's just we felt like this is a real strong draft. The value chart is dead even and so then it's just hey would we like this player in any of these scenarios and the answer is yes and that was an easy decision with the depth of this draft."

What do you mean by that?
"It is from a value chart though if we are talking about a three this year, the team we are trading with would know that they'd get a two next year. If we were talking about a two this year it'd be a one next year. If you are talking about a seven, it would be a six. That is pretty standard and then for us when you have real high grades on this player and our vision is crystal clear. We know exactly how we are going to play (Alvin Kamara) him and what his strengths are. He is a guy that we are real familiar with, not only from the combine, to even our private workout we had a Tennessee."

Would this have been the first time you would have selected a quarterback in the first round as a coach or strongly considered taking one that high as Saints coach?
"No, I can't say that here we've had discussions about drafting a quarterback maybe 10 picks out, eight picks out. I can't recall in the time I've been here this would have been the first discussion at 11 or a pick like that that we discussed a quarterback. We've discussed them in the second round, we have discussed them in the third round. Either they have fallen or been drafted. It just so happened we had real good grades on Patrick (Mahomes). We liked him a lot."

Was that because Drew Brees is 38 this year?
"No, put him (Mahomes) in our room and go through the process like we did we're going to have a high grade on him. Three years ago, now whether you're willing to invest a first round pick that early in the process (maybe not), but we just had a real strong opinion of him and then a private workout through the process we saw his skillset and yeah certainly that changes as your players begin to (age), but listen it all worked out. It worked out real well."

Are you hard to please when it comes to quarterbacks?
"Here is the thing I hear and see often. Well they didn't receive their quarterback in the first round and they went ahead and drafted one in the third round and they got great value. Well what if only two of them in this draft are worth it. I think you have to specifically (look), there might be two or three, but what do you see and how do you think he fits and that's how we think a little bit and there are some years we might like one, we might like two or three. We kind of liked the Tennessee kid later in the draft (Josh) Dobbs. We had a real good visit with him and we always use that expression it's not rocket science when we are coaching and he is the first player we could actually say well it is for him. It's his major right? Pretty interesting."

Will you sign a QB tonight?
"Not necessarily, we've gone to camp with three or four. We may."

Is there one thing that jumped out at you about Patrick Mahomes?
"Here is the one thing that stood out. This player could climb, escape, throw from all the positions and we play in an imperfect game where there are protection issues and we just saw him make throws going left, going right. Through the pocket, up in the pocket I mean really unique throws and look man in a conference and on a team that had to go into a game and fell like scoring 45 (points) was going to give them a chance, but when you meet him and get a chance to visit with him on the football DNA listen I think Kansas City and Andy (Reid) got a heck of a player. Fortunately, for us their selection of Patrick (Mahomes) pushed (Marshon) Lattimore down a spot and there are certain things you can't predict and a couple of receiver went earlier than we expected and we were in positon."

Were there any surprises the way the draft unfolded?
"I think there was quite a few, there are always quite a few. Just the ones that aren't as notable, but it's very normal to be sitting in the third round and there is a guy picked and the scouts and coaches look up and go all the way over to the right where we have the free agent grade and we take that magnet and put it over there and be like wow and you just hope a bunch of teams aren't doing that with your picks."

Would you have taken Alvin Kamara at 42?
"We discussed it a lot. There are a handful of players you just have a clear vision for and he was one of those guys, Extremely smart and versatile. We got to Tennessee and he had done everything at the combine. We spent time on the night before would be normal for us to have dinner with a group of players and those guys were fantastic. All of them were there at dinner and the next day we just did football drills and I think he was comfortable, he had done his work at the combine and I said you're not going to run any routes for me and his plan wasn't to and I said I want to see you do some things here, stuff that we do and fortunately for him he ran in and put his cleats on and came back out and he and the quarterback went from the receiver drill to much like you would a private workout and he ran a number of routes and we actually had him catch punts after and you go through process and there are a few guys that just stand out and he was one of them and afterwards we got on the phone yesterday and said those might have been the best 11 routes or the best decision to go get your cleats on that you made in a long time, but he's real smart and I think he has a lot of versatility."

Is it safe to say you found your satellite running back?
"Listen he's that type of player that gives you a lot of different versatility and we just had a real high grade on him in that role. I think he will play on fourth down in the kicking game. I think he has real good makeup and IQ. I think he will be a good fit for our team and our system in that room. That was a pick we were excited about."

What about Marshon Lattimore makes you think he can contribute quickly?
"He's smart and has extremely good ball skills, explosive. I think he will have a chance to compete. All of these guys are going to have to compete and earn their spots. We never put them in the starting lineup or anything. They all come in and compete. There's a bunch of good football players on this team and he'll be one of those guys that comes in and competes at outside corner. I think he is comfortable playing on either side. He has good height, he's smart and extremely explosive."

What did you think of his hardships growing up?
"Yeah, just real good grit and a guy that your root for and you respect and there's just that factor of perseverance. You see the passion in the player and he's well respected on his team. All of those things."

Did you draft Alvin Kamara knowing he could coexist with Adrian Peterson?
"Yeah, obviously is, with Adrian (Peterson) we knew after we signed Adrian and the year Mark (Ingram) just had it was going to take us out of drafting just the pure running back and really there were two or three players that we looked at that we felt had those unique traits as a joker backer or a running back that we would do some things uniquely different with and Alvin was one of those guys. He was definitely one of those guys."

With Ted Ginn Jr. and Alvin Kamara joining the team this offseason was that partly to help the return game?
"Yeah, it was part of the plan and we wanted to help our kicking game and hopefully we can do that even after the draft with guys that might be in a cover role, but we have a few candidates in the building and on the team that we feel like we'll be able to add a few guys now whether it's through punt or kickoff return that will give us a chance to at least compete for those spots."

What about injury concerns for some of the players?
"The injury concerns we have with (Ryan) Ramcyzk are crystal clear and clean. (Alex) Anzalone was the one player with the shoulder that we spent a lot of time with. (Marshon) Lattimore's hamstring it's not like when we spent time with the doctors where we discuss a knee or we discuss a foot. We were discussing his hamstrings and look enough to where he's missed playing time, but the two that we spent most of the time and really started with the linebacker and we spent some time just going through (Ryan) Ramzcyk again and we feel like the prognosis is good with those guys."

Jesse Schmitt is he the long snapper?
"He's one right now and we'll look to sign one after the draft probably."

How much did Ted Ginn Jr. help with the Marshon Lattimore pick?
"It was more coincidence. Mike Thomas, Ted Ginn are both familiar with him. Early in the process before Ted was here, we met with Michael one day just with the Ohio State players and just what are your thoughts since he was just there and he had good insight as to how they are wired and their makeup. That would be pretty normal for us to do with a young player who was just a teammate of a player of their school."

What are some other examples where you've taken guys after talking to former college teammates?
"I can't think of one, maybe in a few minutes, but we've done that a lot. Like we have done that in free agency as well."

What is the vision for Alex Anzalone?
"He's got flexibility, I see this guy as someone whose played Will, Sam and Mike and I don't know that we'd just initially said that we would start him out on the weakside, but we've got real good depth now at a number of positions. He is the one linebacker in this draft that we felt could play all three (positions). He's real smart, but I think he's someone that is pretty good in the passing game as well. I could see him starting off at the weakside."

Is it an open competition at the Mike?
"These guys are all competing right now. It's an open competition period."

Who do you envision being the Sam out of this group?
"We'll get you the depth chart (joking) and we're not giving it to you tonight, but A.J. (Klein) has played at the Sam position before, Nate (Stupar) has played the Sam before. I think (Alex) Anzalone can play the Sam. We'll get going and see how they handle it and try to get our best guys on the field."

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