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Sean Payton recaps the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft

Quotes and video from Sean Payton's press conference from Thursday

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Local Media Availability
Thursday, April 30, 2015

Opening Statement: "I will just kind of go through both of these players. Starting off with Andrus Peat, he was a player for us that obviously had a high grade.  We feel like not only is he a good young athlete, but his upside, we feel, is tremendous, good size, great makeup, good character.  He has versatility to play either tackle position.  It was kind of interesting in the early part of that first round, first off, where the second quarterback Marcus (Mariota) went and then kind of hanging in there.  (Brandon) Scherff got taken a little earlier than a lot projected and so you wait at New York (Giants), (they) selected another tackle.  We played around with possibly moving up, we were fortunate that he (Andrus Peat) was available at 13.  He is a player that we are real familiar with.  David Shaw and I worked together back in Philadelphia.  We've had this player on an interview at the combine.  We've had him here on a trip.  For us, clearly, we felt like it was our highest rater player on the board at that time.  Later in the draft then, obviously as the selections continued to unfold, it becomes a little bit trickier if you will. Stephone Anthony is another player that we have done a ton of research on.  There are a handful of linebackers, really, that we felt that could play inside and potentially outside, all of which we feel like are real good players.  But we like the makeup, his size, his flexibility, position flexibility, I think he can play either inside position.  I think he is probably most suited to play Mike, so he has that body type.  Again, a leader of their team and an outstanding season, great defense, right at the top of the country in defense, and a lot of prospects on that defense.  Through the process we watched a ton of Clemson film.  When you are watching them you are looking at, obviously, a number of different players.  I am kind of excited here at the conclusion of the first round.  We get started again tomorrow, I think an hour earlier, with another pick high in that second round.  Any questions?"

What did David Shaw tell you about Andrus Peat?

"You are going through the various mocks and you see two or three guys as if we are going to be candidates at that pick if we are not moving forward or moving back.  If we were going to move forward it was going to be a couple picks, but we really value the selections we have and we didn't want to give away too much to go all the way up, and quite honestly that opportunity didn't exist.  I called David and it was starting with Andrus (Peat).  He's young and his film is outstanding.  He is big.  He is very athletic.  His father and I are the same age.  His father went to Champagne Central High School which is in the middle of the state of Illinois.  The first time I met his dad we were seniors being recruited by Northern Illinois.  His dad played guard in the league for a long time.  I just remember seeing his dad on that college visit.  I can remember it was 1981 like it was yesterday.  His dad had one of those letterman jackets on with five varsity letters all over it and I only had played my senior year.  I hadn't gotten my letter yet so I had stuff my mom gave me to make up really my letterman's coat.  His dad went on to have a great career at Northern, he was drafted, played a long time.  This guy has all the things you look for.  He is smart.  He is big.  He is very athletic.  He is built much differently than his father, his stature.  He has long arms, and more than anything it is confirmation of calling David and talking more about (him) and within five minutes I knew from the phone call that David saw him the same way we did, but I wanted to hear him tell me that.  He has a tremendous makeup to be real good in this league.  And then it was to talk about a few other players from Stanford, and then with the relationship I have with David, to talk about players in the Pac-12 he saw at other schools that are on our board, how he saw them as a coach. He has experience in that league. He and I shared an office in Philadelphia.  He is a real bright coach and I think he does a great job just doing some draft analysis, but that was an important call."

Can you talk about how you have Zach Strief and Terron Armstead at tackle?

"Listen, Terron (Armstead) has done a great job.  Obviously Zach (Strief) is fantastic. And every year we are trying to draft the quality of player available and all that other stuff will handle itself and work itself out.  It would be easy if you were just selecting right where you needed a player, and I don't think that is the right way to approach it, and we have never approached it that way.  We just feel like we have a real good offensive lineman coming in and he is someone that is one of those graduations that are later.  He will be available for the rookie camp but it will put his clock back a little bit with regards to when he can begin with us with Stanford's graduation date."

Did you go into the draft wanting to draft a tackle?

"Offensive tackle we viewed as a position that wasn't a high priority in the draft, but it is certainly a position we would call a 'need' position. Maybe not a 'must', but a 'need'. First off, we value the offensive and defensive lines in the draft. The tackle position is extremely hard to fill in free agency so it's a position that's valued very highly in the draft. I don't know that we went into the draft saying we must have a tackle, especially in the first round. Yet it was an area when we talked about the nine picks, what we would like to have happen in these nine selections, and one of those was an offensive tackle."

Did you go into the draft saying you need an inside linebacker early?

"Inside linebacker was another position we felt we wanted to draft. It's really a position we haven't drafted, I think there have been one or two true inside linebackers in the last 10 years. All of the things fit with Stephone. Again we got really familiar with him in the process. We loved the make-up. He's sharp. He's the leader of their defense. When you talk to Brent Veneble, who is the head coach there, or anyone back there, his name comes up in five seconds. Then the production on the film was good. Then when you look at the combine numbers, when you look at his size. Some of those things separated him in a group that we felt was really good. There are a handful of guys that are going to get drafted early tomorrow with how we had them stacked. I think that's going to happen. We'll see a few more of those inside linebackers taken within the first 10 or 15 picks."

Will Strief, Armstead, and Peat compete at offensive tackle or would any of them be guards?

"I don't see that initially. Terron and Zach we feel are ones of veteran experience. One's a tremendous leader for us at right tackle and one's a real sharp and talented left tackle. Andrus will come in and I'm sure we'll give him reps at both positions."

Will Peat be available for starting position?

"I wouldn't put a label on him. With all of these guys we're going to get them in our program, get them caught up to speed with what we're doing, and not put a tag on them. When they say 'plug him in, he'll start.' We don't know. We certainly feel like he has a ceiling that's extremely high. I would say the two sacks we saw on the highlight film today were the only two of the season. His production was outstanding."

The one note on him is that they wish he played nastier and meaner. Did you see that?

"I can think of a lot of tackles where sometimes it's a quiet personality. I love the way this guy plays. I absolutely love it when you look at his size and length. We can all think of a number of great players, Pro Bowl players, hall of fame players who had a quiet demeanor. But he certainly is someone who is passionate about playing and you can see that on film when you watch a lot of the game tape."

He had an elbow injury at the combine. Is that okay?

"It's all fine. When you look at his lower body, he will get stronger. Again, he just turned 21, I think this past month. I think all of that's ahead of him, but his health is fine."

Were there any thoughts on trading down?

"It did become part of the equation with the idea that all of a sudden if here are these two or three players if they were gone. Fortunately, we weren't in that position. In that discussion, you're prepping for it. I think two picks out we knew the defensive tackle was there that went to Cleveland, (Danny) Shelton. We knew Peat was there. We would have been very comfortable had Cleveland selected Andrus, we would have been very comfortable selecting the nose (tackle)."

Did you have Peat ranked above La'el Collins?

"Yes, from the beginning. Just the flexibility. We had a really good grade on Collins. Teams are projecting him at tackle and guard and our projection with him is as a guard. I think he's a very dominant player, physical. We just saw a different type of player in Peat."

Did you have to pick a defensive player at #31 after selecting an offensive player at #13?

"We talked about it. Because of the amount of picks we have. I think it would have been more challenging had there been a highly graded offensive player. We really got to that clump of linebackers, there were a couple other defensive players and then a receiver. It worked itself out."

Is Anthony Spencer more capable of filling role as pass rusher right away?

"Obviously he is someone we see that can rush the passer. We played against him. I would say there are a handful of good pass rushers that are still there. Hopefully we are able to get one of them tomorrow."

Did you go to Stephone Anthony's workouts?

"We had the combine, we had the pro-day. We were at all of those. He did everything. We were one of the teams at his pro-day. I don't know that there was a separate workout, but he was one of those guys that said 'Hey what else do you want me to do.' We did it in Indianapolis. There weren't any squares to be filled with regards to tests or shuttles."

Was there a deal close to being made?

"There really wasn't. There was phone activity; possibly moving up a couple, possibly getting out. There really wasn't (a deal close to being made). We had some teams calling about moving into number 31. We just kind of sat tight, maybe different than some other years. It was pretty, I don't want to say quiet, but there wasn't anything that was imminent."

Was that because of the depth of the draft?

"There's a good clump of players here. It's just how teams see them. I would say on our board there was a good clump of players here in the second. Hopefully a good group of players in the third where we have two picks."

Did anything surprise you?

"I think it kind of went pretty much as planned. I think (Leonard) Williams maybe went a pick or two later than we thought, I think (Brandon) Scherff, who we think is a great player, went a pick or two early. I think overall there wasn't anything really different. Everyone was waiting to see where Marcus (Mariota) would go in that two selection."

Do you see Peat playing guard?

"I don't see that. He's a tackle."

New Orleans Saints photos from the first day of the 2015 NFL Draft at the team's facility. Photos by Michael C. Hebert.

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