New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonMedia AvailabilityFriday, April 29, 2016
"Just with the two selections both of the players we are real familiar with, guys that obviously went to the same school and fit areas that we identified prior to the process."
Was it hard to trade up and give up that extra pick?
"Not really, earlier in that round to move into that (second) round obviously required you trading a three. The cost of it was a four and a five early on and the kicker (Roberto Aguayo) went just prior to us for (the) same value, actually on the value sheet it was even to plus. We felt there was a dropoff at that position and we also kind of saw value in the player and where we had him graded. It wasn't that difficult."
What do you like about Michael Thomas?
"He's big, competitive, I love his hands in traffic and I think he has a very unique skillset. He has real strong hands and has some good runs after the catch. You watch him workout and you watch him compete and you see game film after game film and at times it's hard based on what they (Ohio State) do offensively, but I love his size and his competitive nature and his makeup is outstanding."
How do you scout when the offense limits a player?
"You have to really dig on tape. Really spend time on finding his touches and attempts. He was someone that when the process was over with we had at the receiver position real high on that list. We love his skillset."
How do you see (Vonn) Bell being used in a three-safety look?
"I do not think the process was (that) we need to find a safety to get into our three-safety packages. That will work itself out. He is just a great player. Recognizing when you go back and you are discussing him what is the vision? Well he is someone that can run and (play) "over the slot quite a bit. Our vision would be the same in that we think he can be on the field covering down over a slot. We think probably the first position would be free over strong safety and then we just let it unfold from there and see how he does."
Did you identify that early in this offseason before Rafael (Bush) went to Detroit?
"I think we felt there was a good chance that we might lose Rafael (Bush) and obviously when we did you pay attention to that positon, but it didn't put us in a position where we felt like we have to get that positon in this draft. We felt like it became a need position and the grade matched the selection then so be it. We had a long discussion at the second pick in regards to which one and both of those players (graded out well). We had a tick higher grade on the receiver and then it was trying to get back in and select the player that was graded highest."
So you liked both those guys at 47?
Do Vonn Bell and Vernon Hargreaves play the same positon?
"No, there is a different skillset and in fairness to both players. I think one you use as a corner that can play inside and outside, the other you see as a safety that can cover down and play over a slot receiver. I think it is a little different."
Do you have a concern at this point for the guard position?
"Yes sure, we still have a lot of work to do, but most important is paying attention to where these grades are falling. We felt specifically with the offensive line that there was going to be that early first round, end of the first, early second round run and in all likelihood when we picked in that spot at the second round that the first wave of players would be gone and that next clump of players we saw the grades (on) were going to be a little bit further back and sure enough last night the last pick the player taken was an offensive lineman. Those guys just go a little quicker and you know that going in."
How important is it to have a willing trade partner?
"It's not a lot of dialogue it's just simple and the charts matched and sometimes you receive a call and you are looking at the value chart and it does not even add up. (They're) fairly quick (decisions). When they (Patriots) had two picks there it just made sense to call and see if they had both players and if they didn't then all of a sudden it was a possibility and an opportunity."
You guys made that concerted effort last year to get nine draft picks, and you said you were really happy with what that draft class did. Do you feel like you built enough of a base to where it's okay if this is just a five-player class?
"We looked at it just with a grade and a value. I wouldn't have said to start today that our thoughts were moving back into that round. It is just a matter of seeing a player that you see value in much earlier than that."
Is that the Jimmy Johnson (value) chart that teams still use or are there different value charts?
"There are a couple of them. There's been some change, and yet either one you are on, the other team right away recognizes the one you are working with. It is pretty basic. It is not exact. You can go back and there are years where someone might have moved up more for less. Taking your (third round pick) into (a second round pick) costs a (fourth round pick). That is pretty normal. I think a few picks prior there were teams receiving a couple (fourth round picks) for a move like that. Just as it moves back in the draft, it changes. That part of it was easy."
How do you view (Michael) Thomas' skillset in context with what Brandon Coleman was showing you?
"They're similar type players that way. They're large and will compete. They're big players with strong hands. It's in no way a reflection on how we feel about Brandon. It was just a graded player that we just saw who had a skill set that we felt real strong about. Again, I would tell you that with that player we had him graded really high in that position group."
Will Drew Brees be in a situation where he would be happy to have both of those guys, as well as Coby Fleener in red zone situations?
"Yes, absolutely. You know, size and targets, yes."
Vonn Bell was mentioning that he had contact with you and you wanted to see a tape; are there dozens of players you'll talk to in this process?
"Yes, some more than others. He was one I spoke to a handful of times. There were a couple of shuttles and a jump that was missing that we did not have times on. I just called him up and said that there are three things I need to see here that we receive from everyone. I told him what they were and I said that I need to see those before we're going to draft you. Sure enough, it was about a few days later, all of a sudden on a text I receive all of these videos that started coming in. That was important to me, not as much for what the times were, but the idea of just completing something that everyone else completes in the evaluation process. We called him up a handful of times. Urban (Meyer) is a guy that I have a good relationship with and he and I have been friends for a long time. This is a guy that is competitive with really good instincts and really good ball skills. I'm glad we got him."
Is that one of those hidden tests? He talked about it as if he passed some sort of test for coming through for you.
"I said to him when we drafted him 'had you not sent me back those videos, you'd still be sitting home eating nachos right now'. He was excited. Obviously, there are a lot of good football players this year coming out of Ohio State. I think there was some type of record set in the first couple of rounds. Those guys have won a lot of football games there."
You mentioned your relationship with (Ohio State head coach) Urban Meyer and yesterday you referenced your relationship with (Louisville defensive coordinator) Todd Grantham. Last year, you talked about your relationship with (Stanford head coach) David Shaw. How much do you weigh on personal relationships when figuring out measurable and things like that?
"I think it matters some. David (Shaw) and I worked together for a period of time at the (Philadelphia) Eagles. Urban (Meyer) and I came up out of the Midwest at the same time. He was at Colorado State as an assistant and I was at San Diego State recruiting the same areas and over the years (we) have just always kind of stayed in touch. Todd (Grantham) is someone I probably knew a little later in my career. I think it varies but I think that is just another part of the process, additional information that is helpful. It is how Zach (Strief) got drafted really. Randy Walker, a guy that I worked for back in college at Miami University in Ohio was someone where it was rare to get a compliment or a strong endorsement from. I think that is part of the evaluation process. Not the only part but they can help when you are trying to decide from two different players. You have less and less of them as you get older at the college level. Early on, there a lot of peers that you worked with while you were in college. The longer you are at this level, a lot of your contacts are at the NFL level or may not be coaching anymore. It is good to see some of those guys doing well."
Have you heard from James Laurinaitis after selecting these Ohio State players?
"No, I understand his twitter blew up a little bit. I was looking for Kevin Faulk's twitter actually. I saw his selection."