New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Friday, May 9, 2014
How soon did you like Stanley Jean-Baptiste? He was a name that we had heard a lot of close to the draft.
"Throughout the process, certainly, you get the measurable, you receive all of that (information) prior to the combine. You go through the interview process, you have a chance to get familiar with the player. He's a fifth-year senior and a guy who initially played receiver at Nebraska and they moved over to corner. He has very good ball skills. I think coming in, corner was an area that we wanted to address. One of the challenges is that typically they go pretty quickly. It was just kind of hanging in there. We had a couple of other players along with him that we were looking at. When you start looking at our division, you start looking at the receivers that we line up against. That size and length, I think, really is necessary with Tampa Bay's receivers now, (and) Atlanta's. Those are all guys with real good size. Carolina, of course, yesterday drafted a big receiver. You kind of go into it with, 'What does he do well?' We think he's a guy that can play press-man. His ball skills are also something that we also put a value on."
You pointed to the need at corner. Was he the highest cornerback on your board or the highest rated overall?
"He was our highest-rated prospect. There was a gap with grades when it comes to corner after the handful of first round prospects. I'm sure those grades throughout the league were mixed. Then it gets a little bit more challenging. Stan was someone that was separate from the guys on our board. It ended up being a good fit for us."
It seems like you are building a defense in the model of Seattle. How much seeing them and playing them made you want to mold your secondary into something like they have?
"They have a fantastic secondary, and we've had a chance to see it first-hand. I think it was trying to fit what we're doing. A year and a half ago, starting before last year's draft, we've made an effort to really put a high value on size, and we've been able to do that defensively."
Do you see this trend of needing big cornerbacks to cover big receivers being sort of the direction the league is going?
"It's nothing new. You go back to the guys that first started playing bump-and-run, we saw one (duo) tonight in Willie Brown and Kent McCloughan, back in the '60s with Oakland. There have been a lot of great corners in our league that have had size, the same way at receiver. Certainly things trend. It doesn't get away from a corner who doesn't have that same height. Typically if they're shorter, you hope they have a rare skill set in regards to quickness and agility. But with the receivers we see and with the amount of bump-and-run coverage that we want to play, I think a longer corner helps in that regard. But I would also say the ball skills are something that are important because I know, offensively, if we feel like we're playing someone who doesn't those ball skills, there's really not a negative to throw in that direction: it's complete, it's incomplete, or it's pass interference. It's when there's a corner that can turn around and catch a football that really makes you target and locate your passes. It makes you very leery of just indiscriminately throwing it out there. He's someone who has those."
You have Keenan Lewis on one side, and on the other side it seems like you have five or six guys that can compete for the second cornerback spot.
"We take pretty much the same number of corners to camp every year. Some of the players have been here. Some of them like Champ (Bailey) are new to our program and a rookie like Stan, the same way. It's pretty normal for our league. When we go into training camp, we're going to make sure that we have the correct depth at each position. The depth chart up there has blank magnets under it that we need to fill either in the draft or tomorrow night after the draft and get to your 90 number. Give or take a player: you might go with one extra safety, one less corner, and the same thing on offense. Veteran players, young players…that competition is pretty much what our league is all about."
When he visited the facility before the draft, was there anything about him in particular that stood out to you?
"He's someone you spend a lot of time with in kind of getting his path. He's someone who went through junior college then on to Nebraska, from receiver moved over to cornerback. You can see some of the ball skills in his drills, then you get to the game tape. I mentioned earlier that we think he's a little bit better in tight coverage or bump-and-run coverage. The key for us is making sure that we put our players in the best position. I know Rob (Ryan) and his staff will look closely at what these guys do well. His skill set as a young player and what we've seen is something that you get excited about, especially at that position because I mentioned last night there are certain positions, the pass rushers, the left tackles, the cornerbacks. Those (positions) are harder to find and they typically go pretty quick in the draft, especially the first day and a half or two days."
He didn't run at the combine, did he? Are you satisfied with his speed?
"Well, we better be. Yes. When you a lot of times take and compare speed, agility, and quickness there's a give and take. As the height goes up, you're not going to always find that you have the same three cone score or the same 40 time, but you want to make sure he's fast enough…and we think he is."
Have you seen anything in this guy where he can give you meaningful reps on special teams?
"You project, I wouldn't say as a returner. We feel like he's a very willing tackler. He's physical so we would project and hope that he's a guy that could play gunner. So absolutely."
There was a lot of movement in the second round. Were you ever tempted to move up or did you feel like you just want to hang onto your picks?
"We discussed it a couple times during that round and there was a lot (of trade talk). Typically I sensed that today teams had targeted a player overnight. They knew going into the day that 'Hey, if this player is there we're going to make an attempt to go get them.' So whether or not that was a pass rusher, running back, or lineman, we saw a lot more activity in the second round then we saw yesterday. In the end, just keeping track of our cloud and how the picks were unfolding, it was in our best interest to stay. We also had an exit strategy just in case the team or two ahead of us had taken him (Jean-Baptiste). We probably would have moved back a little bit and then looked to make a selection."
Do you think you have enough ammo to get back into the third round if you want to?
"Yeah, I think you always do. It would be helpful if I got up there, but yeah it would be to target a player."
The first running back didn't come off until pick number fifty four. Is this kind of going to be the trend in the NFL, or is it just the quality of running backs this year?
"We really liked the LSU runner (Jeremy Hill) and he was right there. He was someone we discussed and talked about. He was a very productive player and so was (Carlos) Hyde at Ohio State. I think it's just a fit. It's a matter of what teams are looking for. Look, there will be another Adrian Peterson. There will be another really good player that will hard to pass up on. So I think it's just a matter of team's needs and how they view or grade a player, but I don't know if it will be a continuing trend. I think there is a feeling that you can find good running backs later in the draft or possibly in free agency, but that doesn't discount the notion of someone being a really unique and rare skill set of being taken still in the first round. I think that really is just how this class was graded."
You took a twenty year old guy (Brandin Cooks) with three years of experience last night, and this guy (Stanley Jean-Baptiste) has five years. What are the variables that you look for in a guy that's been around a couple more years?
"His (Jean-Baptiste) path is much different. He's mature, he's someone that's soft-spoken, he's someone that is very confident, and yet I'm encouraged with the time in his position and where he is in his football game. He is someone that will still have a lot of growth and we feel like a guy with a higher ceiling that needs development time at the position. He's someone that you can start with and build with length and build with ball skills and some of those things."
Can he play inside and outside for you?
"I would project him initially to start at one spot. Especially a guy going into his third year at the position."
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton's NFL Draft Day 2 press conference. Photos by Alex Restrepo (New Orleans Saints photos)