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Transcript: Sean Payton video conference call - Friday, April 24

Saints coach speaks to media following the second and third rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Friday, April 24, 2020

"Relative to years past the minute that draft ends, there's an hour and a half of a lot of phone calls being made. This (the trades) is by no means the reason to do this, but we'll be in a position to clearly identify a ranking order of players that we want to sign and commit money to as (undrafted) free agents and then have the correct vision as to how they will make this roster. I just think it will bring a little bit more order on the third day with everyone in their houses."

Can you address the aggressiveness to get to both of these players on day two?
"Yeah, here's the one thing I would say is we were able to identify and fill some needs without reaching and so obviously with Cesar (Ruiz), we felt an interior lineman would be someone that could help us and that was early in the draft yesterday. Linebacker certainly was an area that we knew coming into today that we hopefully wanted to address, but without having that second round pick there's uncertainty as to whether those guys will be there and be available. We were able to move back up when we saw our guy (Zack Baun) fall some and then later in the third round when you start to look at the value of our fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh (round picks) and you do the point totals, it could appear like a lot but it was light getting into the third round. We needed to find a trade partner. Minnesota fortunately was one that at the last minute they were in and we have a clear vision for the two players we selected today. Two things happened today, we hit on a couple of need positions and we felt that where we had these guys graded, it really matched."

Is the vision for Baun at linebacker or edge?
"Linebacker, that's a great question. He had a lot of production in college as a rush end. He's a guy that we think can play at the Mike position and the Sam position. I do like his pressure traits, but we see him as someone that can play in a stack position if need be or certainly be a guy that can give us some versatility as a rusher."

Would you say you were trying to trade up prior to the deal with Cleveland and if so, for how long were you trying to trade up?
"I'll bet that probably took around an hour. There were close conversations with one team. There's no certainty. There were a few times we felt we were close to a deal and it fell off. It ended up being part of a blessing, because the compensation was something we were very comfortable with. The challenge in moving up sometimes is there's a tremendous point differential to go from the bottom of the third round to the second or the bottom of the third to the top of the third. We sweated a few picks hoping he was still there. Obviously we were not going to make a trade like that unless that player's on the board. In each case that trade comes in when the team we're trading with is on the clock because we know the player is there, but we spent a lot of time on Baun and quite a bit of time on (Adam) Trautman, but it seemed like a lot more with the first third round pick.

What do you like about Trautman as far as he fits in your offense?
"We see him as a true Y. For a small college player we feel he has really good in-line strength. He's also someone that we think has real good hips. His change of direction, you can see that in how he sets up his routes. For someone who played at a smaller level, you see a dominant player and we see him as someone that can help us as an in-line tight end, his first year build on some of the things that we feel like he can do outside. The challenges we talked about yesterday with the lack of offseason programs teams are going to have, all of these players are off the charts, smart, tough guys in other areas, great scores in a lot of different areas relative to the mental side of the game. Part of that is our identification where we are finding what we call a Saint player. Both of these picks today as well as yesterday are guys that are going to be able to learn fairly quickly."

When you go into drafts do you try to think about how many draft picks or rookies can make a roster based on what you have now as a coach, and then that dictates your approach to trading up or trying to get more picks?
"We do. We have this meeting before every draft. Here are those positions that we feel can come in and contribute and we felt coming in, linebacker was a position where we had an opportunity to compete and make a team and have a clean vision? How do they play in the kicking game? How many snaps do they receive in special teams? We felt that way about an offensive lineman and we felt that way at the tight end position. So, we'll have a great opportunity here tomorrow to pay close attention to what happens in front of us, but to identify some additional players that we think can come in and hope can find a spot on our roster. Every year we have gotten a few players that have done well after the draft. To answer your question yes, each year we have that meeting with all of the scouts and coaches. I approach the question, here are the positions I would like to play if I was drafted by the Saints. I'd like to be an interior offensive lineman, a linebacker, I'd like to be the tight end. I'd like to maybe be an extra corner."

Where did you think you would have had to go to have the chance to pick Zack Baun?
"We saw someone that we felt was going to be drafted in the top 20 picks of the second round. We felt like this was a player that would be hard for us to get because we didn't have a second round pick. Each team looks at things differently, but our vision for the player was really clear. The morning started when we got on our first conference call discussing how can we make this happen. That discussion begins with a second round pick and it was obviously way too rich to go from the bottom of the third to the front of the second round. We were unable to do that. Fortunately, he came within range and we were able to make a trade."

Where is Trautman as a blocker and as a receiver?
"We felt he was one of the better blocking tight ends in this draft. I'd say especially for a player that played at a small school, we had a clear vision for an in-line wide. I think he will be able to carry the weight and gain some weight. But we also felt this player was loose in the hips and was pretty good in his change of direction. I think after the season ended he had a good spring. The impressions after the season were very good with him. He was another one I clearly wouldn't have seen him available at the end of the third round. That's how it works."

Is your philosophy of not being afraid to go up supreme belief in your scouting?
"There's a couple different things in place. We feel like we have a playoff-experienced team. If you went back to 2006, we took all of those picks that we had, we had two sevens, we also acquired players in the second round, acquired Roman Harper and back down and acquired Jeff Faine. In the fourth round we backed down and drafted Jahri Evans and also acquired Hollis Thomas. There were a lot more positions open for our team, using 2006 as an example, that realistically (isn't the case) in 2020. Mickey (Loomis) and I both share that belief that if there's a shared vision for someone we aren't afraid to target that player and within reason go get him."

Reading your body language is it safe to say you are pretty happy?
"Yes, I thought the process went smooth. Our staff did a great job. There was quite a bit of time spent on the telephone with different teams, you have to be patient. I can't think of how many calls were made that were made. You think you have a deal with a team and at the last minute they got a better deal. There's nothing for sure until you agree to it, but yes, I think we helped ourselves. I know our scouting staff and coaching staff are excited, Mickey and Jeff (Ireland). These were players that were definite Saints prototype target players, all of them that fit what we're about."

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