2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints enter draft needing pass rushers, LT

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-04-22 11:24

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - The New Orleans Saints learned during Sean Payton's suspension last season that their offense is still quite good, even when Payton isn't around to coach it.

For Payton, the key to getting New Orleans back to the post season is fixing a historically bad defense, which is why he's already begun to overhaul the unit with a new scheme and new coordinator - and why it won't be a surprise if the Saints look to this week's NFL draft to help that side of the ball most.

The only significant void on offense was created by the departure of starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod in free agency. Charles Brown, who has served as a reserve tackle since being taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft out of Southern California, has been groomed for that spot, but he has been injury-prone so far, causing Payton to question his reliability.

``If you ask me what keeps me up at night,'' Payton said recently, ``There would be two areas: how are we going to improve our pass rush and how are we going to be at left tackle?''

The Saints' first overall pick is slated for 15th overall. Barring a trade to change that, odds are New Orleans will be looking hard at prospects who can play outside linebacker in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme.

Based on New Orleans' 2012 statistics, the offense doesn't seem to be in such dire need of help, Bushrod's departure notwithstanding. With seasoned offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael calling plays, and with veteran Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees executing them, the Saints ranked second in the NFL in total offense last season, averaging 410.9 yards per game.

New Orleans' defense, by contrast, yielded an NFL single-season record 7,042 yards (about 440 a game) and ranked 31st in points allowed per game at 28.4.

Payton, suspended all of last season in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation, hadn't been reinstated a full week before firing 2012 defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and announcing he would be scrapping the 4-3 defensive alignment the club had used in its base defense since Payton arrived in 2006. Next came the hiring of Ryan, who has only run 3-4 defenses during his previous stints as a coordinator in Cleveland and Dallas.

Payton hopes the new scheme will help the Saints develop a better pass rush and defend better against read-option quarterbacks such as Cam Newton. And that could mean loading up on outside linebackers, who in a 3-4 often take on assignments similar to those of defensive ends in a 4-3.

As the week of the draft arrived, the Saints were slated to have only five picks, in part because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell docked the club its second-round pick as part of its bounty punishment.

That left the club with picks in the first round, third round (75th overall), fourth round (109), fifth round (144) and sixth round (183).

Among the prospects who appear to fit the Saints' needs are LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, if either remains available at pick No. 15.

Mingo, a speedy, 6-foot-5, 240-pound pass rusher from Monroe who played defensive end on LSU's 4-3 defense, said he would be pleased to have the opportunity to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 with his home-state NFL club.

``It would be special to play for those guys,'' Mingo said when he was asked about the prospect of being drafted by New Orleans. ``They're the state team. Everybody watches the Saints play, especially in my area.''

Mingo, who left LSU as a junior, was credited with 38 tackles last season, including 8 1/2 tackles for losses and 4 1/2 sacks

``I think it would be more special if I got to start my career'' in Louisiana, Mingo said. ``Everybody's close here. They can make the drive over to watch me play.''

The 6-2, 245-pound Jones, who enters the draft out of Georgia, racked up a school-record 14 1/2 sacks, 24 1/2 tackles for losses, seven forced fumbles, four passes defended and an interception. The question is whether he drops to the 15th pick, as a number of draft analysts see him being selected in the top 10.

The Saints also could use more depth at defensive tackle and defensive back. If they chose a player such as Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints could potentially ask incumbent starting strong safety Roman Harper, who has been one of their best pass rushers in recent years, to step up to outside linebacker, at least in some situations.

If the Saints decide to go with a left tackle first, Florida State's 6-5, 310-pound Menelik Watson might fit their need for a fleet-footed blocker who can force end rushers to run wide while Brees steps up in the pocket behind the club's elite guards and looks for throwing lanes.

However, the Saints have showed during the Payton era that when it comes to paying offensive linemen, they spend more on guards. So New Orleans could balk at taking a tackle in the middle of the first round, particularly when several solid pass rushers are expected to be available.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Sam BradfordJun 29 05:22p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be in the final phase of his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament once training camp begins. Bradford's second [ More ]

Charles JohnsonJun 29 02:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson appears to have everything it takes to produce in the NFL, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. 'He's got great work ethic, and [ More ]

C.J. SpillerJun 28 09:02p

New Orleans Saints RB C.J. Spiller has a perfect skill-set for head coach Sean Payton's system, which relies on getting the ball to players in space, according Chris Wesseling [ More ]

Tony MoeakiJun 25 07:12p

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Moeaki will compete with TE Jacob Tamme for the Falcons' starting tight end job during training camp. QB Matt Ryan praised both tight ends for [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJun 25 03:52p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin's reported weight gain this offseason is being overblown, according to general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman expects Benjamin to be ready to go for training [ More ]

Antoine CasonJun 25 03:03a

Free-agent CB Antoine Cason (foot) will miss the 2015 season due to surgery he underwent on Tuesday, June 23. Cason (Ravens) did not specify what type of surgery he [ More ]

Marvin JonesJun 24 09:13p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (ankle, foot) did not play in 2014 due to multiple foot and ankle issues, but he is healthy and was impressive in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.

Keith WenningJun 24 02:43p

Free-agent QB Keith Wenning (Ravens) signed with the Cincinnati Bengals Wednesday, June 24. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Pierre GarconJun 24 02:23p

Washington Redskins WR Pierre Garcon could be featured more often in the passing game this season based on the offseason workouts. Garcon often lined up to the right of [ More ]

Martavis BryantJun 24 01:43p

Pittsburgh Steelers WRs Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant are expected to compete for the No. 2 wide receiver job during training camp. Both players performed well during offseason workouts.

Peyton ManningJun 24 11:53a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the subject of preliminary trade discussions with the Houston Texans, according to a source. The talks occurred before Manning restructured his deal and [ More ]

Rueben RandleJun 24 10:53a

New York Giants WR Rueben Randle was the best receiver on the field by a wide margin during spring practices, in the opinion of beat writer Jordan Ranaan. Randle [ More ]

Chris IvoryJun 24 10:43a

New York Jets RB Chris Ivory is listed as the starting running back entering training camp, according to beat writer Rich Cimini's unofficial depth chart. RB Bilal Powell is [ More ]

Devonta FreemanJun 23 10:22a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman enters training camp ahead of RB Tevin Coleman on the depth chart.

Joseph RandleJun 23 10:02a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle appears to be the clear leader at running back, and it's his job to lose in training camp.

Ahmad BradshawJun 22 11:32p

Free-agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts) has been suspended one game for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. If he signs with a team he must sit out for the first week.

Terrelle PryorJun 22 04:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Terrelle Pryor was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns Monday, June 22, according to a source.

Fred DavisJun 19 06:02p

New England Patriots TE Fred Davis was released Friday, June 19.

Dennis PittaJun 19 02:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was not medically cleared to practice in minicamp as he continues to recover from his second dislocated and fractured hip in as many [ More ]

Isaiah CrowellJun 19 01:22p

Cleveland Browns RB Isaiah Crowell could be the workhorse back if his ball security improves, according to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

Devonta FreemanJun 19 01:12p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman will be used in a lot of different ways, including as a receiver, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'I knew Devonta had terrific [ More ]

Chris OgbonnayaJun 19 11:32a

Free-agent RB Chris Ogbonnaya (Giants) announced his retirement Friday, June 19.

John MoffittJun 18 11:02p

Free-agent OG John Moffitt unretired Wednesday, June 17, and cleared waivers Thursday, June 18. He is free to sign with a team of his choosing. The Philadelphia Eagles, Miami [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 09:32p

Free-agent QB Terrelle Pryor is going to give it a shot at playing wide receiver in the NFL. Some teams have already expressed an interest.

Allen RobinsonJun 18 09:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson was described as 'unbelievable' by QB Blake Bortles Thursday, June 18. 'He's definitely a threat now in the red zone. ... He's physical. He [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 05:32p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Terrelle Pryor was waived Thursday, June 18.

Taylor ThompsonJun 18 05:32p

Tennesse Titans TE Taylor Thompson was waived Thursday, June 18.

Matthew MulliganJun 18 04:32p

Free-agent TE Matthew Mulligan (Titans) signed an undisclosed contract with the Buffalo Bills Thursday, June 18.

Carlton MitchellJun 18 04:22p

Free-agent WR Carlton Mitchell (Buccaneers) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, June 18. WR Shane Wynn was waived.

Daniel ThomasJun 18 04:12p

Free-agent RB Daniel Thomas (Dolphins) signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears Thursday, June 18. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Pat DevlinJun 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Pat Devlin, TE Jacob Maxwell and PK Jeremiah Detmer were waived Thursday, June 18.

Dez BryantJun 18 11:42a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant arrived for the final day of minicamp Thursday, June 18.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group