2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints draft LBs Fortt, Powell and S Sunseri

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2014-05-10 16:02

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - The New Orleans Saints targeted defensive prospects with their first three picks of the final day of the NFL draft, starting with California outside linebacker Khairi Fortt in the fourth round.

In the fifth round, the Saints added a pair of standouts from the Southeastern Conference: Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri and Florida outside linebacker Ronald Powell.

New Orleans then added an offensive lineman in the sixth round, picking 6-foot-5, 280-pound Kansas State tackle Tavon Rooks.

The 6-2, 248-pound Fortt started all nine games in which he played as a fourth-year junior for Cal last season, lining up at weak-side linebacker. Despite missing three games with a biceps injury, he was a national semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker, after recording 64 tackles, including 3 1/2 tackles for losses.

Although Cal's base defense was a 4-3, Fortt said the scheme had enough variability that he often played roles similar to a weak-side outside linebacker in a 3-4, as he'd be expected to do under Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Fortt noted that during his pre-draft interview with Ryan, most questions dealt not with his personal background, but his knowledge of schemes and positional responsibilities.

''I feel like I'll be good at playing in a 3-4 defense and I'll learn quickly, and there's not much of a change,'' Fortt said.

At the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, he tied for the top score among linebackers in the bench press with 30 repetitions of 225 pounds. His 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds tied for 11th at his position.

Those results and the way he played last season indicated he'd overcome knee problems which began with a dislocated knee cap in ninth grade and lingered until he had surgery in 2012, when he sat out the season.

''I don't feel like I was really injury prone,'' Fortt said. ''Doctors thought (his kneecap) was a little loose, so they tightened it down ... and now I'm fine.''

Fortt began his college career at Penn State, transferring after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

''Life doesn't go as planned,'' Fortt said. ''I picked Penn State. Obviously it didn't work out for me like I wanted it to, so I had to pick a different option. I don't regret it. I thought it was a learning tool.''

The 6-foot, 210-pound Sunseri had more recent surgery, missing Alabama's last six games last season after tearing a knee ligament. But he participated in Alabama's Pro Day last month and said he's been cleared for rookie camp. He arrives in the same offseason that the Saints released another former Alabama strong safety, Roman Harper.

Sunseri joked that he expects to ''catch a little bit of grief'' from Louisiana football fans who are partial to LSU, but added, ''hopefully I can win them over whenever I hit a couple people.''

Sunseri, whose father, Sal, is Tennessee's defensive coordinator, left school a year early, despite projections that he'd be picked no higher than the fourth round.

''I just feel like I'm ready,'' Sunseri said. ''It's not about the money for me. ... It's about the love of the game and fulfilling a dream. And my dream is to play in a professional organization and you know what? The Saints are the perfect one.''

Powell, who is 6-3, 237, was heavily scouted out of high school, but his career at Florida was marred by reconstructive knee surgery he had to have twice because of a setback during his rehabilitation.

Last season, he played in 12 games at both strong-side outside linebacker and defensive end. He was credited with four sacks and eight QB hurries. He said he still has a lot to prove after not being drafted until the end of the fifth round, and suspects that the Saints will offer him an environment and scheme in which he can finally fulfill his potential.

''I feel like I'm going to be a great fit for them,'' Powell said. ''I like the tenacity they (have). I'm a passionate guy when it comes to this game and I like the sort of defensive mindset that they have in New Orleans.''

Earlier in the draft, the Saints took Oregon receiver Brandin Cooks after trading their 27th overall pick and third-round pick to Arizona for the Cardinals' 20th overall choice. New Orleans took Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round.

---

Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Wes WelkerAug 25 04:13p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) could play in the team's regular season opener Sunday, September 7, if he does not have any concussion symptoms by Monday, September 1. [ More ]

Chase BlackburnAug 25 01:33p

Carolina Panthers OG Trai Turner (groin) and DEs Greg Hardy (shoulder) and Charles Johnson (hamstring) sat out of practice Sunday, Aug. 24. SS Roman Harper (toe), who missed the [ More ]

LeSean McCoyAug 24 11:53p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (thumb, toe) said he will be fine for Week 1 after suffering a thumb injury in the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 21. McCoy [ More ]

Chase BlackburnAug 24 11:42p

Carolina Panthers LB Chase Blackburn (back) and SS Roman Harper (toe) returned to practice Sunday, Aug. 24.

Tarell BrownAug 24 11:22p

Oakland Raiders DL Justin Ellis (concussion) returned to practice Sunday, Aug. 24, after missing a couple of weeks with a concussion, and CB Tarell Brown (concussion) practiced after leaving [ More ]

Wes WelkerAug 24 11:22p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) has a good chance to play in Week 1, according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post. Welker suffered a concussion in the [ More ]

Charles MitchellAug 24 10:32p

The Denver Broncos waived RB Brennan Clay, RB Jerodis Williams, WR Greg Hardin, WR Greg Wilson, QB Bryn Renner, LB Jerrell Harris, CB Charles Mitchell and DL Will Pericak [ More ]

Tahir WhiteheadAug 24 10:30p

Detroit Lions LB Tahir Whitehead had 10 tackles and three sacks during his team's exhibition game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 'He was really playing at a level of one [ More ]

Zac StacyAug 24 10:28p

St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford (knee) is out for the season after an MRI revealed a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. Zac Stacy will be relied upon even [ More ]

Richard RodgersAug 24 10:19p

Green Bay Packers TE Richard Rodgers may be the starting tight end for Week 1 of the regular season. An injury to TE Brandon Bostick, combined with strong play [ More ]

Josh BoyceAug 24 10:06p

New England Patriots WR Josh Boyce did not play an offensive snap until there was 1:26 remaining in the third quarter of the preseason game Friday, Aug. 22, against [ More ]

Johnny ManzielAug 24 09:47p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel could play with QB Brian Hoyer in a two-quarterback system later in the season, according to head coach Mike Pettine. Pettine said a package [ More ]

Winston JusticeAug 24 09:42p

The Denver Broncos released OT Winston Justice and LB Jamar Chaney Sunday, Aug. 24.

D.J. HaydenAug 24 09:12p

Oakland Raiders CB D.J. Hayden (foot) had a good day of work with team trainers, Sunday, Aug. 24, and could return to practice this week, according to head coach Dennis Allen.

Terrell ThomasAug 24 09:02p

The Seattle Seahawks released CB Terrell Thomas Sunday, Aug. 24, a league source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Tyrell JohnsonAug 24 08:22p

The Atlanta Falcons released SS Tyrell Johnson Sunday, Aug. 24.

Jordan SennAug 24 07:22p

The Chicago Bears released LB Jordan Senn.

Jordan PalmerAug 24 06:52p

The Chicago Bears released QB Jordan Palmer. QB Jimmy Clausen has won the backup quarterback spot.

Shaun HillAug 24 06:42p

St. Louis Rams QB Shaun Hill will take over as the starting quarterback for the team, according to head coach Jeff Fisher.

Ropati PitoituaAug 24 06:32p

Tennessee Titans DE Ropati Pitoitua (hand) suffered a broken left hand in the third preseason game. He's expected to be ready for the season opener.

Will SmithAug 24 06:03p

The New England Patriots released DT Tommy Kelly, DE Will Smith and LB James Anderson.

Aldrick RobinsonAug 24 05:43p

The Washington Redskins released LB Robert Jackson, FB Stephen Campbell, WR Cody Hoffman, LB Jeremy Kimbrough, WR Rashad Lawrence, DE Jake McDonough, DE Jeremy Towns, WR Aldrick Robinson and FS Ross Madison.

Aaron RodgersAug 24 05:22p

Green Bay Packers C JC Tretter (knee) will miss up to six weeks with a left knee injury. The loss of Aaron Rodgers' starting center could hinder his [ More ]

Drew DavisAug 24 05:12p

Atlanta Falcons LB Marquis Spruill (knee) was placed on Injured Reserve. WR Drew Davis (foot) and SS Zeke Motta (neck) were placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Cam NewtonAug 24 05:02p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (rib) has a hairline fracture in one of his ribs and will not play in the final preseason game next week. Head coach Ron [ More ]

Sam BradfordAug 24 03:59p

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the 2014 season after an MRI disclosed he tore the ACL in his left knee in Saturday night's preseason game [ More ]

Alan BranchAug 24 03:22p

The Buffalo Bills have released DL Alan Branch.

Marvin McNuttAug 24 02:52p

The Carolina Panthers have released P Jordan Gay, DL Linden Gaydosh, DL Alex Hall, OL Oscar Johnson, LB Anthony Morales, WR Marvin McNutt, WR Kealoha Pilares and DL Craig Roh.

Chris HarperAug 24 02:22p

The Green Bay Packers have released S Charles X. Clay, CB Antonio Dennard, WR Chris Harper, LB Korey Jones, FB Ina Liaina, QB Chase Rettig and WR Gerrard Sheppard.

Toney ClemonsAug 24 02:12p

The Carolina Panthers have released WR Toney Clemons.

Phil LoadholtAug 24 02:02p

An MRI exam for Minnesota Vikings OT Phil Loadholt (ankle) revealed that he has an ankle contusion, as opposed to a sprain, according to a source.

Trumaine JohnsonAug 24 01:02p

St. Louis Rams CB Trumaine Johnson (knee) likely will be sidelined for six weeks after an MRI revealed he has a strained medial collateral ligament.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group