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Spell New Orleans Saints Draft 2012, Y-U-C-K
Written by  // Sunday, 29 April 2012 17:25 //

YUCK1 The Saints' draft failed to impress graders. Most gave the Saints a D grade.

Bleacherreport.com came up with the 2012 drafts and the individual selections.

Here's how they graded the Saints' draft: Round 3,  DT Akien Hicks isn't a great pick because he's a big reach. Hicks is a good player, but he's a sixth-round value. Grade: D.

Round 4, Nat Toon can compete for a role in their offense and can replace Robert Meachem, who went to the Chargers.  Grade: A.

 

Round 5, CB'S Corey White. This isn't a great value here, but White should be able to come in and compete for playing time in the nickle. Grade C.

Round 6, OG Andrew Tiller. After losing Carl Nicks and signing Grubbs, a starting guard isn't needed, but Tiller can back up both spots. Grade: C.

Round 7, OT Marcel Jones is a good depth pick for a swing tackle. Grade A.

Bleacherreport.com graded the draft as a loser. "The Saints only had five picks, and in the middle of the bounty scandal and are likely to lose some hefty players through suspensions, the should have made some defensive additions. That should have been a priority.

"However, the Saints were able to only add two defensive players with one coming from Canada. The Saints did they best they could with limited resources, but they are one of the biggest losers in the 2012 draft."

Here's how Si.com judged the Saints' draft; "It's hard to do much without a 1 and 2 pick, and the Saints didn't do much. The keys will be DT Akien Hicks transformation from Canadian college ball to the NFL and Toon's ability to stay healthy. No one after is a sure-bet to make the roster. Grade D+."

Here's Rotoworld's take of the Saints' draft: "The grade for the Saints' draft is going to be low. Hicks and White are interesting small-school prospects. Toon's game game tape is far less impressive than his name suggests. Tiller and Jones are bottom-barrel backups.

"Hicks does have a shot to be an impact player, but until he becomes one, there is no saving this draft grade: D."

The player with the biggest free fall in the draft was LSU WR  Rueben Randle. He was projected as a first-round selection, but fell to the last pick in the second round. He was invited to attend the draft and sit in the green room. Only first-round selections are invited.

The Giants  picked him had him rated much higher than the ninth receiver picked. He can blame LSU's quarterback situation for his lack of first-round stats.

Obviously, not everyone shares the opinion that the Saints draft is a Yuck or Bust, but instead feels optimistic about the pickings, even if they have been plucked due to bounty problems.

Here's the Saints coaches views after the draft.  Also, below are Q and A with the draftees: 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

 

Vitt Opening Statement: We would like to say that Sean (Payton) would have been so proud about how our scouts worked this weekend. They’ve been working hard here for the last month. The draft was extremely organized. There was really a great consensus on the players that we took. We took these players (and) they fit into the mode we want: their character, integrity, passion for the game and work habits. Mickey has always done a good job, but we’re proud of our scouts. That being said, we’ve talked about our first two picks. Corey White from Samford, a small school, we really liked. Kenny Flajole kind of got on this guy early. There was a consensus with the scouts and Spags. He’s a little bigger corner. We think he could have the opportunity to play some nickel. He did earlier in his career, but we’re excited about him. Tiller from Syracuse, we had a little bit of inside information. You guys all know Doug Marrone. He’s the head coach up at Syracuse now. He likes this prospect. He knows what we want here and feels that would be a fit for us. That’s the consensus among the coaches and the scouts and then with Marcel Jones from Nebraska. At this point in the draft, we took some height, weight, speed, a guy that had some intangibles we think can lend to our football team.”

Spagnuolo Q: Are you looking to play White at corner initially rather than safety?

A: “Yes, he has some length. We’re going to be a press team. He had shown he can do that pretty good.”

Spagnuolo, Vitt, McMahon Q: Do you like his vertical ability?

Spagnuolo A: “Yes, he showed that. He’s one of those guys that showed up a little bit at an all-star game…small-school player, but a guy that shows up. All the feedback we received from the coaches and the information was positive.”

Vitt: “I think one of the things that were impressive about him is that when he played against a big-time opponent he played really well.”

McMahon: “He jumped out in the Auburn game. We saw him on certainly defense and special teams. He’s a guy that when you come from a small school, you want to see him against good competition. He played well.”

Vitt Q: Over the past two days you have talked about how the guys you have drafted have been at the top of your board in these draft locations. At the same time, do you think that you have satisfied any of your needs?

Vitt A: “That’s a good question. We think we’re a pretty good football team and so it kind of gets to the point now where you don’t have to reach for a need. We’ve done a great job in the offseason with unrestricted free agency, so now, we had a pool of about 18 players that we thought would potentially be there in the third and fourth round and they were there and again, we didn’t reach on anybody. We let the board come to us and maintained the discipline of the draft.”

Vitt Q: Was that unusual?

Vitt A: “I thought it was smooth. I really did. There have been some hectic drafts that I’ve been a part of and we’ve all been a part of. This was well-organized. Mickey (Loomis) did a great job. Again, Sean (Payton) would have been so proud of our scouts. They did a great job. The coaches really did a great job in their evaluations. We feel good about it. We can’t wait to get them in two weeks. We’re having our minicamp and we’ll start to coach them up then.”

Vitt Q: How tough is it to find gems in later rounds, even though this organization has historically been able to do so the last six years?

Vitt A: “I think it’s how you look at it. In my hard and my mind right now, these guys are all Pro Bowl players until they prove us different. We think they have all the redeeming qualities necessary to make our football team and compete in the league. But we’ve had a lot of low round draft picks and (undrafted) free agents make this team. We’ve had a lot of players from small schools make this team. You make a team a lot of different ways in a lot of different phases with different backgrounds. Their intangibles, their character, football character, their tenacity and love for the game and resiliency (will help them).”

 

Carmichael Q: Everybody will want to make comparisons of Andrew Tiller and Marcel Jones to the drafting of players like Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks and Zach Strief in middle to low rounds. Is that fair right now?

Carmichael A: “We’re excited about these two guys. We feel like there’s a chance for these guys to come in and contribute in some form and whether it’s a year or two down the road…To compare them, I don’t know if that’s fair right now, but we’re excited about (having) them.”

 

Vitt and McMahon Q: When you look at the draft picks from rounds three to seven, where does special teams come into play as you have said this is a hard football team to make. Where does special teams go into the equation?

Vitt A: “Every reading that we have on defense and three quarters of the readings we have on offense will have a special teams category in there. Mac, how many guys  do you grade in there?”

McMahon A: “We do quite a few. Every linebacker, every defensive player we do.”

Vitt A: “When we look at a player we want to see how they’re going to contribute, how many snaps can we project per game. That all goes into it.”

 

Vitt Q: It’s been said that you should often take an offensive lineman late in the draft due to the maturation process.  What goes into the maturation process of a rookie offensive lineman?

Vitt A: “When you get late in the draft, I think there are two positions.  I think offensive line is one.  You’ve got to have the size, you’ve got to have to have the mass and you’ve got to have the footwork and hand placement to be able to compete in this league.  When you get a guy who has those qualities that you covet, you take a chance on him.  At cornerback, a guy may not have played very well in the beginning of his career and maybe didn’t have a good senior year, but he has the speed, the recover ability, the hips and the fluidness to break on the ball.  I think those are the two positions you take a chance on late in the draft.  If you go back with the history of our draft, that’s what Al Davis used to make a living on was the late-round picks.  Gil Brandt with the Dallas Cowboys when there were 15 or 16 rounds in a draft (is another example).  Those guys made a living at that stuff.  To a degree we still do it.”

 

Vitt Q: Do you all find yourselves being more cohesive as an entity until Sean Payton gets back in regards to coaching instead of just one figurehead?

Vitt A: “This is Sean’s (Payton) football team.  Sean brought us all together and we’re going to work hard to make him proud.  We don’t want to let him down.  We’re going to work as hard as we can not to let our players down.  We’re going to work together and be responsible so we don’t let Mr. Benson down.  We have a close, cohesive staff.  We’ve always had that and our players see that.  You can’t fool players.  I’m not going to say that this is going to be easy.  This is going to be a challenge.  I’ve said this in the press conference the other day, we built a football team to coincide with the resiliency of this city when we first got down here.  We’re tough enough to whether this storm.  We have the right people and the right coaches and we’re looking forward to it.”

 

Vitt Q: Without a first or second round pick in this year’s draft, was there less pressure on you all with the draft selections in the later rounds?

Vitt A: “I can tell you this, when we lose our first game we’re not going to look at each other and say, ‘Well at least we didn’t have a second round pick.  That’s the excuse for losing.’ We’re going to coach the guys we have here.  We’re going to coach them as hard as we can.  We all know that our responsibility is to get our players better and then collectively get our team better.  We talked about this as a staff, the glass is half full.  Mark Ingram and Greg Romeus were our first two picks this year and then we went to the third round and got (Akiem) Hicks.  We’ve got good football players.  We’re excited about our draft and we’re excited about the prospects.”

 

Vitt Q: Why will Akiem Hicks be different from Al Woods?

Vitt A: “I think this guy (Akiem Hicks) has a quicker twitch, he has better feet and he uses his better.  Off the top of my head, that’s what I’ve seen in the evaluation.”

 

Spagnuolo Q: Some people had Corey White in the 600’s for available prospects.  What went into evaluating him so high?

Spagnuolo A: “Joe (Vitt) hit it when he said we put a premium on corners in the package we’re going to run on arm length, height and his press ability.  He showed that he was able to do that in this system.  We have corners that have done that a lot.  I think he’ll fit in that way.  He played at a small school so you’ll get dinged for that a little bit and I don’t know if that’s always fair.  That’s what our scouts dug up, a good name, a good prospect, we all looked at him and thought he was a pretty good football player.”

 

Vitt Q: Do you feel like you’re finished filling in with free agency?

Vitt A: “No, we’re never done.  We’re going to look at the board every day.  Mickey (Loomis) and Ryan Pace are going to always look to upgrade our football team.  It’s funny, the draft just happened and now there’s going to be a second wave of cuts around the league.  We’re going to evaluate that and see how we can upgrade our football team.  That’s an ongoing process.”

 

Vitt Q: Are you beginning the undrafted rookie free agency signing period now?

Vitt A: “We’re going right now.”

 

Vitt Q: Is there a number of incoming rookie free agents you’re trying to hit?

Vitt A: “There is, but I’m not sure exactly what it is.  I think it’s 18 to fill out the roster to get to 90 (players).”

 

Vitt Q: Do you think the NFC is going to be stronger this year?

Vitt A: “I think the conference is going to be better this year.  I think our division is going to be better this year just with the players that came in last year coming into their second year.  I think Cam Newton is going to be better, I think Julio Jones is going to be better and we’ve got to work hard to get better.  You can’t speculate on the draft picks coming in this year.  I know this; we’re going to love every one of these guys coming in here.  We learned a long time ago as coaches that you have to love the one you’re with.  I’ve been married 31 years and I wasn’t my wife’s first choice, I can promise you that.  That’s what we’re going to do.”

 

 

 

 

 

SOME hither, others yon: Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard believes that Roger Goodell cares more about cash that safety. Writes Le Batard: "The Saints bounty story has been so different, prepared and packaged for our consumption by the NFL. That's unusual, and not only because every ex-jock on TV is telling you that everybody in the NFL workplace did the kinds of things the scapegoat Saints are being sacrificed for today. Goodell clearly wants this in the news. He wants people to be shocked and outraged and clucking. And, yes, safety is the primary concern...,.if by that you mean keeping the league safe from lawsuits. This is all a shield for the shield, you might say."...

 

 

 

Andrew Tiller--Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Saturday, April 28, 2012

 

What did Doug Marrone tell you about the Saints?

 

“He just told me it’s a great place to work at and he loved the guys that worked there and I am going to love them too.”

 

You played tackle right?

 

“I play guard, but yes I have played tackle. In high school I played defense and offense.”

 

How did playing offense and defense help you?

 

“I felt like it helped me a lot because playing defense you have to have attitude and I brought that intensity to the O-line.”

 

What height and weight did you play at this year?

 

“I was 6’5”, 328 lbs.”

 

What was it like to play for Doug Marrone?

 

“It was a great experience.  He is an O-line guy.  He knows everything, he knows what he is talking about especially when it comes to the O-line. He helped me out tremendously. And no, I haven’t talked to him yet.”

 

What did the Saints tell you? Do you want you to play guard?

 

“I will play wherever they want me to play.  They didn’t really tell me too much, just about the rookie Mini-camp in two weeks, but other than that I will play wherever. The last few years I played right guard.”

 

How has your weight been over the years at Syracuse?

 

“When I first got up to Syracuse I weighed 408 lbs but that was because I had a season ending injury back in 2008, so I didn’t play that whole year.  I put on a lot of weight over that time, but once I got to Syracuse I took off 70 lbs in a matter of three or four months. My weight hasn’t been an issue since.”

 

It seems like you like to eat, this isn’t the best place for someone who likes to eat.

 

“Yeah, I heard the food down there is really good.”

 

How did you do on the bench press at the combine and pro day?

 

“I didn’t do too well on the bench press.  I only benched 16 times at the combine and 17 times at the pro day.”

 

Do you take pride in your run blocking and do you think that is what attracted the Saints to you?

 

“Yes I do. I love to run block. I just love to get after it.  I am a good pass blocker but I love to run the ball.  That’s just my thing right there. Run blocking skills, pass blocking skills, and just me as an overall person.  No off the field issues besides that one a little further back and that wasn’t my fault. I think it was a combination of everything.”

 

Can you elaborate on what happened?

 

“About two years back we were out one night and we got hit by an 18-wheeler, me, Mike Will, Antwone Bailey, and Torrey Ball, but the driver was at fault and he said it in the police report. We weren’t arrested and no one was hurt.  The car was totaled but no one got hurt.”

 

How familiar are you with the Saints O-line?

 

“Actually, we watch a lot of the Saints film.  I watched the right guard, Jahari Evans, so I am pretty familiar with the O-line.”

 

How can you complement what you have seen and what can you bring to this offense?

 

“I can bring that intensity that every offensive line needs. I am going to come to work every day.  No days off.”

 

 

 

 

New Orleans Saints DB Corey White

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Saturday, April 28, 2012

 

Q: Does it excite you to know that you are coming to a place that has had success taking a chance on smaller school players?

A: “The Saints are a great team. They do a great job in the draft every year. It doesn’t matter where you come from, big school or small school. As long as you, the player, have the right intentions going in to camp, you will be fine.”

 

Q: How much cornerback did you play? Do they see you as a safety?

A: “I played three years of corner. I am not sure, I haven’t talked to them yet. I am sure they will try me out at corner first and maybe move me to safety later on down the road.”

 

Q: Did you play safety or corner last year?

A: “Corner.”

 

Q: Can you talk about the combine experience and what you did to prepare? How do you think you did?

A: “It was a great experience. Just to be around the top players in the nation, it was a great experience. I feel like I did very well in all of the categories, in all of the position drills. And the interviews. I did well in all of it. I felt good about the combine.”

 

Q: What did you run in the 40-yard dash at the combine?

A: “4.47 at the combine.”

 

Q: What about at your pro day?

A: “4.40 flat.”

 

Q: Where are you today and who are you with? Did you expect to be drafted around this time?

A: “We expected to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round. I am at home in Atlanta right now with my family. Proud to be a Saint.”

 

Q: Do you think your athleticism stands out?

A: “Yeah, definitely. I feel like I can play anywhere in the secondary including special teams. I feel like I am a ballhawk. I am going to go get the ball if it’s in the air.”

 

Q: Who would you compare yourself to in the NFL today?

A: “Charles Woodson. I feel like he is a complete defensive back. He can do it all: tackle, cover, zone player, man player, he can do it all. I like to compare myself to him.”

 

Q: What would you say about your leaping ability?

A: “Yeah. That is what I can do. I can go up and get the ball at it’s highest point. I think that is what I do best.”

 

Q: Do you have any track and field experience?

A: “No, I didn’t get in to that in high school. I played basketball and football so I left track alone.”

 

Q: What did you play in basketball?

A: “I was the enforcer actually. I came in on defense to foul people. You know football players, they can’t control themselves on a basketball court. I was the enforcer”

 

Q: Did you grow up a Falcons fan?

A: “No. Even though I was born and raised in Atlanta, I was not a Falcons fan. My whole family is. I never liked the Falcons. I cheered for them, but they weren’t my favorite team.”

 

Q: Who was?

A: “San Diego. The San Diego Chargers. Ever since LaDainian Tomlinson was in San Diego, I liked them. He is my favorite player.”

 

Q: Are you looking forward to going against Drew Brees in practice?

A: “Oh yeah. It’s going to be fun picking off some balls from Drew Brees. It is going to be real fun.”

 

Q: I see you are not lacking for confidence…

A: “I am real confident in my game. You have to be confident to play this game.”

 

Q: How did you end up at Samford?

A: “I got recruited by a lot of D-1 AA schools. I felt like this school was a great school academics-wise and it was close to my family. The people here are great.”

 

Q: What did you major in?

A: “Computer Science.”

 

Q: Would you be upset if they put you at safety first?

A: “I don’t feel a certain way about either position. I feel like I can come in and be an impact at both.”

 

Q: How tall are you?

A: “I am 6’, 205 lbs.”


Former New York Jets WR Al Toon



Father of New Orleans Saints WR Nick Toon

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Saturday, April 28, 2012

 

Even though you had a difficult end to your football career with post-concussion syndrome which forced you to retire, can you discuss your role as a parent in terms of encouraging or coaching Nick to follow in your footsteps?

 

“Oh you did, I don’t remember that. We actually instill in all of our kids independence and to be independent thinkers and to make their own decisions.  It was an honor for us to have him follow in my wife and I’s footsteps going to the University of Wisconsin and becoming a Badger.  He made the decision on his own, he was pretty excited about the opportunity and thought like, well, I’m going to have my biggest fan base here in Wisconsin and they call him and offer him a full scholarship so he felt that they were really excited about him.”

 

With all the concussions you had, are you involved in any of the current lawsuits with the NFL?  

 

“I am not. I am kind of waiting to see how all of that plays out. Obviously right now my focus right now has been my kids and making sure Nick is doing the right things, which he has been and making sure he is prepared physically and emotionally for this process.  That has been my focus.  I am history.  I am an alumni.  I have moved on.  The game has obviously become dangerous and that is part of the game. I am just watching how this whole concussion lawsuit situation progresses.”

 

Can you tell us your reaction when the Saints had drafted him?

 

“They called my phone, so I was thinking who is calling me right now? I was glad that I answered the phone but my reaction was when they asked for Nick, I hope this is them. I didn’t recognize the area code, but I hoped it was a team, I didn’t know who it was.  Then I saw Nick’s face light up and I knew it had to be the call.  Obviously we were watching the television screen and assumed it was the Saints.  The room was ecstatic and excited.  The community is getting a great kid.  Obviously you are promoting of your kids, but in this case he truly is a great kid.  We preach that as parents. We made that our number one goal to be great citizens.  Again, we are really excited about the opportunity.  We are excited to come down. The first game, that we plan so far, is December 30, and celebrating New Year’s down there.”

 

You probably know better than anybody the importance of having a good quarterback to be successful at that position.  What are your thoughts about playing for a guy like Drew Brees?

 

“Clearly Drew Brees has proved to the world that he is an exceptional person and quarterback.  You couldn’t ask for an individual or athlete who is any more dedicated to the sport, dedicated to the community and represents the organization as well as he does.  Nick is excited and as a former player that has had some success in the league and seen some great quarterbacks, I watch him play and see the confidence in how he plays, the style of play, and the accuracy of his throws.  He clearly has a high football IQ and those are the things you look for.”

 

Were you disappointed that your son went in the fourth round?

 

“Clearly from an ego standpoint to a self-evaluation standpoint, you look at that situation and he said wow I wish I would have gone higher, but I said to him throughout this whole process that you want to go where they want you and it’s not about where you get drafted, it’s what you do with your opportunity.  We try to keep him focused on that. The call finally came in and now we are moving forward.”

 

I’m sure a lot of people in Wisconsin compared your son to yourself as a player. How would you compare your son to yourself as a player?

 

“The biggest difference is, I was a track guy and my goal was to represent the United States in the Olympics in 1984. I qualified for a couple of events, but didn’t make it to the trials, but then I kind of converted to a football player. So my mentality was always track, Nick’s has always been football first. He loves the game, he has always loved the game, has always wanted to play the game. My philosophy behind this whole ‘football, kid following in your footsteps thing’ is that I felt that I had to be very careful because I didn’t want him to feel like I was pushing him into the game, so I never put out or put out in presentation of any of my trophies or jerseys, although actually I did hang one of my jerseys. But I didn’t hang a lot of my stuff up because I didn’t want him to get the sublime message that it’s all about football. I wanted him to develop that passion and desire for football, so what I did when he was younger was let him play little league, you know I wanted him to develop a skill set across the board, be more balanced and become a great person, and then he had to decide whether he wanted to play football. And when he decided he was hungry, he was ready to go. Actually when he got to Wisconsin, he was pretty greedy as a receiver and I let the coach there (DelVaughn Alexander) do his job and coach Nick, and I kind of stayed out of the way and watched from afar and he developed into a great football player.”

 

Was Edwin Moses one of your track competitors in your era?

 

“He’s slightly older, but I watched a lot of Edwin Moses. Ah- Edwin Moses was a lot older; Carl Lewis was a little bit older.”

 

I wonder what it says with Henry Ellard here now as the wide receiver coach, I guess who must’ve been close to your era, what it means for a coach who actually played well in the NFL to be so high on your son?

 

“Well it’s obviously humbling and - Henry and I actually led the league one year together, he led the NFC and I led the AFC. We are actually on a card together, which is pretty funny. I told Nick I have to pull one of those out, I got to locate one, it’s actually pretty ironic and here’s the deal, I wouldn’t say strange but I don’t know what word to use right now: four days ago, my wife dreamt that Nick was going to the Saints.”

 

Al, what is your wife’s name?

 

“Jane. Jane woke up four days ago and said, you know, ‘I dreamt that Nick was going to the Saints.’ And Nick was like ‘Really?! I hope I go earlier than that but it is what it is.’ It’s going to be great for him. He’s tremendously excited, we all are, and we are behind the Saints and you guys have a new fan base in Wisconsin.”

 

What do you and or your son know about New Orleans?

 

“We know it’s a great place to be. We know obviously that they have gone through a huge transition with flooding and, as a matter of fact when I was in college we used to due to our spring breaks during track season down at LSU. So I’ve been there in the 80s and would go down to Bourbon Street and do a little bit of that, but I don’t believe that Nick has ever been down there. I told Nick, “We need to get online, we need to do some studying now that we know where you’re going to end up.” So he is going to be well-versed when he gets there.”

Where are you right now?

 

“I’m at my apartment in Lincoln, Nebraska right now.”

 

 

And you are originally from Arizona?

 

“Yes, born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.”

 

 

What brought you to Nebraska?

 

“They had a good program for football; they came out and recruited me. It was between Nebraska and Arizona State, and I just though that Nebraska was a better fit for me, so I came out here and had had a pretty good career. I’m looking forward to a new career in New Orleans.”

 

 

Carl Nicks, who has recently moved on from the Saints, was our most recent guy from Nebraska and had a lot of success. Are you guys familiar with one another and if so, what did you learn from him?

 

“Carl was at Nebraska during my redshirt freshman year. I remember watching Carl play the game and seeing just how physical he was, how big he was, he was just a monster on the field. Ever since I saw Carl and I came to Nebraska, I knew I wanted to be like that- I want to be a big dominant offensive lineman. It’s pretty ironic that Carl got drafted there in the fifth round and ended up earning a spot and some playing time. He’s off to a great career because he’s a great offensive lineman, and now I have the same opportunity and now it’s time to take advantage of it.”

 

 

Do you feel like the pedigree with Nebraska, known for their offensive lineman, had a lot to do with the Saints selecting you?

 

“I don’t know. I hope they selected me on the basis of how I play the game. I hope they selected me because I’m a great player. Being from Nebraska, they are known for their great offensive lineman and their great coaches here with Coach Cotton and Coach Garrison. They taught me great technique and they taught me how to play the game well so, I guess that might’ve helped. But I hope New Orleans picked me because I’m a great player and I will fit their system well.”

 

 

Are you excited to come to New Orleans and play with players like Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, etc.?

 

“Yes! I am extremely excited. Oh man, this is every kid’s dream to make it to the NFL, let alone make it to a Super Bowl contending team. I’m just so blessed to be in this opportunity right now and hopefully I can go out there and make a good impression on the coaches and make the team.”

 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your injury history? It looked like you were banged up a little bit as a junior, and how did you come back as a senior?

 

“Well in my junior year I had a little back injury that held me out for some time. This past year I just wanted to come back and show everybody that I was healthy. Yes I had an injury last year, but that was last year and it’s in the past. This year I’ve been healthy throughout the whole season and going into the season. Hopefully I will try to dispel some of those things about being injury prone and all of that stuff. I tried to silence some of those critics with how I played my senior year.”

 

 

What did you graduate with your degree in?

 

“I graduated in construction management. I majored in construction management and minored in general business. I’ve always been a guy that wanted to work with my hands and I’ve never been a suit and tie kind of guy so I figured it’s somewhere where I can use my hands. It’s a lot of math. I like math. I like to think a little bit so I figured something like that would work well for me. I’m happy with that major.”

 

 

What do you like to do in your free time?

 

“I like to hang out with my teammates. I like to just hang out with the guys, be a normal guy pretty much. I’ve never been hunting before but I’ve always wanted to. Being in Nebraska, I have a lot of teammates that go out and do it, and I always talk to them about going but I could never make it out there, so maybe I’ll get the chance to do that.”

 

 

Do you like to fish?

 

“I’ve been fishing once, and it was pretty fun I guess. I think it’s something that you like it or you don’t. I haven’t gone fishing a lot of times so I can’t tell you if I like it or I hate it yet, so hopefully I get some more opportunities to go out there and do that. But I hear it’s really relaxing, and that’s right up my alley.”

 

 

Arizona is known to be a very dry heat. We don’t have that down here; it is a very wet heat.

 

“That’s fine. Coming from Nebraska, it’s really humid summers out here. I figured if I could play in Nebraska, I could play anywhere. It’s the coldest of cold and the hottest of hot with the 90-degree heat and the 90% humidity out here. Then you flip the script and you go below freezing. So I figured if I could play here I could play anywhere. “

 

 

What would you say your strengths are as a lineman? Are you looking forward to blocking for Drew Brees?

 

“For a guy my size, I think I move my feet pretty well. I have a pretty good kick-slide so that will come in handy when Drew drops back to pass. I’m a young guy; I’ve still got a lot to learn. I’d love to go in there and learn from all the veterans, ask them what I can bring. I think I can bring a little youth, I can move my feet pretty well, I’ve got pretty good hands and pretty long arms as well. I can use my length to my advantage when I need it. Those are some things I can bring to the team and am looking forward to bringing. “


Date: Saturday, April 28, 2012, 7:07 PM

New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael and Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon

Post-Draft Wrap-Up Media Availability

Saturday, April 28, 2012

 

Vitt Opening Statement: We would like to say that Sean (Payton) would have been so proud about how our scouts worked this weekend. They’ve been working hard here for the last month. The draft was extremely organized. There was really a great consensus on the players that we took. We took these players (and) they fit into the mode we want: their character, integrity, passion for the game and work habits. Mickey has always done a good job, but we’re proud of our scouts. That being said, we’ve talked about our first two picks. Corey White from Samford, a small school, we really liked. Kenny Flajole kind of got on this guy early. There was a consensus with the scouts and Spags. He’s a little bigger corner. We think he could have the opportunity to play some nickel. He did earlier in his career, but we’re excited about him. Tiller from Syracuse, we had a little bit of inside information. You guys all know Doug Marrone. He’s the head coach up at Syracuse now. He likes this prospect. He knows what we want here and feels that would be a fit for us. That’s the consensus among the coaches and the scouts and then with Marcel Jones from Nebraska. At this point in the draft, we took some height, weight, speed, a guy that had some intangibles we think can lend to our football team.”

 

Spagnuolo Q: Are you looking to play White at corner initially rather than safety?

A: “Yes, he has some length. We’re going to be a press team. He had shown he can do that pretty good.”

 

Spagnuolo, Vitt, McMahon Q: Do you like his vertical ability?

Spagnuolo A: “Yes, he showed that. He’s one of those guys that showed up a little bit at an all-star game…small-school player, but a guy that shows up. All the feedback we received from the coaches and the information was positive.”

Vitt: “I think one of the things that were impressive about him is that when he played against a big-time opponent he played really well.”

McMahon: “He jumped out in the Auburn game. We saw him on certainly defense and special teams. He’s a guy that when you come from a small school, you want to see him against good competition. He played well.”

 

Vitt Q: Over the past two days you have talked about how the guys you have drafted have been at the top of your board in these draft locations. At the same time, do you think that you have satisfied any of your needs?

Vitt A: “That’s a good question. We think we’re a pretty good football team and so it kind of gets to the point now where you don’t have to reach for a need. We’ve done a great job in the offseason with unrestricted free agency, so now, we had a pool of about 18 players that we thought would potentially be there in the third and fourth round and they were there and again, we didn’t reach on anybody. We let the board come to us and maintained the discipline of the draft.”

 

Vitt Q: Was that unusual?

Vitt A: “I thought it was smooth. I really did. There have been some hectic drafts that I’ve been a part of and we’ve all been a part of. This was well-organized. Mickey (Loomis) did a great job. Again, Sean (Payton) would have been so proud of our scouts. They did a great job. The coaches really did a great job in their evaluations. We feel good about it. We can’t wait to get them in two weeks. We’re having our minicamp and we’ll start to coach them up then.”

 

Vitt Q: How tough is it to find gems in later rounds, even though this organization has historically been able to do so the last six years?

Vitt A: “I think it’s how you look at it. In my hard and my mind right now, these guys are all Pro Bowl players until they prove us different. We think they have all the redeeming qualities necessary to make our football team and compete in the league. But we’ve had a lot of low round draft picks and (undrafted) free agents make this team. We’ve had a lot of players from small schools make this team. You make a team a lot of different ways in a lot of different phases with different backgrounds. Their intangibles, their character, football character, their tenacity and love for the game and resiliency (will help them).”

 

Carmichael Q: Everybody will want to make comparisons of Andrew Tiller and Marcel Jones to the drafting of players like Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks and Zach Strief in middle to low rounds. Is that fair right now?

Carmichael A: “We’re excited about these two guys. We feel like there’s a chance for these guys to come in and contribute in some form and whether it’s a year or two down the road…To compare them, I don’t know if that’s fair right now, but we’re excited about (having) them.”

 

Vitt and McMahon Q: When you look at the draft picks from rounds three to seven, where does special teams come into play as you have said this is a hard football team to make. Where does special teams go into the equation?

Vitt A: “Every reading that we have on defense and three quarters of the readings we have on offense will have a special teams category in there. Mac, how many guys  do you grade in there?”

McMahon A: “We do quite a few. Every linebacker, every defensive player we do.”

Vitt A: “When we look at a player we want to see how they’re going to contribute, how many snaps can we project per game. That all goes into it.”

 

Vitt Q: It’s been said that you should often take an offensive lineman late in the draft due to the maturation process.  What goes into the maturation process of a rookie offensive lineman?

Vitt A: “When you get late in the draft, I think there are two positions.  I think offensive line is one.  You’ve got to have the size, you’ve got to have to have the mass and you’ve got to have the footwork and hand placement to be able to compete in this league.  When you get a guy who has those qualities that you covet, you take a chance on him.  At cornerback, a guy may not have played very well in the beginning of his career and maybe didn’t have a good senior year, but he has the speed, the recover ability, the hips and the fluidness to break on the ball.  I think those are the two positions you take a chance on late in the draft.  If you go back with the history of our draft, that’s what Al Davis used to make a living on was the late-round picks.  Gil Brandt with the Dallas Cowboys when there were 15 or 16 rounds in a draft (is another example).  Those guys made a living at that stuff.  To a degree we still do it.”

 

Vitt Q: Do you all find yourselves being more cohesive as an entity until Sean Payton gets back in regards to coaching instead of just one figurehead?

Vitt A: “This is Sean’s (Payton) football team.  Sean brought us all together and we’re going to work hard to make him proud.  We don’t want to let him down.  We’re going to work as hard as we can not to let our players down.  We’re going to work together and be responsible so we don’t let Mr. Benson down.  We have a close, cohesive staff.  We’ve always had that and our players see that.  You can’t fool players.  I’m not going to say that this is going to be easy.  This is going to be a challenge.  I’ve said this in the press conference the other day, we built a football team to coincide with the resiliency of this city when we first got down here.  We’re tough enough to whether this storm.  We have the right people and the right coaches and we’re looking forward to it.”

 

Vitt Q: Without a first or second round pick in this year’s draft, was there less pressure on you all with the draft selections in the later rounds?

Vitt A: “I can tell you this, when we lose our first game we’re not going to look at each other and say, ‘Well at least we didn’t have a second round pick.  That’s the excuse for losing.’ We’re going to coach the guys we have here.  We’re going to coach them as hard as we can.  We all know that our responsibility is to get our players better and then collectively get our team better.  We talked about this as a staff, the glass is half full.  Mark Ingram and Greg Romeus were our first two picks this year and then we went to the third round and got (Akiem) Hicks.  We’ve got good football players.  We’re excited about our draft and we’re excited about the prospects.”

 

Vitt Q: Why will Akiem Hicks be different from Al Woods?

Vitt A: “I think this guy (Akiem Hicks) has a quicker twitch, he has better feet and he uses his better.  Off the top of my head, that’s what I’ve seen in the evaluation.”

 

Spagnuolo Q: Some people had Corey White in the 600’s for available prospects.  What went into evaluating him so high?

Spagnuolo A: “Joe (Vitt) hit it when he said we put a premium on corners in the package we’re going to run on arm length, height and his press ability.  He showed that he was able to do that in this system.  We have corners that have done that a lot.  I think he’ll fit in that way.  He played at a small school so you’ll get dinged for that a little bit and I don’t know if that’s always fair.  That’s what our scouts dug up, a good name, a good prospect, we all looked at him and thought he was a pretty good football player.”

 

Vitt Q: Do you feel like you’re finished filling in with free agency?

Vitt A: “No, we’re never done.  We’re going to look at the board every day.  Mickey (Loomis) and Ryan Pace are going to always look to upgrade our football team.  It’s funny, the draft just happened and now there’s going to be a second wave of cuts around the league.  We’re going to evaluate that and see how we can upgrade our football team.  That’s an ongoing process.”

 

Vitt Q: Are you beginning the undrafted rookie free agency signing period now?

Vitt A: “We’re going right now.”

 

Vitt Q: Is there a number of incoming rookie free agents you’re trying to hit?

Vitt A: “There is, but I’m not sure exactly what it is.  I think it’s 18 to fill out the roster to get to 90 (players).”

 

Vitt Q: Do you think the NFC is going to be stronger this year?

Vitt A: “I think the conference is going to be better this year.  I think our division is going to be better this year just with the players that came in last year coming into their second year.  I think Cam Newton is going to be better, I think Julio Jones is going to be better and we’ve got to work hard to get better.  You can’t speculate on the draft picks coming in this year.  I know this; we’re going to love every one of these guys coming in here.  We learned a long time ago as coaches that you have to love the one you’re with.  I’ve been married 31 years and I wasn’t my wife’s first choice, I can promise you that.  That’s what we’re going to do.”

 

Saints-coachesWatch video Q and A with Saints coaches after Hicks selection and audio conference call with Hicks post-pick


 

by Ed Staton

 


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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  

 

Website: www.louisianasportstalk.com

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