Small-school tight end draft prospect calls visit with Saints ‘a success’

A 6-foot-4, 238-pound tight end who was reportedly on pace to be a small-school All-American in 2013 on Thursday declared a visit with the Saints “a success,” suggesting New Orleans might be interested in grabbing him either late in the upcoming draft or in free agency if he’s not chosen.

Chase Dixon

Chase Dixon

Central Arkansas’ Chase Dixon on Wednesday announced via Twitter he was flying to New Orleans to visit the Saints the following day. He then tweeted, “Visit with the Saints was a success! Ready to head back home.”

Before his flight to New Orleans, Dixon played 32 games for Central Arkansas from 2010 to 2013, catching 33 passes for 379 yards and 10 touchdowns for his career at a school that competes in the Southland Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

He hauled in 22 of those grabs, 262 of those yards and six of those TDs last season. But he broke his leg in October and played in only six games for the campaign. He had scored once in each outing, causing at least one local paper to speculate that he was en-route to an All-America selection.

Dixon earned second-team, all-conference honors at the end of the year. In a news release touting Dixon’s recognition, Central Arkansas coach Clint Coque said, “I’m especially happy for Chase …, that the voters recognized what kind of year he was having, even though it was cut short by injury.”

It does not appear that any outlets expect the bulky Dixon will be drafted. But, under coach Sean Payton, the Saints have never been shy about bringing in unheralded college prospects and putting them on the roster if the team thinks they can contribute.

Other prospects the Saints have either had in for visits or are planning to meet with include Southern California receiver Marqise Lee, Wyoming wideout Robert Herron and Oklahoma defensive back Aaron Colvin. They had dinner plans on Wednesday with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, both receivers from nearby LSU.

(H/T Canal Street Chronicles, who highlighted Dixon’s tweets).

Source: Saints among many interested in Demarcus Lawrence

The Saints have set up a visit with Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, an NFL source confirmed to The Advocate on Friday. But, NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport reported, he’s already visited the Falcons; and he will do the same with the Patriots, Jets and Cowboys, among others.

The 6-foot-3, 251-pound Lawrence has drawn second-round draft projections after leading the Mountain West conference with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in 2013. He is relatively quick for a defensive end, having clocked a 4.8-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine and another one of 4.69 seconds in another workout, per CBSSports.com.

Demarcus Lawrence

Demarcus Lawrence

On the flip-side, the site judged, he seems to have less than ideal speed for a linebacker and does not have the same bulk typically seen in defensive linemen.

The Saints have good pass rushers in defensive end Cameron Jordan (12.5 sacks in 2013 and a Pro Bowl appearance) and outside linebacker Junior Galette (12 sacks last year). Other solid defensive linemen on the roster are Glenn Foster and Akiem Hicks.

Their pass-rushing depth should be helped with the expected return of outside linebacker Victor Butler, who missed the 2013 season with a knee injury.

However, 2014 is the last season in Butler’s two-year deal. Another outside linebacker, Parys Haralson, is also only under contract through 2014.

At the annual NFL owners meeting in March, coach Sean Payton said the Saints always place a premium on pass rushers, which makes Lawrence a logical candidate for a job in New Orleans.