Saints linked to 2nd center available in upcoming draft: Weekend notes

The Saints on Saturday were linked to another center who will be available in the upcoming draft.

Marcus Martin

Marcus Martin

Southern California’s Marcus Martin recently visited New Orleans, and he did the same with the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, wrote Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun and National Football Post. He’s drawn second- to third-round projections.

Previous reports had Florida State center Bryan Stork visiting with the Saints on Thursday and Friday. Stork has received fourth-round draft projections, and he has been compared to Brian de la Puente, who started at center for the Saints from 2011 to 2013 but left for the Chicago Bears in free agency.

The first-string center on the Saints at the moment is Tim Lelito, who started two games in 2013 as a rookie at guard in place of an injured Jahri Evans. The Saints have said he would be given the chance to win the starting job at that position in camp but would have competition either from an NFL free agent or player coming out of college.

The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Martin played two seasons at guard and one at center for USC prior to declaring for the draft. He suffered ankle and knee injuries in the Trojans’ regular season finale and missed their victory in the Las Vegas Bowl, but he’s since posted 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

He’s also run the 40-yard dash (5.22 seconds) and a 4.93-second shuttle run in another workout, per CBSSports.com.

CBSSports.com’s draft analysts believe Martin can develop into a player that’s comparable to Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack.

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

For the record, earlier in April, Wilson reported that the Saints were going to visit with Sam Houston State All-American running back Timothy Flanders. Flanders is the all-time leading rusher in the history of the Southland Conference, which is in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). He had 5,664 ground yards and 66 touchdowns from 2010 to 2013 after transferring to Sam Houston State from Kansas State, where he red-shirted his freshman year.