The Saints may have already invested heavily in the position of safety, but that hasn’t discouraged them from meeting with one of the best prospects at that position in the upcoming draft.
Louisville’s Calvin Pryor set up a visit with the Saints for Monday, an NFL source confirmed for The Advocate. NFL Network’s Gil Brandt first reported Pryor would visit the Saints on Monday as well as the Jets and the Bengals this week.
The Saints possess the No. 27 pick in the first round of the draft, which starts May 8. The Jets have the 18th selection, and the Bengals have the 24th.
The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Pryor attracted round one projections after amassing 69 tackles (5.5 behind the line of scrimmage), three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2013, good enough to land him on the All-American Athletic Conference’s First Team, according to CBSSports.com’s draft profile of him.
He anticipates plays well and has explosive closing speed, but he might be “almost too physical in an era in which heavy hitters often draw penalty flags,” CBSSports.com said in its evaluation of Pryor, who the site compared to the Giants’ Antrel Rolle.
Pryor told reporters at the scouting combine in February that he admired the hard-hitting playing style of Kam Chancellor, the 6-foot-3, 232-pound safety for the defending champion Seattle Seahawks.
“To play the game of football you have to be tough, and it’s a thinking game,” Pryor said.
He later added, “My father really instilled it in me at a young age. When I used to fall on the ground and I think I hurt myself, he would just tell me to get back and just keep going and it caught up with me later in life.”
Pryor’s visit with the Saints will be with a team that in March signed safety Jairus Byrd to a free-agent contract worth up to $54 million ($28 million of which is guaranteed) over six years. The Saints chose safety Kenny Vaccaro in the first-round of the 2013 draft, and they just signed restricted free-agent safety Rafael Bush to a two-year deal with a maximum value of about $4.5 million.
Other prospects the Saints have either had in for visits or were planning to meet with include Southern California receiver Marqise Lee (first round projections), Wyoming wideout Robert Herron (third to fourth round), Oklahoma defensive back Aaron Colvin (late rounds), Central Arkansas tight end Chase Dixon (undrafted), Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (second round), Southern California center Marcus Martin (second to third round), Florida State center Bryan Stork (fourth round) and Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders (undrafted).
They had dinner plans with Odell Beckham Jr. (first round) and Jarvis Landry (second to third round), both receivers from nearby LSU. Tulane on Friday held its pro day at the Saints’ training facilities — prospects there included Green Wave kicker Cairo Santos and wide receiver Ryan Grant, who could be available to NFL teams in the latter portions of the draft.
The Saints have only one receiver (Marques Colston) who has played more than one NFL season. Their only center as of Monday was Tim Lelito, who started two games at right guard as a rookie in 2013.
Nonetheless, the Saints have repeatedly said their intention is to draft players who best fit the team, regardless of position.