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Devin Smith on visit with Saints: ‘They think I’m a great player’

Devin Smith recently came to New Orleans to meet with the Saints for a pre-draft visit and received a strong review from coach Sean Payton and wide receivers coach John Morton.

“They like what they’ve seen on film,” Smith said during an interview with WWL’s Kristian Garic. “They think I’m a great player and think I have a lot to add to their team and any NFL team, as well.”

Smith emerged as one of the better deep threats in college football last season, and finished the year with 33 catches for 931 yards (28.2 yards per reception) and 12 touchdowns.

However, despite his high level of production, some have used those figures against him, stating that Smith lacks the ability to run short and intermediate routes. The receiver does not agree with asseessment and is eager to show people there’s more in his arsenal.

“I know I can do a lot,” Smith said. “It’s just getting a chance to show everyone I’m more than just a deep threat. But at the same time, when you look at some of the numbers that I’ve put up and some of the things I’ve done, not many too many receivers are out here doing what I’m doing with being consistent with catching the long ball and averaging what I’m averaging.”

Smith said his visit with the Saints went well and that nothing out of the ordinary occurred. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the coaches and open up about who he is as a man and football player.

“It gives them the chance to actually to dig deep and ask about yourself and how you get motivated and things like that,” Smith said. “It’s better because you actually get to open up a little bit a little bit instead of having to talk to a bunch of people at once.”

The wide receiver said he expects to be selected late in the first round or sometime in the second. New Orleans has the 13th, 31st, and 44th picks in the draft.

Source: Ohio State WR Devin Smith visited Saints

One of the better deep-threats in the upcoming draft recently visited with the Saints.

New Orleans used one of its 30 pre-draft visits to recently bring Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith to town, according to a source.

The 6-foot receiver caught 33 passes for 931 yards last season with 12 touchdowns as a senior. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the scouting combine.

The Saints have a need at wide receiver after trading Kenny Stills to the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun first reported this news. Smith also visited the Cowboys, Dolphins, 49ers and Panthers.

Mike Mayock thinks the Saints could draft Randy Gregory

Randy Gregory very well might end up the best pass rusher to come out of next week’s draft.

He also might become a cautionary tale.

There’s no question the Nebraska pass rusher is one of the more talented players in this draft class, but off-field concerns, which includes a failed drug test at February’s scouting combine, could cause him to drop well into the first round.

At some point, some team is going to determine that his talent is too great to pass up and pull the trigger, and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock believes New Orleans could be the team to take the plunge.

“In my head he could go 13 or 31 to New Orleans,” the draft analyst said during a conference call. “But these are the kind of deals where teams keep it real quiet, they don’t let anybody know. They get their owners to buy off.”

As Mayock points out, the whole organization will have to sign off for a team to take a chance on Gregory. New Orleans began the vetting process earlier this month by bringing Gregory in for a visit.

Once a team drafts him, Mayock believes that team will have to provide a certain infrastructure to help him success.

“If we get him later in the first round or the second round, we’ve got an All-Pro talent that if we provide him with everything he needs, maybe we get it out of him and we mitigate that boom/bust conversation,” Mayock said.

Saints could look to draft a quarterback, but it would be foolish to get locked in on one

There’s no need to force anything.

As long as the Saints have Drew Brees, and he remains upright and effective, there isn’t a pressing need to find the next quarterback. There is, of course, merit to locating said player and letting him marinate behind the scenes until it’s time to make a transition, but that process can start later.

Considering the number of holes the Saints have to fill, it would be foolish to enter next week’s draft with the intent to select a quarterback at all costs. If there’s someone they like, and he happens to fall and the value to great to pass up, then pull the trigger.

Otherwise, there’s no need to waste a bullet.

It seemed this storyline was put to rest at last month’s owner’s meetings when New Orleans coach Sean Payton said his team would not be drafting Marcus Mariota. But this story was brought back to life Thursday when Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reported the Saints have worked out Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson.

Alone, this isn’t wildly notable. The Saints met with Florida State’s Jameis Winston at the combine and meet with hundreds of players during the pre-draft process, some of which happen to play quarterback. Only a handful of those guys will ever wear black and gold. It’s due diligence and a process that helps teams set their draft boards and accurately value their picks.

What took this to the next level is that Cole, citing multiple sources, said the Saints are expected to select a quarterback within the early rounds of the draft and want to have a plan in place to transition away from Brees over the next three or four years.

The second piece of that equation might come off like another splash report, and it does sound a bit salacious, but is obvious. Brees is 36. In three or four years, he’s going to be 39 or 40. It’s possible that he’ll still be a productive quarterback at that point, but his best years will be well behind him. It’s good business to find the next quarterback before you need to find the next quarterback.

But as far as forcing a pick and getting locked into a position at a specific point in the draft — well, that doesn’t make sense. Even if they pull the trigger, there’s no guarantee that the Saints will select the quarterback who will replace Brees this year.

If he hangs around for three or four years, then the guy they draft would be a free agent by the time New Orleans is ready to make the transition. If that guy is any good, chances are he’ll be looking to move on when his contract expires in search for an opportunity to play.

Now, it’s possible the Saints could draft someone, give him a couple years to learn behind the scenes, and then part ways with Brees so that player could take over. But that player would have to win the job. If Brees remains a top-10 quarterback, that isn’t the kind of asset you walk away from unless you are absolutely sure you have the next guy. If he is, then you’re OK with cutting bait a little early and moving on. Brees was already part of this equation once in San Diego. But if you aren’t sure, you stick with the incumbent as long as possible.

That’s why it was always dumb to think Brees could be traded this offseason. You fight and claw to find franchise quarterbacks. Those who locate these guys are typically the teams playing for something in January or February. Everyone else spends their time searching for the guy who can get them there.

When you have the luxury of having a franchise quarterback, there’s no need to force a pick. It often doesn’t work out well. Ask all the teams trying to find their Brees, Brady or Manning.

Drew Brees would be fine with the Saints drafting a quarterback

Drew Brees has heard all the talk and all the whispers.

He heard rumors about how he was being traded here and speculation about why he should be traded there. He dismissed it all.

And, if the Saints for some reason decide to draft a quarterback next week, Brees will approach it in a similar manner. He’ll simply keep going about his job and worry about the things he can control.

“That’s their prerogative,” Brees said during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. “At the end of the day, you’re trying to acquire talent and you’re thinking long term.

“That doesn’t change my mindset or my preparation or my approach one bit. You know, I’ve been in those situations before. If the idea is to prepare for the future, then great. If the idea is to bring somebody in to compete with me, then that’s fine too.

“At the end of the day, I don’t control that. And I think competition brings out the best in everybody. No one’s gonna push me harder than I’m gonna push myself. So for that reason, I don’t concern myself with any of that.”

Drew Brees confident in the Saints, is excited to get to back to work with Brandin Cooks

Drew Brees wasn’t given advance warning when the Saints traded away tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Kenny Stills this offseason.

He didn’t need it.

The Saints quarterback believes in coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis and is confident the duo will put together a product that is capable of competing at a high level — even if the moves are sometimes surprising.

“I think at the end of the day, I trust, we trust, Sean, Mickey, all those involved in the decisions to make the decisions that are best for the team,” Brees said. “So you never question that. It’s always, the guys that are in the locker room, those are the guys that we have and that’s who we’re moving forward with.

“And I think we’re poised to make a big play in this draft with the number of picks that we have and the amount of talent that’s out there. And I think that’s what we’re looking forward to and excited about right now.”

Part of the reason for that confidence is that Brees trust the weapons that are still around him. He spent time working with last year’s first-round pick, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, in San Diego this offseason and believes he will be key part of the offense.

“Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. And we spent some time together this offseason,” Brees said of Cooks, who caught 53 passes for 550 yards last season before suffering a thumb injury. “And, man, I love everything about him, his makeup, and then just his physical ability. I mean he’s got all kinds of talent.”

Sean Payton: Nearly everyone accounted for at offseason program

Sean Payton has no complaints about attendance for the early portion of the Saints offseason program.

The Saints coach said nearly everyone is attendance and those who are not have made contact with him about their absences. Of those missing, he noted that safeties Pierre Warren and Vinnie Sunseri have been excused to finish earning their college degrees.

“Yeah, everyone else is pretty much accounted for,” Payton said. “There might be a player or two, but they reached out to me. One of the advantages of being here is that the weather is conducive to guys wanting to train. You know, it’s a little bit more of a challenge when you’re further up north.”

Payton said he conducted a team meeting at the start of the program to go over key dates and get all the players up to speed.

While the team is looking for a different feel this season after going 7-9 last year, quarterback Drew Brees said it is too early to get a read on the team.

“Way too early in regards to the identity that’s built by the team because that takes months and months and throughout training camp and you build that over time and with repetition, with practice,” Brees said. “At this point, I just know we’ve got a bunch of young hungry guys that see a great opportunity.”

New Orleans Saints 2015 schedule

Here is the Saints’ schedule for 2015:

Week 1: at Arizona, Fox, 3:05
Week 2: vs Tampa Bay, Fox, Noon
Week 3: at Carolina, Fox, Noon
Week 4: vs Dallas, NBC, 7:30
Week 5: at Philadelphia, Fox, Noon
Week 6: vs Atlanta, CBS, 7:25 (Thursday night)
Week 7: at Indianapolis, Fox, Noon
Week 8: vs Giants, Fox, Noon
Week 9: vs Tennessee, CBS, Noon
Week 10: at Washington, Fox, Noon
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: at Houston, Fox, Noon
Week 13: vs. Carolina, Fox, Noon
Week 14: at Tampa Bay, Fox, Noon
Week 15: vs Detroit, ESPN, 7:30 (Monday night)
Week 16:vs Jacksonville, CBS, Noon
Week 17: at Atlanta, Fox, Noon

Preseason
at Baltimore Aug 13 at 6:30
vs New England Aug 22 at TBD
vs. Texans Aug 30 at 3
at Green Bay Sept. 3 at 6

Jon Gruden thinks the Saints should keep their picks and draft multiple players

Everyone has a theory on what the Saints will do in the draft.

Some think the team will be aggressive and move up. Others think they should stand pat and let the board come to them.

Put ESPN’s Jon Gruden in both camps. He thinks the Saints should let the board come to them and acquire multiple players, but he also wouldn’t be surprised if New Orleans makes an aggressive move up the board.

“I do know the Saints have two first-round draft picks, they have a number of picks in the top 75,” Gruden said. “If they sit where they are I think they are going to be able to acquire five really good players.

“I like Bud Dupree from Kentucky. I like Shane Ray from Missouri a lot. I think there’s going to be a pass rusher potentially there for them at No. 13. But you never know with Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton. They’ve proven that they’ll go up. They went up last year to get Brandin Cooks, they moved up to get (Mark) Ingram. If there’s something they want they have no fear in going up to get it. That will be fun to watch.”

New Orleans has five picks within the first three rounds, including the No. 13 and 31 selections. The team has the ammunition to move just about anywhere in the draft if there is a player it has to have.

But, as Gruden mentioned, the Saints also have the luxury to acquire multiple players and plug various holes.

The draft starts on April 30.

NFL schedule to be announced on Tuesday

The NFL has announced that the schedule for the 2015 will come out on Tuesday.

The Saints will play Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Dallas, the Giants, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Detroit at home.

New Orleans travels to Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Indianapolis and Arizona.

The dates and times for those games will be set Tuesday.

More to come..