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Vic Beasley lands with Saints in Todd McShay’s latest mock draft

Many people believe Vic Beasley worked himself into the top 10 with a strong performance at the combine, putting him out of reach for the New Orleans Saints.

Todd McShay isn’t among those people. The ESPN draft analyst projects the Saints will be able to select the Clemson pass rusher with the 13th pick in the draft.

McShay writes:

“I’ve got cornerback, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and offensive line as the Saints’ biggest need areas, and in Beasley they’d be filling one of those while upgrading their pass rush. He turned in one of the best all-around workouts of the 322 players invited to this year’s combine. He still needs to improve the power element to his game, both as a pass-rusher and when setting the edge versus the run, but he provided some indication that he’ll be able to do exactly that by adding 26 pounds to his frame since last spring.”

If the board shakes out like this, it would obviously be a welcomed development for the Saints. Beasley is one of the best pass rushers in this class and New Orleans needs to get their hands on at least one.

Here’s a breakdown of Beasley from draft contributor Christopher Jason.

Saints Draft Prospects: Bud Dupree could be the edge rusher New Orleans is looking for

BUD DUPREE

POSITION: DE/OLB

SCHOOL: Kentucky

HEIGHT: 6-foot-4

WEIGHT: 269 pounds

The Saints need pass rushers. Bud Dupree is a very good pass rusher. This form of math isn’t difficult. While he’s raw and needs refinement, he has the natural ability that could make him very enticing to NFL teams. It also helps that he’s a physical freak.

Guys of his stature are not supposed to be able to run a 4.56 40-yard dash. They aren’t supposed to have 42-inch vertical jumps or 138-inch broad jumps. But these are the traits Dupree possesses and they show up on film.

PROSPECT BREAKDOWN

There he is. There he is again. These are the thoughts that go through your mind while watching Dupree go about his business. He has a high motor and almost always seems to be around the ball, crashing the pocket or in pursuit of a run.

He wins with his first step. He’s so often the first man off the ball that it comes as a surprise when he isn’t. While at Kentucky, he often won with his first step and speed, but he also has the ability to bend the edge. Dupree has good flexibility, can bed his knees and ankles while rushing the passer, while also maintaining his balance. These traits, paired with his deadly first step, often allowed him to beat college offensive tackles to the outside. He also knows how to use his hands to swat away blocks.

As a linebacker, he can also drop into coverage. He also shows patience against the run and has the closing speed to chase down linebackers.

The knock on Dupree would be that he is a raw player who wins with his athleticism. He only has a few pass-rush moves and needs to become more refined to win at the next level. When he wins, he wins by beating the tackle to his outside shoulder. He has few, if any, inside moves.

He can get caught playing too high, which allows him to get blocked out too easily at times. And though he shows patience against the run, he can get caught failing to set the edge. There are also times when it seems as though he struggles to recognize and diagnose what’s happening in front of him. One such moment came against Missouri when he rushed the passer, missed the tackle, and then was slow to recover. His high motor allowed him to recover and make a sack. He also is susceptible to play-action fakes and can be slow to recover.

Overall, he carries his size well and is explosive. It’s easy to picture him blossoming at the next level if he is able to refine his technique.

WHERE WOULD HE FIT IN NEW ORLEANS?

The Saints need pass rushers. Dupree can rush the passer. It’s easy to picture him coming off the edge in a 4-3 front or as a 3-4 backer. New Orleans employees both fronts, so this could be a plus for Dupree.

It’s difficult to know how well he can cover since he was mostly limited to dropping back into a zone while at Kentucky. While it’s dangerous to get to say too much here, based on the limited samples, he could be serviceable in this area.

WHERE COULD THE SAINTS DRAFT HIM?

It’s difficult to know since there hasn’t been a consensus on Dupree. If New Orleans wants a stab at him, it might have to dive in at 13. The Saints could also potentially trade down and get him later in the first round. It’s possible, but unlikely, that he’s still there in the second round.

Lions release RB Reggie Bush

As expected, the Detroit Lions parted ways with veteran running back Reggie Bush on Wednesday.

Releasing Bush, 29, saves Detroit $1.7 million against the salary cap. He rushed for 297 yards on 76 carries and caught 40 passes for 253 yards last season.

Bush began his career in New Orleans and averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 7.3 yards per reception during his five years with the club. He was traded to Miami in 2011 and hooked on with the Lions in 2011.

While he’s aging and has battled injuries throughout his career, Bush might have had his best season in 2013 when he rushed for 1,0006 yards on 223 carries and caught 54 passes for 506 yards.

At the right price, he could still be a solid piece for a team in need of a player with his skill set.

 

Saints hire new communications director

The Saints announced the hiring of Fitz Ollison as the team’s new Senior Director of Football Communications.

Ollison, who has worked in the NFL for 15 years, previously held the same position with the Miami Dolphins, where he assisted in the management of public image and overall communications strategy for the organization.

The job was previously held by Doug Miller, who accepted a job at The Greenbrier.

“We are pleased to announce the addition Fitz (Ollison) to the Saints organization,” Saints senior vice president of communications Greg Bensel said in a statement. “He has served in a managerial role in many facets of our business, specifically with four teams. He will manage all aspects of the day-to-day Saints football communications’ efforts, which will also include interacting with digital media, community relations and our business and marketing operations. We look forward to him joining the team.”

Olison previously worked at FOX Sports as a field producer and stats contributor in 2007. Prior to that, he worked with the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons (2003-2006) as the team’s supervisor of football information.

He also worked for the Detroit Lions from 2000-01.

Saints select La’el Collins and Shane Ray in latest round of mock drafts

With all of the top pass rushers off the board, the Saints select LSU’s La’el Collins with the 13th pick in NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah latest mock draft.

Many have projected New Orleans will take a pass rusher with its first-round pick, but strong combine performances from Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Missouri’s Shane Ray, and Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. out of reach in Jeremiah’s mock.

Taking Collins would make sense. He performed strongly at the combine and the Saints could have a need on the offensive line if either guard Jahri Evans or Ben Grubbs is let go this offseason. In New Orleans, Collins, an offensive tackle, would likely move to guard.

The board shakes out differently in Peter King’s mock draft over at TheMMQB.com. He believes Ray will slip far enough for the Saints to take him with the 13th pick.

King explains: “Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is pretty happy with this pick. He wants a pressure player, and there are a few still out here, and the Saints would bypass some promising tackles to make this call. Mickey Loomis could go a lot of different directions here.”

Pretty happy? Ryan would probably be thrilled with this pick.

Collins is not in the top 15 in King’s mock draft.

New Orleans Saints Draft Prospects: Vic Beasley could be the right fit for Rob Ryan’s defense

By Christopher Jason

Vic Beasley

School: Clemson

Position: Edge

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 246 pounds

After being named a consensus All-American in 2013, it was a surprise that Vic Beasley decided to pass up first round money to come back for his senior season. But the Clemson product did not disappoint during his final season, as he finished with 21.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.

Beasley has always been known for his lightning-quick first step but scouts were concerned with his size, as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that Beasley only weighed 220 pounds last spring, which was his major question mark entering the 2014 NFL Combine. When Beasley arrived in Indianapolis for testing, he was measured at 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, which was a huge surprise for scouts and the media. Not only did his weigh-in exceed expectations but he dominated the field drills. He was considered a combine top performer in every category, running a 4.53 40-yard dash, 6.91 3 cone drill, 4.15 20-yard shuttle, jumping 41 inches in the vertical jump, 130 inches in the broad jump and doing 35 reps on the bench press. It is safe to say that Beasley trained hard and helped his draft stock immensely while in Indianapolis.

Prospect Breakdown

When watching Beasley come off the edge, the first thing that pops off the screen is his first step. He is always the first person off of the line of scrimmage and he is sometimes a yard or two into the backfield by the time his teammates are out of their stances. After coming off of the ball against the pass, he uses his speed and quickness to beat the opposing lineman off the edge. He is relentless as a pass rusher and does not give up on getting to the quarterback. Once he gets the correct angle, he uses his body well to get low and bend to give himself the best opportunity to beat the lineman and get to the quarterback. Beasley uses his hands violently to keep himself clean against opposing linemen but he needs to develop an arsenal of pass rushing moves at the next level.

Beasley is a speed pass rusher, so he lacks a little in the run game. At Clemson he played with his hand(s) in the ground and although he finished with 21.5 tackles for loss, he could be stronger at setting the edge when the ball is run at him. If he played last season in the 220-230 pound range, it is possible that the added weight could help him become a stronger player against the run and a more complete edge player. Beasley resembles a young Von Miller, who entered the league at the same size possessing similar positives and negatives in his game.

Although he was not used in pass coverage very often at Clemson, his combine testing shows that his hips are fluid and he can change direction easily without losing speed. But overall, Beasley is a speed pass rusher with elite athleticism, who should be used on the edge, to get after the quarterback.

Where would he fit in New Orleans?

Edge rushers are a priority in Rob Ryan’s defense and Beasley is the type of athlete that can be the prototypical 3-4 edge player, or with his added bulk, he could play outside linebacker in the 4-3 and come off the edge on passing downs.

Beasley’s combination of speed, strength and explosion would work wonders for Ryan and he could turn the former Tiger into one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. Beasley has the type of tools that Ryan could use creatively, by sticking his hand in the dirt or standing him up.

Where could the Saints draft him?

After Beasley’s superb NFL Combine, the Saints may be out of luck but there is a possibility that he could still be around at pick number 13 of the first round. If Beasley falls to the Saints, I would be very surprised if they did not select the former Clemson standout.

Follow Christopher Jason on Twitter @CJason112

Do more draft picks mean more success?

It’s become a generally accepted truth that the best way to win in the draft is to maximize the number of opportunities you have to hit on a pick.

Most believe the draft is a roll of the dice and that you will only hit on about 60 percent of your picks. So, the logic goes, the more often you roll the dice, the more opportunities you’ll have to win.

It’s a sound theory. It’s also flawed. Using this logic, it stands to reason that the best teams typically have the highest number of picks. This isn’t always true.

The Green Bay Packers (85), New England Patriots (82) and Cincinnati Bengals (82) have all had more draft picks than every other team in the NFL dating back to 2006, but there are plenty of other teams in the bottom half of the list that have also made a ton of picks over that span, including the St. Louis Rams (80) and Tennessee Titans (77).

By simply looking at the average number of picks of teams over .500 and those who finished below .500*, it’s easy to see there isn’t a strong correlation between success and the number of times a team is drafting. The 16 teams that finished above .500 from 2006-2014, averaged 73.125 picks (8.125 per season). Those who finished below averaged 70.12 (7.79 per season).

Eliminating the middle class, the seven teams that posted a winning percentage above .600 averaged 71.71 picks over this span. The seven teams below .400 checked in with an average of  70.71 picks.

What these numbers show — and it’s likely not a shocking revelation — is that, yes, some degree of talent is involved in the draft. Teams like St. Louis (80 picks), Oakland (72), and Tennessee (77) have had a high number of draft choices, but their quarterback position has remained unsettled and have struggled in recent seasons.

Meanwhile, teams like New Orleans (53, the lowest number in the NFL since 2006), Indianapolis (68) and San Diego (61), do not pick as often, yet they are among the more successful franchises during this span.

There are also things such as free agency, the singing of undrafted free agents, and other things to consider in terms of team success. But the idea that more picks means more success appears to be busted.

(*Note: Math isn’t my strongest suit. There’s probably a better way to do this, but this is the best I can do)

Here’s how the league stacks up:

Green Bay 85
New England 82
Philadelphia 82
Cincinnati 82
St. Louis 80
San Francisco 79
Seattle 78
Pittsburgh 77
Tennessee 77
Baltimore 76
Buffalo 76
Houston 73
Kansas City 72
Oakland 72
Dallas 72
Atlanta 71
Minnesota 71
Washington 70
Detroit 70
Cleveland 69
Tampa Bay 69
Carolina 68
Chicago 68
Denver 68
Indianapolis 68
Giants 67
Jacksonville 65
Miami 65
Arizona 65
San Diego 61
Jets 60
New Orleans 53
Includes regular and compensatory picks, as well as players taken in the supplemental draft

Carryover likely to grant Saints additional cap space

If the Saints get in touch with the league office by this afternoon, they will gain a little bit of cap relief.

Teams have until Tuesday afternoon to express their intent of carrying over unused salary cap space from the previous season. For New Orleans, this means it could gain $1.71 million in additional space.

The Saints have more than $165 million committed to the salary cap, meaning it will have to cut more than $20 million in salary to be in compliance by March 10, the beginning of the league year.

Early estimates have the 2015 salary cap between $140-143 million.

Source: ‘Mutual interest’ in Patrick Robinson returning to the Saints

The Saints have held preliminary contract discussions with cornerback Patrick Robinson and there is “mutual interest” in reaching an agreement, according to a source.

Robinson, a former first-round pick, is set to reach free agency. If a deal is not reached, the cornerback will be free to sign with another team when the league year begins on March 10.

Robinson served in various capacities last season before settling into the slot, where he held opposing quarterbacks to a 57.5 quarterback rating, according to Pro Football Focus. If he is brought back, the Saints would likely eye him for a similar role next season.

Robinson finished last season with 39 tackles and two interceptions.

During an interview at the scouting combine, coach Sean Payton listed cornerback as one of the team’s biggest offseason needs. The Saints recently signed Delvin Breaux out of the CFL and will likely look for additional help either through the draft or free agency.

Former Saints TE coach Terry Malone to join Purdue coaching staff

Terry Malone has found a new home.

The former New Orleans Saints tight ends coach is joining Purdue in the same capacity, according to CoachingSearch.com.

Malone was let go by the Saints earlier this offseason after spending nine years with the team.

Former running backs coach Dan Roushar moved over from his position as running backs coach, and Joel Thomas was hired away from Arkansas to serve as the Saints’ running backs coach.