Did The Saints Find Any ‘Steals’ In The NFL Draft?
The New Orleans Saints entered the 2013 NFL draft with a lot of holes to fill and only 5 picks. They selected Safety Kenny Vaccaro from Texas in the first round. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. had Vaccaro rated as the best safety in the draft. Their second round pick was forfeited in the “Bounty” scandal, and they traded their seventh round pick.
Head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have displayed a knack for mining free agency and the lower rounds. Marques Colston was selected in the 7th round of the 2006 draft. Pierre Thomas & Chris Ivory were both undrafted free agents. Ivory led the team in rushing a couple years ago. He’s just been traded to the Jets for a fourth round pick. Payton & Loomis are hoping they’ve found late round “steals” in Oklahoma wideout Kenny Stills Jr. and Tarleton State defensive end Rufus Johnson. They were drafted in the 5th & 6th rounds respectively.
I’ve kind of been trained that real good football players come from everywhere. Certainly more of them come from the larger conferences. That being said, there’s no science to this draft. -Sean Payton
Stills is the son of former NFL safety Kenny Stills. His 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine was 4.38. He was named All-Big 12 with 82 receptions for 959 yards and 11 touchdowns. He grew up in San Diego and ran routes for Drew Brees during offseason workouts. His 204 receptions rank third in Oklahoma history.
Johnson is 6-foot-5, 272-lbs. He played at Division II Tarleton State in Texas. He had 50 tackles in 2012, with 17.5 tackles for losses, 10 of them were sacks. He was the Lone Star Conference defensive lineman of the year.
Our coaching staff has shown the ability to take players with special skills and find a way to fit them in. We are not limited to big schools. We’re looking at some of the smaller schools and guys that have been productive at schools that are under the radar. -Mickey Loomis
The Saints will also bring 13 undrafted free agents to camp. Let’s hope their good fortune with finding unheralded, productive players continues.