by SHELDON MICKLES
January 27, 2013
The New Orleans Saints are scheduled to have a pick in the top half of the first round of the NFL draft for the first time since 2009 when they select 15th this spring.
The Saints, who finished 7-9 this season, were in a five-way tie for the 11th-worst mark in the league. But they were pushed to the bottom of that group — which also includes San Diego, Miami, Tampa Bay and Carolina — on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.
Saints’ opponents this season posted a 133-122-1 record for a .521 winning percentage.
San Diego (.457 opponents’ winning percentage) got the 11th pick, followed by Miami (.500), Tampa Bay (.502) and Carolina (.516).
The Saints’ last pick in the top half of the first round was free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was taken with the 14th overall selection in 2009 after the Saints went 8-8 in 2008.
The draft will be held April 25-27 in New York City.
Saints sign five
The Saints have signed five players who finished the season on their practice squad.
All five — defensive end Braylon Broughton, wide receivers Jarred Fayson and Andy Tanner, guard Ryan Lee and cornerback Ryan Steed — were signed to two-year deals.
The NFL on Monday released an updated calendar for the 2013 league year, which will begin on Tuesday, March 12 at 3 p.m. CST.
For the first time, at least officially anyway, teams will have a three-day window from March 9-11 in which they can negotiate with certified agents of players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Other key dates are the deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the draft (Jan. 15), the scouting combine (Feb. 20-26) and the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents (March 12).