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Meet 19 undrafted rookie free agents Saints add to squad

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- The University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Dominique Tovell runs the forty yard dash during Pro Day on Wednesday at the Moncla Indoor Practice Facility. Pro Day allows NFL team scouts to check out the abilities hopeful Ragin' Cajun football players looking to get drafted.

The Saints worked the market of undrafted players hard to acquire a handful of players to compete for roster spots during training camp. The team announced on Monday it signed 19 rookie free agents following the draft. The largest areas of focus were on the offensive line and the defensive backfield. On the offensive line, the team added BYU… Continue reading →

Nick Underhill’s analysis: Saints’ selection of David Onyemata reinforces a key point: Don’t rush to judgment on draft picks

Photo provided by Manitoba  Sports Information Department -- The New Orleans Saints selected Manitoba defensive tackle David Onyemata at No. 120 overall in the draft on Saturday April 30, 2016.

The draft, by nature, is a market full of unknown commodities. You can work to eliminate some of the guesswork and come to what seems like a sensible conclusion. You can rule things out and side with other things you like. But you walk away with a stack of mystery boxes, and it will take a few… Continue reading →

David Onyemata’s remarkable journey from Nigeria to the NFL lands Canadian star in New Orleans

University of Manitoba Bisons defensive tackle David Onyemata runs a drill for NFL scouts in Winnipeg, Man. Monday March 14, 2016. Brian Donogh/Winnipeg Sun/Postmedia Network

Five years ago, a soft knock at his office door interrupted Brian Dobie’s phone conversation. The University of Manitoba football coach turned to his left and immediately forgot about the phone call. A massive young man loomed in his doorway like an eclipse, a man Dobie instantly found himself hoping was a prospect he’d never met.… Continue reading →

Saints draft notebook: Cal RB Daniel Lasco is team’s fifth and final pick

Cal running back Daniel Lasco

The New Orleans Saints finished their draft class Saturday by taking California running back Daniel Lasco with their fifth and final pick, a seventh-round selection. Lasco faces a crowded Saints backfield that already includes Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller, Tim Hightower, Marcus Murphy and Travaris Cadet, leaving Lasco looking at an uphill battle to get carries. But… Continue reading →

At a glance: Daniel Lasco, Saints’ seventh-round pick

Cal running back Daniel Lasco

Height: 6-0, Weight: 209, Round: 7, Pick: 16 (237) Who is he: Born and raised in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston, Lasco is a two-time team captain at California who rushed for 1,115 yards, caught 33 passes for 356 yards and scored 12 touchdowns as… Continue reading →

Keep track of all the Saints' post-draft signings

A list of players who are signing with the Saints:

OL Ryker Mathews, BYU
CB De’Vante Harris, Texas A&M
G Landon Turner, North Carolina
WR Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
CB Ken Crawley, Colorado
OT Avery Young, Auburn
C Marcus Henry, Boise State
LB Dillon Lee, Alabama
TE Mitchell Loewen, Arkansas

Continue reading →

Saints finish off draft by taking California running back Daniel Lasco

California running back Daniel Lasco runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings/AP)

The New Orleans Saints finished off their draft class on Saturday by taking California running back Daniel Lasco with their fifth and final pick, a seventh-round selection. Lasco faces a crowded Saints backfield that already includes Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller, Tim Hightower, Marcus Murphy and Travaris Cadet, leaving Lasco looking at a steep, uphill battle to get… Continue reading →

At a glance: David Onyemata, the Saints’ fourth-round pick

West defensive end James Cowser (53), of Southern Utah, and defensive end David Onyemata (97), of Manitoba, sack East quarterback Jake Rudock (10), of Michigan, during the fourth quarter of the East West Shrine football game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Defending for the East is Taylor Fallin (77) of Memphis. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

David Onyemata, DT, University of Manitoba Height: 6-4 Weight: 300 Round: 4 Pick: 120 WHO HE IS: Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Onyemata had never played football before he moved to Canada five years ago, although he had heard of the sport from classmates who spent time in the United States. Onyemata moved to… Continue reading →

'I wouldn’t have chosen anywhere else:’ Ohio State's Michael Thomas thrilled to be with Saints, Drew Brees

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Michael Thomas (3) scores a touchdown but is called back on a penalty in the second half of the game at Ohio Stadium against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, November 7, 2015 in Columbus. (Columbus Dispatch photo by Leah Klafczynski) ORG XMIT: osu15min

Michael Thomas has had his eye on the New Orleans Saints for a while. Thomas, who met with the Saints at the NFL combine and Ohio State’s pro day, knew the Saints had a need at receiver after they parted ways with Marques Colston. And the last time he played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, he caught… Continue reading →

Nick Underhill: Is Michael Thomas a luxury for the Saints? Perhaps, but the receiving corps could use a boost

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Michael Thomas (3) scores a touchdown after a catch against Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first quarter during the Fiesta Bowl in the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016.  (Columbus Dispatch photo by Kyle Robertson)

Sometimes, the best way to protect your defense is by adding offense. There’s logic behind the argument that the Saints should have used their first two or three picks on defensive players. The group was among the worst in the league in most statistical categories. But there’s also logic in ensuring your offense can put up points week after… Continue reading →

Saints coach Sean Payton on Laremy Tunsil tumbling, Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack, staying put at No. 12

AP file photo: New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watches from the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars in New Orleans.

Expect the unexpected is the unofficial motto of the NFL draft. But on Thursday night, the New Orleans Saints did their part to stick to the script. Widely expected to target a defensive player, coach Sean Payton and the front office tabbed Louisiville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins with the No. 12 overall pick. Payton spoke late… Continue reading →

Saints first-round pick Sheldon Rankins, at a glance

Louisville's Sheldon Rankins (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Sheldon Rankins Defensive Tackle, Louisville Height: 6-1, Weight: 299; Round: 1, Pick: 12 Who is he: A two-time captain for Louisville, Rankins was highly productive, piling up 18 sacks, including 14 in his final two seasons, and he also produced 111 tackles in those two seasons, along with two interceptions and a… Continue reading →

Rod Walker: Lots to like about Saints first-round pick Sheldon Rankins — even though he grew up rooting for the Falcons

Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins runs a drill at the NFL Combine. The New Orleans Saints drafted Rankins No. 12 overall.

Sheldon Rankins seems to have been the perfect choice for the Saints on Thursday night. As Sean Payton said, “he checks all the boxes.” He’s big. He’s explosive. He makes a living in the backfield. He is a hard worker, a trait he says he inherited from his mom (a school teacher) and his grandparents.… Continue reading →

New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis doesn’t divulge much before the NFL draft — but the front office has a wealth of options

Mickey Loomis loves the element of surprise on draft day. With reports swirling about nearly every team’s intentions, and deliberate misinformation leaked to the public in order to muddy the perception of all of those intentions, there’s a lot of projection and prediction to sift through as the Saints head into the 2016 NFL draft with the… Continue reading →

A computer, two Advocate writers and a mock NFL draft. See whom the New Orleans Saints came out with in the first three rounds.

2016 NFL football draft prospects gather around Annish Kapoor's stainless steel Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as "The Bean," for photos at Millennium Park, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato) ORG XMIT: ILKS101

By the time draft day arrives, hundreds of mock drafts have been released, and the best might get only nine picks right. Rather than trying to predict the whims of 32 teams, Advocate sportswriters Nick Underhill and Joel A. Erickson decided to play the role of the Saints’ top two decision-makers instead, reacting in the moment to the options… Continue reading →

Who will be the New Orleans’ Saints pick at No. 12? Any of these five would be good fits.

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, Clemson defensive lineman Shaq Lawson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File) ORG XMIT: NY163

Linebacker, UCLA Jack, widely considered one of the best players in the draft has it all. He’s powerful, athletic and versatile, capable of covering running backs, tight ends and slot receivers in today’s game. But the reason he might be available is also the reason he could give the Saints pause; teams have to clear his… Continue reading →

How do national writers see the Saints’ No. 12 pick?

Under normal circumstances, mock drafts usually have trouble agreeing on any pick beyond the top 5, but the brains have a clear consensus for what the Saints will do with the No. 12 pick. Nearly every expert is picking Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to New Orleans. But that might mean Rankins is the man to bet… Continue reading →

How good did the New Orleans Saints do in the 2013 draft? Three years later, it’s time to take the full view.

Ask a team about its most recent draft class, and you’ll be told it’s too soon to draw conclusions. The players need time to develop, learn the system and become professional players. They need time to adjust to the adjustments teams are making to exploit their weaknesses. It takes time for everything to come out in the wash… Continue reading →

What do the New Orleans Saints need in the NFL draft? Here are six big needs.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) on the sideline against the New York Jets during an NFL football game in Detroit, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski) ORG XMIT: _OZA6797.jpg

New Orleans signed Nick Fairley, but he’s a boom-or-bust vet on a one-year deal, and nose tackle John Jenkins is also entering the final year of his rookie contract. Beyond the expiring contracts, the Saints desperately need somebody who can provide a consistent pass rush from the interior. In the Saints’ 4-3, that means a freakishly… Continue reading →

Drew Brees, Sean Payton talk contract, draft at Zurich Classic Pro-Am: 'there’s a lot of trust on both sides'

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) next to New Orleans Saints quarterback Garrett Grayson (18) against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015.

Sean Payton and Drew Brees got a respite of sorts Wednesday from two of the biggest stories surrounding the New Orleans Saints organization this week — the NFL draft that begins Thursday night and Brees’ contract extension. For the second year in a row, Payton and Brees were on the same team in the Zurich… Continue reading →

Saints GM Mickey Loomis on pursuing star cornerback Josh Norman, cutting Vinnie Sunseri, keeping Kenny Vaccaro

At his pre-NFL draft news conference New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis touched on several popular topics recently with the team. Loomis said the team saw Josh Norman as a target of opportunity when the Carolina Panthers surprised the NFL by rescinding his franchise tag last week, instantly making the All-Pro a free agent. Continue reading →

Drew Brees: If Saints see future franchise QB 'then by all means, draft him'

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) warms up before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Drew Brees asserts that his contract talks with the New Orleans Saints hasn't hampered the club's ability to acquire top free agents this offseason because he is committed to negotiating an extension that would improve the Saints' financial flexibility. The quarterback said in an interview with the Associated Press that he was "on board" with New Orleans' recent bid to sign… Continue reading →

Reports swirl on possible Saints’ moves

Associated Press file photo by Butch Dill -- Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, the third-rated signal-caller in the NFL draft, is the subject of various reports on possible drafat-day trades the Saints could make.

The New Orleans Saints found themselves at the center of a flurry of pre-draft reports Tuesday speculating that the team might still be looking for Drew Brees’ heir apparent at quarterback. Early in the day, the NFL Network reported the Saints discussed trading up to get the No. 1 pick that went to the Los Angeles Rams… Continue reading →