• 2016 schedule to come

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 →

Saints notebook: Sources say defensive lineman Tavaris Barnes, safety Vinnie Sunseri cut loose

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints defensive end Tavaris Barnes (90) tussles with New England Patriots guard Cameron Fleming (71) and New England Patriots tight end Asante Cleveland (44) in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.

The Saints released second-year defensive lineman Tavaris Barnes, a source told The Advocate on Monday. Barnes was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson after last year’s draft. And in something of a surprise, he made the team coming out of training camp. Used mostly as a backup at the 5-technique… Continue reading →

Nick Underhill: Until Saints nail down plan for life after Drew Brees, they must keep looking at quarterbacks

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) passes as Mississippi defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton (56) rushes in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Last year, when the Saints were working out quarterbacks, the team tried its best to make sure it flew under the radar. Measures were taken to time the trip when no one would be looking. It helped that there was a storm that caused a lot of flights to be canceled the day coach Sean Payton and team brass… Continue reading →

‘No weaknesses’: James Laurinaitis is ready to show the Saints he’s as tough as they come

AP file photo by L.G. PATTERSON -- Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis places his hand on his chest before the start of a game between the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 17.

James Laurinaitis has never felt so limited before. His right arm felt useless. Laurinaitis couldn’t straighten his arm or bend it all the way, couldn’t bench-press, couldn’t press any kind of weight, couldn’t play the way he’s been playing his whole life. Laurinaitis had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow in Week 6 against the Cleveland… Continue reading →

Nick Underhill’s analysis: Recent trades could help Saints land a defensive standout with their first draft pick

Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

The wild lead-up to the NFL draft could be setting a more favorable table for the New Orleans Saints. With the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles trading up for the first two picks, it seems safe to assume that California quarterback Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz will be the first players selected… Continue reading →

Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo hopes to go early in draft

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2015 file photo, Florida State place kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) points up after kicking a 43-yard field goal against Florida during the first half of an NCAA college football game, in Gainesville, Fla. Aguayo, who is the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, could be the first kicker in 10 years to be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

A lot of NFL teams would rather avoid using a draft pick on a place-kicker. No matter how many games end with a kicker standing over a field goal and a chance to win, the position can be so fickle that teams want to use their precious draft picks on players who handle half… Continue reading →

Safety prospect Darian Thompson long on intangibles

Associated Press photo by OTTO KITSINGER -- UL-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire runs the ball against Boise State safety Darian Thompson during the first half of Saturday's game in Boise, Idaho. The Broncos won 34-9.

Evaluating production vs. potential is the never-ending struggle of the NFL draft. Every year, teams find prospects who don’t test off the charts athletically, but turn into Pro Bowlers with a combination of instincts and smarts. By the same token, teams take players with underwhelming production at the collegiate level who turn into Pro Bowlers after unlocking their… Continue reading →

Nick Underhill: Saints must build depth at safety

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) intercepts a two point conversion before being tackled against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015.

Losing Rafael Bush might have been one of the more underrated hits of the offseason. The safety was injured the last two seasons, so it would be overstating things to say this was a massive blow for the Saints, but it still hurts on paper. Because on paper, the prospect of a healthy Bush meant New Orleans had… Continue reading →

Nick Underhill: Lots of ‘ifs’ for Saints at cornerback

Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci -- Trainers check Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis after he injured his knee against the Redskins on Sunday in Landover, Md.

The New Orleans Saints might have decent depth at cornerback. They also might be dangerously thin at the position. That issue is one the team needs to sort through before the draft to determine if there is a need for an influx of talent and depth or if things are set here. On paper, if everyone is healthy,… Continue reading →