METAIRIE — After addressing a need with their first pick of the NFL draft in the third round Friday night, the New Orleans Saints did what they normally do in the latter rounds on Saturday.
Armed with single selections in the fourth through sixth rounds when the draft resumed Saturday morning, the Saints added depth at three areas — including two on offense.
After taking University of Regina defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, a 6-foot-4, 324-pounder, on Friday night, they looked more to the offensive side of the ball with three of their final four picks.
They chose Wisconsin wide receiver Nick Toon in the fourth round, got Samford cornerback Corey White in the fifth and grabbed two mammoth offensive linemen in Syracuse guard Andrew Tiller and Nebraska tackle Marcel Jones in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively.
Each of those picks will be expected to initially provide depth for a team that had few holes to plug going into the draft, thanks to previous drafts and veteran free agency.
“We think we’re a pretty good football team, and so, it kind of gets to the point now where you don’t have to reach for a need,” said assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who has assumed the day-to-day duties of suspended head coach Sean Payton. “We’ve done a great job in the offseason with unrestricted free agency, so we had a pool of about 18 players that we thought would potentially be there in the third and fourth round.
“They were there, and again, we didn’t reach on anybody,” he added. “We let the board come to us and maintained the discipline of the draft.”
The Saints drafted a potential replacement for departed wide receiver Robert Meachem when they picked up Toon, the son of former New York Jets’ three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Al Toon.
At 6-2 and 215 pounds, the younger Toon doesn’t possess blazing speed. But Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said Toon’s range and hands remind him of star wide receiver Marques Colston.
“We just looked at the board and he was the best available to us, so the thing about him is that he’s a real smart guy who can play more than one position for us,” Carmichael said. “We can put him inside or outside. As a player, he has those abilities, as well as being able to run at those positions.”
Toon, who averaged 14.3 yards per catch during his career at Wisconsin with 2,447 yards and 18 touchdowns on 171 receptions, could work himself into the mix early.
The Saints are looking for a replacement for Meachem, who left in free agency, to team with Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore.
They went back to the defensive side to take White, a player who wasn’t highly regarded as a strong safety prospect. But he played the last three seasons at cornerback, which is where the Saints will try him.
While he was projected as a safety, the Saints like the 6-0, 206-pound White at corner because of his size and speed after he clocked a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day workout. He also had a 371/2-inch vertical leap at the scouting combine.
In addition, they have only three cornerbacks on the roster in Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson and Johnny Patrick after losing Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence in free agency.
“He’s a little bigger corner and we think he could have the opportunity to play some nickel,” Vitt said. “He did that earlier in his career, so we’re excited about him.”
The Saints grabbed two huge offensive linemen with their final two picks.
They got Tiller, a 6-5, 334-pounder who was selected to the All-Big East coaches’ team last season, in the sixth round, and came back in the seventh round to tab Jones, a 6-6, 320-pounder who excelled both as a run blocker and pass protector at Nebraska.
Tiller comes to New Orleans with a solid recommendation from Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who was the Saints offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 2006-08.
“(Marrone) likes this prospect. He knows what we want here and feels that would be a fit for us,” Vitt said before turning his attention to Jones. “At this point in the draft, we took some height, weight, speed, a guy that had some intangibles we think can lend to our football team.”
After making their final selection, the Saints began working to sign undrafted free agents with a goal of getting about 18 signed in time to join the draftees at the team’s rookie minicamp scheduled for May 11-13.