There likely will be more, but at the very minimum, the Saints are hosting one wide receiver who many think could be selected late in the first round of the 2014 draft in May.
USC’s Marqise Lee told the program Pro Football Talk Live he has visits set up with New Orleans and its NFC South rival, the Carolina Panthers. The Saints have the 27th overall pick of the upcoming draft, and the Panthers have the 28th.
Lee also said he’s worked out privately for “a couple of teams” but didn’t disclose who they were.
The 6-foot, 192-pound Lee caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012 and won the Biletnikoff Award for best receiver in the nation. His quarterback was Matt Barkley.
But his numbers were significantly less impressive his junior year with the Trojans: 57 grabs, 791 yards and four scores during a campaign in which coach Lane Kiffin was fired after five games.
Lee blamed his drop in production on leg injuries that kept him out of three games. “I didn’t have my full on season from that end,” he said to PFT Live.
He also mentioned the battle for starting quarterback at the beginning of the 2013 campaign between Cody Kessler (who won) and Max Wittek (the backup) as a negative factor. “Even that was kind of a struggle as far as getting that repetition and getting that flow with the quarterback,” Lee remarked.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Lee clocked a 40-yard dash of 4.52 seconds — the fastest time in the event among wideouts was 4.33, and the slowest was 4.75. His broad jump of 10 feet, 7 inches was the best at his position.
According to CBSSports.com draft pundit Rob Rang, one of Lee’s top strengths is explosive straight-line speed that makes it difficult for cornerbacks to press him. Weaknesses are his slight frame and the fact that he struggled with injuries in 2013, “raising legitimate questions about his ability to remain healthy against NFL competition,” Rang wrote.
The Saints for now only have three receivers with meaningful NFL experience: veteran Marques Colston, second-year player Kenny Stills and third-year player Joe Morgan (who’s missed two of his seasons with knee injuries).
Tulane medal for Brees
Tulane will honor Saints quarterback Drew Brees with a President’s Medal at the university’s 2014 commencement ceremony the morning of May 17, the school announced Friday.
The award will recognize the former Super Bowl MVP’s work with the Brees Dream Foundation, which has donated more than $20 million to charitable causes and academic institutions in New Orleans, where he’s played since 2006; San Diego, where his NFL career began in 2001; and West Lafayette, Ind., where he attended Purdue in college.
The medal will also laud Brees’ on-field merits. Aside from leading the Saints to their sole Super Bowl championship less than five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and helping the team capture three division titles, he is the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 5,000 yards in four separate seasons.
No other league quarterback has had more than one such season.
Another President’s Medal recipient at Tulane’s commencement will be renowned jazz clarinetist and university alum Michael White. The President’s Medal recognizes individuals who have contributed to the well-being of New Orleans.
Saints Hall hosting benefits
The 23rd annual edition of a golf tournament whose proceeds benefit the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame will be May 19, the team said this week.
Meanwhile, officials have set a Hall of Fame reception and auction for May 18 that will do the same.
The Saints Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic will start May 19 at 9 a.m. at Chateau Golf and Country Club in Kenner. Participants are supposed to include Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis, Saints players, assistant coaches, team Hall of Fame inductees and other team alums.
Restaurants and caterers will be at all 18 holes, at the check-in area and at a post-event awards ceremony, the Saints said.
Groups of five — four individuals plus a Saints celebrity — can participate for a cost of $1,500; or it’s $1,200 for a foursome, the team said. Individuals are $300, and everything is on a first-come, first-serve basis. All participants will receive a Saints golf shirt and cap.
Checks as well as the names and contact information of participants can be mailed to the Saints Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 640394; Kenner, LA, 70064-0394.
As for the Fox 8 Saints Hall of Fame Reception/Auction, that will be May 18 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the team indoor facility and cafeteria off Airline Drive in Metairie. Pigeon Caterers, Impastato’s Restaurant and Bud Light will provide all-you-can-eat food and drink at the event, and patrons will have the chance to take pictures with Payton, the Super Bowl XLIV trophy and others.
There will be about 20 auction items, among them Saints memorabilia, tickets to upcoming games, sideline passes, jerseys and a restaurant package.
The cost is $50, and it’s payable by check to the aforementioned mailing address.
The Saints Hall of Fame is located at Gate B on the Plaza Level of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. For more information, call Ken Trahan at 504.471.2192 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Beckham visiting Bills, Jets
Former LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has set up pre-draft visits with the Bills and Jets this week, according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt. The Bills pick ninth overall, and the Jets select 19th.