The Saints have found some key contributors in the unlikeliest places. Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and a scouting staff headed up by Ryan Pace and Rick Reiprish go to great lengths (and a lot of small schools) to find talent and then give them an opportunity. Here are the best of the best small-school finds of Payton’s eight-year tenure:
Marques Colston: Wide receiver, Hofstra, 2006 (seventh round/252nd overall). Has 607 receptions, 8,337 yards and 63 touchdowns in his career.
Jahri Evans: Guard, Bloomsburg State, 2006 (fourth round/108th overall). Four-time All-Pro has been to five straight Pro Bowls.
Jermon Bushrod: Tackle, Towson State, 2007 (fourth round/125th overall). Was two-time Pro Bowl pick at left tackle in 2011 and ’12.
Akiem Hicks: Defensive end, Regina (Canada), 2012 (third round/89th overall). Had 72 tackles, 4.5 sacks in first year as a starter in 2013.
Terron Armstead: Tackle, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 2013 (third round/75th overall). Highly regarded prospect is the future at left tackle spot.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
Junior Galette: Outside linebacker, Stillman College, 2010. Speedy pass-rusher recorded 12 sacks as a starter in 2013.
Chris Ivory: Running back, Tiffin College, 2010. Had his moments when he wasn’t hurt, and was traded to Jets.
Joseph Morgan: Wide receiver, Walsh University, 2011. Two knee injuries have hampered speedy wideout’s progress.
Travaris Cadet: Running back, Appalachian State, 2012. Has played sparingly in backfield, also returns kickoffs.
Tyrunn Walker: Defensive end, Tulsa, 2012. New Iberia native has seen spot duty in defensive line rotation.
Khiry Robinson: Running back, West Texas A&M, 2013. Rushed for 224 yards in regular season, 102 yards in playoffs.
Tim Lelito: Guard/center, Grand Valley State, 2013. A guard by trade, he could get shot to earn starting center job.
Josh Hill: Tight end, Idaho State, 2013. Used mostly as extra blocker, he caught six passes for 44 yards.
— Sheldon Mickles