by Tommy Lawlor – ScoutsNotebook.com
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
1 – CB Patrick Robinson – Florida State
2 – OT Charles Brown – USC
3 – TE Jimmy Graham – Miami
4 – DT Al Woods – LSU
5 – OC Matt Tennant – Boston College
7 – QB Sean Canfield – Oregon State
The Super Bowl Champion Saints (still sounds kinda weird for people like me that grew up watching the Aints) started their draft by taking CB Patrick Robinson from Florida State. Gutsy pick. Robinson has all the potential in the world, but drove his coaches at FSU crazy with his inconsistency. If you have an off-day against Boston College and struggle…what the heck are you go when you have a bad game in the NFL? Guys like Robinson scare me to death. He struggled against Florida. Gators pass catchers (WRs and even TE Aaron Hernandez) were taking turns beating him that day. Watching Robinson at the Senior Bowl was just the opposite. He showed outstanding physical ability. He was athletic and had the best footwork of any CB in Mobile. Then he went to the Combine and was inconsistent again. Ugh.
The Saints felt like Robinson was too talented to pass on. They can work through his issues with lots of coaching. You can always coach a player, but you can’t make a player more talented. And the Saints haven’t been afraid to take chances in the last 5 years. They’ve rolled the dice on some players. Things obviously worked out pretty well last year. Robinson will help right away. He can be the #3 CB as a rookie. His presence also allows last year’s 1st rounder Malcolm Jenkins to permanently shift to Safety. This should improve the overall depth and quality of the Saints secondary.
In the 2nd round New Orleans took OT Charles Brown from USC. He was excellent value at the bottom of the 2nd. Jermon Bushrod is the LT for now and Jon Stinchcomb is the RT. Brown could take either spot in the future. He has a good frame at 6’5, 303. He’s also got long arms. Brown isn’t a great pass protector, but is good enough to play LT for a team like the Saints. Drew Brees gets the ball out quickly. He’s also mobile. That means that the LT doesn’t have to be a shutdown pass blocker. It would also help if the Saints continued to run the ball like they did in 2009. That kind of offensive balance makes it easier on all the O-linemen. Brown is a solid run blocker. Brown gives the Saints good depth for 2010 and should become a starter in a year or two.
The rich get richer. The explosive Saints offense got another weapon when they took TE Jimmy Graham in the 3rd. He only played football for one year at Miami, but Graham has all the potential in the world. He is 6’6, 260. Talented, natural athlete with good hands and agility. He had a great showing at the Combine. The only thing Graham lacks is experience. He is going to a great place for a guy with his background. He can learn from veteran TE Jeremy Shockey. He gets to play for a great offensive mind in Sean Payton. And he will have one of the best QBs in the league throwing him the ball. Graham joins a deep, talented offense and that means there won’t be pressure on him to deliver results in 2010. He can contribute as a role player this year and focus on learning for the future. Graham has enough upside that he could be a star player in a few years, especially based on where he went. They’ll find a way to use him and get the most out of him.
In the 4th round the Saints took DT Al Woods of LSU. Woods grew on me the more I studied him. He wasn’t overly flashy or incredibly productive. Woods just got the job done. He’s got a good build at 6’4, 309. He’s strong enough to hold the point of attack on run plays. He can push the pocket on pass plays. Woods can be a 2-gap DT, but does have enough quickness to be effective when allowed to attack upfield. He was good value in the 4th round and should be able to contribute as a rookie.
New Orleans took Boston College Center Matt Tennant in the 5th round. The Saints have a couple of veterans already in place in Nick Leckey and starting C Jonathan Goodwin. Tennant is there to battle Leckey for the backup job and to add some youth. Matt is a typical BC overachiever. He’s not the biggest player or best athlete, but he’s tough and ultra-competitive. He’s got the intangibles and skillset to be a good starting C. At the least, Matt should become a solid backup. He can play G or C. He’s a good run blocker. He’s a very effective short area player. I was surprised Tennant slid all the way to the 5th round. I had him rated as the #2 C and thought for sure he’d go in the 3rd or 4th round.
There was no pick in the 6th round. In the 7th the Saints took QB Sean Canfield from Oregon State. Canfield is an interesting player. At times he looked really good. Other times his arm strength looked questionable and Sean came across more as a college overachiever. The Saints have a hole at backup QB. Behind Brees they have Chase Daniel and Canfield…that’s it. I don’t think Daniel has the physical tools to make it in the NFL. Obviously the Saints feel different. Canfield does have pro ability, but I sure don’t think of him as NFL ready. He’s got 20+ starts spread over 3 seasons, but only started one full season. Canfield is a good fit for the Saints system, although I do question his ability to throw the deep ball. Canfield is an accurate passer and isn’t afraid to throw into tight coverage. Brees does that all the time, especially to Marques Colston. You have to give your receivers a chance to make a play for you. Canfield doesn’t always handle pressure well. There are times he panics and forces the ball. That will have to change for him to succeed in the NFL. Sean has a great mentor in Brees and a great coach in Payton. A young QB would have a hard time asking for a better situation.