Kristian: Saints rookies take the field
The Saints take the field! Well the rookies will at least. The Black and Gold will hold their annual rookie mini camp at team headquarters this weekend. All five of the club's draft picks will be in attendance, along with 18 undrafted rookie free agents and try out players. This can be an eye opening experience for the rookies. Former Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem struggled in his first mini camp, namely with the conditioning aspect. The coaches will indoctrinate the rookies on how to practice at the NFL level.
"I feel like my god given ability, and everything I've trained for is to be a part of the National Football League," 3rd round pick defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said. Hicks along with 4th round pick Nick Toon are the cream of the rookie class for the Black and Gold this season.
In addition to the draft class, the Saints will have 18 rookie free agents in camp including former Destrehan prep standout Jerico Nelson. The former Arkansas Razorback knows he's going to have to impress on special teams if he wants to stick around. "I've played special teams before, so it's something I'm used to, but they have so much talent at the safety position. That's going to have to be my niche," Nelson explained.
The Saints place an increased value on players that can play special teams, and as we've seen in the past they're not concerned with how a player arrived on their team. Whether it's as a free agent or draft pick, if they're good enough, they'll make the team.
Keep an eye on reports about Braylon Brougton (TCU DE/OLB). Broughton was a three-year letterman for the Horned Frogs, playing in 42 games with five starts over his collegiate career. The Dallas native had career totals of 45 tackles (32 solo), 9.5 stops for a loss, three sacks, three pass defenses, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one blocked kick. As a senior in 2011, Broughton appeared in 13 games and started five games for the Rose Bowl Champions, leading TCU with six tackles for a loss as he recorded 25 stops (12 solo) overall, two sacks and one blocked kick. He's huge at 6 ft 7 and can really get after the passer. This is my early dark horse to make the roster.
Defensive End Tyrunn Walker is another local player that has a shot to impress coaches. Walker is a New Iberia native, who started his career at Jones County (Miss.) Junior College. After transferring to Tulsa, he started in all 26 career games. He totaled 84 tackles, 25.5 stops for a loss and 13.5 sacks, 11 pass defenses, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.