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Kristian Garic

Wake up to live, local sports talks with Kristian and T-Bob Hebert on "Double Coverage!" 

Weekdays 6am-9am on 3WL 1350-AM

Twitter: @kristiangaric1
Email: kristian@3wl1350.com


Kristian: Saints kicking it with two unproven kickers

Several positions on the Saints roster received a makeover this off-season, and the kicking position ended up being no different. Shayne Graham was released last week after two seasons with the team.

The Saints liked what they saw in Zach Hocker and Dustin Hopkins enough to part ways with Graham: "It's kind of difficult to have a competition with three kickers. We were not going to do that. And after the rookie minicamp we felt real confident about how (Zach) Hocker worked and made that decision. We will see how they do," coach Sean Payton explained.

Hopkins was added to the roster (practice squad) towards the end of last season, and Hocker impressed during the rookie mini camp. Payton offered "We kind of know the backgrounds of certain players, but it was once we had him and looked at it, it was after that evaluation." Hopkins and Hocker both have big legs but lack the experience of kicking in pressure-packed situations, but so did the recently waived Shayne Graham until someone gave him a chance.

Payton also added that the intention wasn't necessarily to get 'younger' at the kicking position. "I like the idea of just a good kicker at that position whether or not he is young. I am not partial to his age, I am not partial to whether he is tall, short, fat... I like the idea of not having to worry about the new rule change at 15 yards. Hopefully we can see what we get from these two guys."

It's been a position of constant change for Sean Payton and the Saints his 2006, the Saints have used seven different kickers.
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Saints' Vaccaro played entire 2014 season with torn hamstring

Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro had a bad sophomore season in 2014, after a solid rookie campaign in 2013. Vaccaro was caught out of position at times and missed several tackles. He even saw his snap count reduced later in the season, in what he and coach Payton failed to term as a demotion when it was clearly just that.

Vaccaro revealed today that he played nearly the entire 2014 season with two torn muscles in his leg. "I tore it on the first series of the Atlanta game (Week 1)," he told reporters today. Vaccaro explained the injury as a 'grade two' tear. Vaccaro also added that he tore his quadriceps muscle in the second meeting with Atlanta in week 16. "It sucked," Vaccaro said but refused to offer the injuries as an excuse for his poor play in 2014 "I mean, I was out there and if I'm out there and I'm playing, then I have to execute."

Vaccaro said he spent more time this off-season training and rehabbing. "I started training way earlier this off-season, basically right after the Super Bowl." Last year after a meeting with coach Sean Payton he described as "career changing," Vaccaro said he learned a lot from 2014. "It doesn't matter about talent... a group has to mesh together, and come together with one goal. When you go through a season like that last year, you really study what it takes to win in the off-season," he explained.

Vaccaro's play was disappointing last season, but so was the entire defense, so with that said, if he can rebound with a bounce back year this season the nightmare of 2014 will be a distant memory. Vaccaro also said the coaches have made it very clear that "everyone is competing for their spots this season." That mindset and message has always served the Saints well in the past.
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Kristian: Saints "compete" in OTA, will share Greenbrier with Patriots

Payton's Props: Throughout his time as the Saints head coach, Sean Payton has used baseball bats, cartoons, gas cans, and other items to send messages to his football team. Payton used a clever tool this week as the Saints opened organized team activities deciding to post a sign right outside the locker room visible to the players as they take the practice field.



The sign is about "creating a sense of urgency, and that desire not to let your teammates down sort of thing," Payton said. It's hard not to see the sign as soon as the players leave the locker room - its right in front of their face. Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says the coaches made it "very clear, that everyone is competing for their spot this season."

Visitors for Training Camp: The Saints will hold three joint practices with the New England Patriots in training camp in West Virginia. The Saints and Patriots face off in the pre-season on August 22nd in New Orleans. The Saints and Patriots have worked against each other in two previous training camps. "It can pick up the focus and attention to detail. Typically our experience when we've practiced against New England, we've done a good job of focusing on certain periods. It gives you a different look on offense and defense" Payton explained.

Excuse me. Coach Sean Payton can you help the Saints find N. Compete St?

Posted by WWL Radio on Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Saints were originally scheduled to work against the Houston Texans in training camp before the two teams played in the pre-season on August 30th in New Orleans. The Texans were selected as one of the featured teams on "Hard Knocks" for this season, but Payton said that didn't have anything to do with the decision to not practice with Houston. "We discussed and talked about a second team, the decision was more about getting back into a schedule here in New Orleans. It was really more about our team and what's best for us."

Insert the #Deflategate joke here Saints fans!

Big Ben: The player of the day was clearly tight end Benjamin Watson. Drew Brees connected with the veteran tight end on a long catch and run today during team portion of practice. Brees and Watson connected on several passes throughout the day. "He's a stud, and one of the most respected guys on this team. He's played for a long time, and at a very high level. There is no better guy to have on a team, and no better guy to have at that tight end position," Brees said of Watson after practice. Watson looked really spry today showing great athleticism and speed getting behind the defense on several plays. At 34, Watson still looks like he has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Jones and Coleman: Wide Receivers Seantavious Jones and Brandon Coleman were two players that made the team last year as undrafted free agents, and both look live they've developed heading into their second season. Jones was on the receiving end of several nice plays from Drew Brees, one deep ball down the sideline that went for a thirty plus yard gain. Coleman caught a nice pass down the seam from QB Luke McCown. Coleman outraced defenders to the end zone for the score. Brees says both players recognize the opportunity in front of them. "Light years ahead of where they were compared to last year. You can tell it's just been at the forefront of their mind this entire off-season," he said. Coleman and Jones are players to keep an eye on heading into mini-camp and training camp.

Speed, Speed, and more Speed: Saints running back C.J Spiller was another player that raised eyebrows today at practice. You quickly notice his speed getting to the edge on running plays, but he's so versatile out of the back field as a receiving threat. He's kind of a combo Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Spiller has cat-like quickness like Sproles, and is powerful and sure handed like Thomas.

Notable absentees: Center Max Unger was not at practice today, instead being present for the birth of his child. Rookie QB Garret Grayson is attending the rookie symposium. Defensive Tackle Broderick Bunkley was also not at practice. Payton didn't offer a reason as to Bunkley's absence. Running Back Mark Ingram also sat out with what Payton described as a minor foot/ankle injury. "We just backed off the reps," Payton said.

Junior Galette: Last season Junior Galette was a liability against the run, and his role was reduced to passing downs, and it was interesting to see him in the same role during the installation of the base defense today. Galette is a tremendous pass rusher but had the tendency to over pursue on running plays. We're in May and clearly there is room for shuffling on the Saints depth chart, but I found it interesting that veteran Anthony Spencer was working with the first team defense in the installation period.
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Kristian: Can LSU make the run to Omaha?

After a dissapointing early exit from the SEC baseball tournament, the Tigers still impressed enough during the regular season to earn the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA baseball tournament. Baton Rouge will host a regional round of the tournament for the twenty-third time.

LSU fans might be salty about UCLA securing the No. 1 seed overall, but keep in mind a No. 1 seed hasn't won the national championship since 1999. When you're a top 8 national seed it hardly matters where you're seeded, especially when you have the home field advantage the Tigers do at the Box. UCLA is 42 and 14 on the season, the Tigers finished 48-10.

The Regional Teams are set up nice for LSU, hosting Lehigh, Tulane, and UNC Wilmington in the first round. If the Tigers advance to the Super Regional, they'll be paired against one of four teams in a best of three series; Houston, Rice, ULL and Houston Baptiste. Not to get oto far ahead of ourselves, but a Super Regional series between ULL and LSU would be awesome. The top 8 national seeds are: #1 UCLA, #2 LSU, #3 Louisville, #4 Florida, #5 Miami, #6 Illinois, #7 TCU, and #8 Missouri State.

Here is why I like the Tigers' chances to make a run to Omaha in the CWS; there is no other college baseball environment that can top Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. LSU is at home for the Regional and Super Regional, and every year the Tigers have made the trip to the CWS they've done so on the momentum of playing at home. LSU has a veteran defense and hitting line up. The Tigers are mashing the ball as a team, hitting .321 for the season.

Of the every day players, Jared Foster has the lowest batting average at .294. Hitting will be crucial in this tournament, and the magic numbers are between 6 and 9 runs per game. The Tigers are 29-2 in games when they score six ore more runs. More importantly, the Tigers have to get off to a fast start - they're unbeaten this season when they've scored in the first inning.

Now, there is some caution with this Tiger team, or some reason to be somewhat concerned that the Tigers won't make it to Omaha. The bullpen has been a trouble spot for LSU this season, and they've overcome those shortcomings because of a solid hitting line up. If the Tigers can't gain consistency with relievers they could be in trouble.

What's more, Jared Poche has struggled in his last two outings as a starter, and that could spell trouble in a three game Super Regional series. The good thing is all of what ails the Tigers is fixable - it's not a major weakness that they're trying to patch up. I fully expect the Tigers to navigate the regional and super regional round and into Omaha. At that point, it's anyone's tournament, and the Tigers are in a good spot to make a deep run in the post-season. LSU is in search of their first national championship since the 2009 season. The Tigers last trip to Omaha in 2013 resulted in two games and out, hopefully it will be different this time around.
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Saints CB Lewis: "Everyone is holding themselves accountable"

The Saints have a logjam at cornerback heading into OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp. Keenan Lewis has been the most consistant factor in the secondary during his two seasons with the team, and he's also the longest tenured player at corner.

He's gone from prized free agent pick up to a valued leader this off-season: "I'll take that role, I have to step up and show them the ropes. I'm ready for the challenge. I push them every day to be the best player that they can be." Brandon Browner was added this off-season to play opposite of Lewis, but there are a number of players that are fighting for time in the sub packages on defense, including Delvin Breaux. "You are definitely going to hear from him. I can promise you he's going to be a starter in this league this year," Lewis said of Breaux.

FULL AUDIO: Keenan Lewis talks to Kristian and T-Bob on "Double Coverage"

Rookies P.J. Williams and Damian Swann were also added to the mix of an extremely crowded lot of cornerbacks. Veterans Kyle Wilson, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Brian Dixon, Terrence Frederick are among the other players that will compete for playing time this season.

Lewis also said the leadership and professionalism has improved: "You can see the change in the team already. We're hanging with each other outside of football. Everybody is holding themselves accountable. I'm excited to see where we go this year!"

Frankly the accountability and maturity lacked severely last season, as the Saints stumbled their way to a 7 and 9 record.
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Saints release K Shayne Graham

A day after Shayne Graham told reporters he was "not worried about competition" at the kicker postion with two other players on the roster, the Saints announced Tuesday that they have released the veteran kicker. Now, Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker will be the two players competing for the Black and Gold kicking duties.

That position has always been a revolving door in the Sean Payton era, and Graham started to lose a litle leg strength last year. Hopkins and Hocker both have strong legs, but lack the experience.

The move doesn't surprise me - you're rolling the dice a little bit, because these guys dont have a proven track record like Shayne, but then again, the team must think highly of Hopkins and Hocker and I would say right how Hopkins praobly has the inside track to get the job.

Here's the full release from the Saints:

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The New Orleans Saints announced Tuesday that they have signed wide receiver Lance Lewis and terminated the contract of kicker Shayne Graham. The announcements were made by Saints' Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.

Lewis, 6-2, 207, comes to New Orleans after spending the entire 2014 campaign on the practice squad of the San Francisco 49ers. Originally signed by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina in 2012, Lewis appeared in three games for the Redskins in 2013 after starting the season on their practice squad and was also on the Dallas Cowboys practice roster for Week 17 of that campaign

The Concord, N.C. native played two seasons at East Carolina and following his senior campaign, ranked first in school record books in touchdown receptions (22), third in receptions (149) and fifth in receiving yardage (1,716).

Graham, 6-0, 210, is a 15-year NFL veteran who was first signed by the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2000 out of Virginia Tech and has played for nine clubs. The 37-year old kicker ranks seventh in NFL record books in field goal accuracy (85.5%), booting 266-of-311 career attempts. Overall, in 173 games, he has scored 1,219 points, tied for 35th in NFL history.

In his first full season with the Saints in 2014, Graham drilled 19-of-22 field goal attempts (86.4%) and finished as the club's leading scorer with 103 points. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October based on his first three games in the month when he converted all nine of his field goal attempts and led conference kickers with 36 points.

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Saints OT Strief: "Andrus Peat is taking my job eventually"

When the Saints selected offensive tackle Zach Strief in the seventh round back in 2006, he was a longshot to make the roster, but almost 10 years later, he's held down the starting right tackle position for nearly half of his tenure in the same role we could see rookie offensive tackle Andrus Peat play this year as the extra offensive lineman and in goal line plays.

Peat was selected 13th overall this past draft, and clearly he was brought in to replace Strief. "He's taking my job eventually, that is happening at some point. My job and role is to make that take as long as possible. At the same time, and the entire time, I will do everything I can to help him do just that. At this point in my career I feel like that is my job," Strief candidly explained. That response from Strief is just another reason why he's such a valuable leader for this franchise.

Saints OT Zach Strief not moving to Guard

Posted by WWL Radio on Monday, May 18, 2015

When the Saints drafted Peat, it lead to speculation the team might look to move Strief to guard. Strief doesn't expect that to happen. "A lot of people don't know how good Tim (Lelito) and Sieno (Kalemente) are, those are two excellent football players. They are going to let those to guys battle it out for that spot, and it's going to be a battle," he added.

Peat's role seams pretty clear to me. He'll provide tremendous depth to the left and right tackle spots, and be the 'swing' offensive tackle should an injury occur and play in the goal line and short yardage sets when the Saints go to their "heavy" formation and bring in an extra offensive lineman. Strief has been around a while and knows how this all works. "I understand I'm not playing forever - I don't know that anything changes this year for me or him (Peat), and maybe it does, but that's fine too, because that is a result of your performance and the fair way is the right way."

The Saints offensive captain also said he's as healthy and in the best shape of his career going into this season. "My role is to play the best football I can play, be a leader, and pass on as much information to the next group of guys, and that hasn't changed," Strief explained. In fact, he welcomes the competition. "The reality is I still have a lot to give the team, and I still think I'm playing at a high level. I think if you play well, you play, and if you don't play well you won't."

Strief has it in perspective and it's not surprising he's probably lived in reality more than any other NFL player I've covered. Hearing his humility, and honesty is in part the reason he's played as long as he has in the league, and of course he's a talented player. I wouldn't rush to push Strief out the door just yet, I think you will continue to see the same steady play you've seen in the past in 2015.

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Kristian: Saints rookies impress at mini-camp

The Saints coaches had their first peek at the draft haul this weekend in rookie mini camp, and so far the draft looks like it could have some solid early returns. "I would say this camp is further along than some of the rookie camps we've had in the past. These guys are coming in an picking things up pretty quickly, it's been impressive," explained coach Sean Payton following practice this morning. Immediately on Draft Day you could see the vision of this year - "Smart, tough, and physical players." The Saints are making an effort to upgrade the locker room maturity as well as production on the field. "You do start the process, in the very beginning this is what we're looking for, but yet the idea is just drafting good football players," Payton added.

Grayson: When the Saints drafted Garret Grayson in the third round, it was a clear indication the Saints are looking at the post-Brees era at QB. Payton said Grayson has been impressive in camp thus far. "He's a quick decision maker, he's been real effective." Payton went on to praise Grayson's accuracy. "He's a quick study, he's been sharp," he added. The Saints have three QB's in for rookie camp, but Grayson is the only player that is under contract. Taylor Graham (Hawaii) and Justin Worley (Tennessee) are on a three day tryout contract. "All three of them have been one of the better combinations of quarterbacks in a rookie camp that we've had," Payton said. I had a chance to talk to Grayson following practice and asked him if he had a chance to meet Drew Brees. "He came up and introduced himself to me, and shook my hand. It was a real honor to get a chance to meet a future hall of fame quarterback," Grayson said.

READ MORE: Saints feel they've found new gunslinger in Grayson

Cornerback log jam: The Saints have a ton of cornerbacks on the roster, and three in camp that have raised some eyebrows. P.J Williams and Damian Swann are both draft picks, and Delvin Breaux is a travelled "season rookie" as he put it. Breaux's journey to the NFL has been a long one at 25, after suffering a severe neck injury in high school and two seasons in the CFL he has a chance to stick with the Saints. Payton highlighted Breaux's play twice in his post-practice press conference. "You can see that he's in shape, he's been real good and active in this camp," Payton said. "Those guys have all stood out here (Swann, Breaux, Williams). 75% of the defensive snaps come in the nickel, so it's really the new base (defense). "I'd say Swann specifically, Williams is a guy that will have a chance to compete at the nickel spot," Payton said.

Veteran looks: NFL rules allow teams to also bring in some veteran players on a try out basis during rookie camp. An interesting player on the list of tryout players is defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. In 2011 the Tampa Bay Bucaneers drafted Bowers in the second round, and it just didn't work out in Tampa, but the Saints have had some luck in finding some veteran players in the past during this weekend. Tight End Billy Miller was discovered during this try out period back in 2006, and contributed for the Saints for four seasons from 2006 to 2009. Running backs Chris Ivory and Khiry Robinson were also unearthed in the rookie mini-camp work outs in the past.
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Saints sign Anthony and Williams to four-year deals

The Saints announced today the team has agreed to terms with two more draft picks. LB Stephone Anthony and CB P.J Williams both will sign 4 year deals. Anthony was selected with the 31st over all pick in the draft. Williams, a talented cornerback, was picked up in round 3 (78th overall).

The Saints will hold rookie mini camp this weekend and OT Andrus Peat is the lone unsigned draft pick (13th overall). It's merely a formality, not to worry.

Here's the full text of the announcement:


New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced Tuesday that the club has signed linebacker Stephone Anthony, a first-round draft pick (31st overall) and cornerback P.J. Williams, a third-round draft choice (78th overall), to four-year contracts.

Anthony, 22, was selected by the Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 31st overall pick out of Clemson. The 6-foot-3 inch, 245-pound Anson, N.C. native appeared in 52 games with 35 starts and recorded career totals of 330 tackles (210 solo), 9.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. In 2014, Anthony was a consensus first-team All-ACC selection as he recorded a team-high 90 tackles (61 solo), 10.5 stops for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles in 13 games with 12 starts. Anthony also led the Tigers with 131 tackles in 2013 as a junior.

Williams, a 6-foot, 196-pound cornerback out of Florida State, was the Saints' second selection in the third round of the draft. The Ocala, Fla. native played in 40 career games with 24 starts for the Seminoles, making 123 tackles (82 solo) with four interceptions, 18 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Williams earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors and was a Thorpe Award semifinalist as a junior in 2014 when he started all 13 games he played in, posting a career-best 74 tackles (52 solo) with one sack, one interception, 10 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Williams, 22, captured Defensive Most Valuable honors in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game vs. Auburn when he made seven stops, including a half-tackle for loss and an interception on consecutive plays at the start of the fourth quarter when the Seminoles trailed 21-13, leading to a Florida State touchdown.
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Saints sign 4 draft picks, agree on terms with 2

Ahead of this weekend's Rookie Mini Camp, the Saints have begun inking deals with their 2015 draft class.

The club's two 1st round picks are the only unsigned players at this point, but it's merely a formality at this point.

Offensive tackle Andrus Peat and LB Stephone Anthony are expected to have deals in place by this weekend.

Here is the news release from the Saints.

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced Monday that the club has agreed to terms with LB Hau'oli Kikaha and QB Garrett Grayson on four-year contracts and has signed LB Davis Tull, DL Tyeler Davison, CB Damian Swann and RB/RS Marcus Murphy to four-year deals.

Kikaha, 22, was selected by the Saints in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft with the 44th selection overall out of Washington. The 6-foot-3, 246-pounder played in 44 games in his career and recorded 206 tackles, a school-record 36 sacks, six passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Last season, Kikaha started all 14 games he played in and led the nation with 19 sacks as he became only the fifth unanimous All-American in Husky history.

Grayson (6-2, 220) was selected 75th overall by the Saints in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Colorado State. The Vancouver, Wash. native established or tied 16 school records over his four-year career, including passing yards (9,190), 300-yard passing games (11), completions (688) and touchdown passes (64). Grayson started all 13 games as a senior in 2014 and completed 270-of-420 passes for 4,006 yards and 32 touchdowns, leading the Mountain West Conference in passing yards and touchdown passes. He was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-Conference selection.

Tull, 23, was selected by the Saints in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft with the 148th selection overall out of Chattanooga. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder played in 48 games in his career and recorded 196 tackles and 37 sacks. Last season, Tull played in all 14 games on the defensive line and finished with 58 tackles and a Southern Conference-leading 10.5 sacks in earning conference player-of-the-year and Associated Press FCS first-team All-American honors.

Davison, 22, was selected by the Saints in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 154th selection overall out of Fresno State. The 6-foot-2, 309-pounder played in 53 games and registered 161 total tackles and 18 sacks. Last season, Davison was a first-team All-Mountain West selection, as he racked up single-season career-highs in tackles (61), sacks (8.5) and forced fumbles (two).

Swann, 22, was selected by the Saints in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 167th selection overall out of Georgia. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder played in 50 games with 40 starts over his career and registered 180 tackles, four sacks, eight interceptions, 21 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was an AP second-team All-SEC selection as a senior when he started all 12 games he played in and finished with 65 tackles, four interceptions, a team-best and SEC-high four forced fumbles and one 99-yard fumble return brought back for a touchdown.

Murphy, 23, was selected by the Saints in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 230th selection out of Missouri. The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder played in 52 games over his career and carried 337 times for 1,957 yards (5.8 avg.) with 16 touchdowns, caught 50 passes for 318 yards with two touchdowns, brought back 75 punts for 801 yards (10.7 avg.) with four touchdowns and returned 87 kickoffs for 2,036 yards with three scores. As a senior, he was named the Southeastern Conference's Special Teams Player of the Year when he led the conference with 1,921 all-purpose yards, finishing with 924 rushing yards, 212 receiving yards, 281 punt return yard, 504 kickoff return yards and nine total touchdowns.
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Post-draft, Saints start releasing veteran players

The Saints have the draft in the books, and are already parting ways with some veterans on the roster.

According to a league source, the Saints have released LB Kyle Knox after a nine-member draft class saw six selections (including 3 linebackers) on defense. Knox was largely a special teams contributor for the Saints.

Sources also says the Saints are releasing safety Marcus Ball. Ball was brought in last off-season from the CFL.
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Kristian: A surface review of the 2015 Saints draft class

This is usually the day all the experts hand out draft grades for the Saints and other NFL teams, and I've see anywhere from B+ to C- for the Black and Gold. While I don't get into the grading of the draft until a full season with that class has been played, I will tell you what I like about this class on the surface. I think the A+ grades are reserved for teams that make a splash with a big time playmaker or a top quarterback, because that's what fans want to see. The Saints didn't have flashy picks like that. There wasn't a lot of sizzle to this class, but there was plenty to like and a few things to dislike.

Favorite pick: Hau'oli Kikaha (OLB/Washington) is super productive and fits exactly what the Saints are looking for with intelligence, character, production, and work ethic. He'll be in the league a long time, and will become a really good player. I think when we look back on this draft, we might say he should have gone higher. Sean Payton said "He's the player you hope to get a chance to coach" after the selection. Kikaha might not flash and contribute as much as the club's first round pick in ILB Stephone Anthony, but only because of the position he plays. I had a hunch the Saints were going to grab him in the second round if he was there. I was impressed with this guy from the moment I met him at the Senior Bowl.

Questionable pick: Garrett Grayson (QB/Colorado State) only because I'm on record as saying that if the Saints used a top pick on a QB it would be a waste of a selection. I don't mean that Grayson will be a waste of a pick, but they could have gone elsewhere. He might indeed turn out to be the eventual successor to Drew Brees, or the Saints could be drafting another quarterback of the future in two or three years. Bottom line is with Grayson there is a chance that he will be a suitable option post Drew Brees, but you could have found that option in the draft next year or when Drew Brees retires. Now, it could end up being the best pick of the group if Brees has another drop off in production. What I like about this pick is even Drew Brees will be pushed a little bit. Grayson isn't on his level, but knowing that the team drafted his replacement should spur Brees to an even higher competitive spirit.

Underrated pick: P.J. Williams (CB Florida State) will be a valuable player for the Saints as a rookie. He'll come in and contribute right away, and if not for a minor off the field incident a month before the draft, Williams probably would have gone in the second round. Williams will compete with Stanley Jean-Baptiste (2014 2nd round pick) and a host of others for playing time. The cornerback spot in general should be highly competitive this pre-season. Williams has nice size and can also contribute on special teams.

Now let's recap the whole class, and how I see them fitting into the Saints plans this year and beyond.

Andrus Peat: Offensive Tackle (Stanford) The teams first pick in the 1st round (13th overall) will contribute this season as a the teams swing offensive tackle if not the starting tackle. Peat will give the Saints some grade A depth should injuries occur with Terron Armstead and Zach Strief. Bryce Harris' roster spot comes in jeopardy with the selection of Peat. Harris was the swing tackle the last couple of seasons and while he was OK, he's not going to provide the insurance that Peat will. Peat will be the Saints starting right tackle for the 2016 season.

Stephone Anthony: Inside linebacker (Clemson) The Saints second pick in the 1st round (31st overall) will come and play in the middle of the Saints defense from day one. Donnell Ellerbe might be ahead of him on the depth chart right now, but come September 13th Anthony will be the guy. I really like the attitude he'll bring even as a rookie, he's going to be an aggressive player with a nasty streak. Frankly it's something the defense didn't have last year.

Hau'oli Kikaha: OLB/Pass Rusher (Washington) 2nd round. Hau'oli is the exact style of player the Saints covet. This guy has no ego, and will come in and outwork nearly everyone of his rookie team mates. He's got a motor that won't quict and plenty of talent with some untapped ability. I think he'll play a role in his rookie season on passing downs and sub packages on defense. He'll know the playbook by training camp.

Garrett Grayson: QB (Colorado State) 3rd round. Grayson is the 'Quarterback of the Future', at least that's the plan. Grayson will probably sit for a season or two and be the understudy to Drew Brees all the while watching a hall of fame player operate on and off the field. He's super smart, and this pick could prove very wise. We just won't know the results for a couple of seasons.

P.J Williams: CB (Florida State) 3rd round. As I mentioned above, I like this pick a lot. He's a player that will compete in the nickel and dime packages on defense and plus it pushes last year's second round pick in Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Williams will have a chance to learn behind two really solid pro's in Keenan Lewis and Brandon Browner.

Davis Tull: OLB (Tennessee - Chattanooga) 5th round. His testing numbers are off the charts, so why did he last so long? Small school competition? Probably that, and he's dealing with a labrum rehab, but the Saints saw enough on tape to draft him, and admitted they would have been willing to trade up to get him. Tull is the fastest linebacker in the entire class, and while he'll have to play standing up at the NFL this is a player that I think you look for significant snaps on special teams and on defensive sub packages. Tull could end up being a really nice find a couple of years down the round and could turn into a solid starter.

Tyeler Davison: Defensive Tackle (Fresno State) 5th round. This is a depth move, with a hope that he'll be able to contribute more significantly in 2016. He will be in the defensive line rotation this year and push John Jenkins for playing time. Jenkins had a drop off in production last season, and Davison could possibly slide out to defensive end and provide some depth to Akiem Hicks.

Damian Swann: CB (Georgia) 5th round. Swann was high on the board for the Saints, so much so they were willing to trade two sixth round picks for him. He might have the best last name of the class, and I expect him to also be in the mix at cornerback this fall. Swann will make this team, and will be a good contributor on special teams.

Marcus Murphy: RB (Missouri) 7th round. The Saints believe they've found their kick returner to compete with Jalen Saunders this year. Murphy is a fun running back to watch - he's not Sproles but he can be a solid answer for the Black and Gold. I think he'll beat out Saunders as the teams return man on kickoffs, and serve as the teams primary fourth running back and will eventually find a way on the field in a limited role on offense. When the Saints grabbed Murphy in the seventh round, I received a text from an NFL executive that said "If it wasn't for his size, he would have gone much earlier. Some teams are just scared to draft smaller players. Payton will know exactly how to use him. That is a really good pick."

Overall, I like the haul for the Saints, I'm curious to see which pick doesn't make the final roster. I mean there are 9 players here, and I don't think there is room for all nine. If all nine make the roster it shows you just how good the class is, and a lot of what they think of their 2014 class, which wasn't very good last year.

Rookie mini-camp will be May 15th-17th.

The organized team activities (OTAs) will be on
May 26th
May 28th-29th
June 3rd-4th
June 11th-12th

The Saints will then hold minicamp June 16th-18th.
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Kristian: Names to watch for Saints in round 2

The Saints own three selections on day two of the draft, and could go in a number of directions with the 44th pick (12th pick in round 2). Here are a few players to keep an eye on: wide receivers Jalen Strong (Arizona State) Devin Smith (Ohio State) and Sammie Coates.

Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan really likes Coates, "That's a well put together player, and he can absolutely run. I like him a lot and think he would be a good fit. He's raw, but his height, weight and speed is salty," confirmed Gajan. Coates is 6'1 and 212lbs, and had an impressive pro day. Smith and Strong will likely be off the board before the Saints pick in the second round.

If the Black & Gold decide to draft an interior defensive lineman, keep close tabs on DT Grady Jarrett (Clemson) Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma) and Eddie Goldman (FSU). "It's a pretty big need for the Saints to add a defensive tackle," said Gajan. "They need a big punching bag in the middle who can disrupt plays in the backfield," continued the former Saints scout.

With three selections today the Saints won't have to force a pick, if the player they like isn't there. "The Saints need defensive help in the front seven regardless if it's inside or outside," Gajan added. Hau'oli Kikaha OLB (Washington) is another possible target, if the Saints are looking for a pass rusher.

In the third round, New Orleans might consider the tight end out of Ohio State, Jeff Heuerman.
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