Steve: Saints rookie profiles - Khairi Fortt
When talking about the Saints 2014 draft class, it seems to me as if Fortt’s name is often absent from the conversation. Folks are obviously excited about 1st-round pick Brandin Cooks and 2nd-rounder Stanley Jean-Baptiste. The potential of 5th round outside linebacker Ronald Powell comes up, since he is a former top high school recruit in the nation. The Black & Gold’s other 5th round pick Vinnie Sunseri’s name is whispered since he played for Nick Saban at Alabama, and there’s excitement about the safeties’ potential on specials teams.
But as far 4th round selection Khairi Fortt… nadda. Why no love or interest in the linebacker?
He has experience in 3-4 and 4-3 alignments and that versatility could be very beneficial in d-coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme.
Fortt is also blessed with natural tools. He’s got the size at 6-foot-2, 248 pounds. He’s got the strength, registering 30 reps of 225 pounds, a best amongst linebackers at the NFL combine. He managed a 4.70 in the 40-yard dash, but really has field speed and seems to move like a safety; very athletic and agile.
Durability is the big question. He missed the last three games of the 2013 season with a bicep injury. A year earlier, Fortt was redshirted due to knee surgery after transferring to Cal from Penn State.
The Saints obviously feel his talent is worth the “risk” or they wouldn’t have grabbed him in round 4. The hope is that he can develop into a replacement for Curtis Lofton or David Hawthorne as one of the Black & Gold’s ILBs.
At worst, Fortt should improve the special teams unit, but the combination of his upside in the hands of Coach Ryan could result in a bigger rookie impact.