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Saints cut tight end Coby Fleener: source

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By Josh Katzenstein

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

The New Orleans Saints signed Coby Fleener two years ago hoping he could be the next in a line of highly productive tight ends in Sean Payton's offense.

Instead, in two seasons, Fleener struggled to make an impact that matched his five-year, $36 million contract, and on Monday, the team released him, according to a league source.

Fleener in 2016 finished with 50 catches for 631 yards with three touchdowns, but much of that production came when the team was trailing late in games. In Fleener's first training camp, Payton noted that he needed time to adjust to the offense.

In 2017, Fleener had 22 catches for 295 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games before a concussion forced him onto injured reserve. He had a reduced role in the offense as the team turned more to blocking-focused tight ends Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanawanui. ...

Full Story - NOLA.com

New Orleans Saints depth chart: Defense sees big investments

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By Mike Triplett | ESPN Staff Writer


With free agency and the draft completed, and OTAs and minicamps scheduled for the next month and a half, here's a closer look at the depth chart for the New Orleans Saints:

OFFENSE

Note: Starters in bold

Quarterback (3): Drew Brees, Taysom Hill, Tom Savage

The backup battle should be one of the more fascinating summer storylines after the Saints let veteran Chase Daniel go in free agency. Sean Payton is apparently so enamored with Hill's dual-threat potential that he told Fox (Sports) last year that Hill could be Brees' successor -- even though he didn't join the Saints until after he was cut by the Packers as an undrafted rookie last September.

Running back (6): Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, Trey Edmunds...

Saints have rebuilt depth, which means familiar names might end up playing elsewhere

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By Nick Underhill -- Advocate

The Saints haven’t been much of a feeder system for the rest of the league.

For a while, after the Saints became trapped in a buffering loop of 7-9 finishes, the roster was top heavy and without the kind of quality depth needed to succeed and endure injuries. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen often calls the NFL a “backup league.” Well, when New Orleans needed one, it often turned to the street or waiver wire to see what was out there, or it churned the bottom of the roster.

There are better measures of success, like an 11-5 record and a playoff win, but it is interesting to evaluate the roster moves of the past few seasons and see which Saints eventually got picked up and had success with other teams. From 2014-2016, a high percentage of those cut by the Saints never again played a meaningful role in the NFL.

Full Article -- Advocate

Did the Saints give up too much to land their defensive end in the draft?

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BY BRIAN ALLEE-WALSH

NEW ORLEANS
Time will tell whether New Orleans Saints officials over-paid to move up 13 spots in the first round of the 83rd annual NFL draft to acquire UT-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport with the 14th overall pick.

Most post-draft analyses indicate Davenport is a worthy selection at No. 14 but not at the compensation GM Mickey Loomis handed to the Green Bay Packers — first- and fifth-round picks in 2018 and a first-rounder in '19. It is the kind of pick package that typically would result in the selection of a quarterback perhaps, but not a defensive end.

I understand that position from a historical perspective.

According to Mike Triplett, who covers the Saints for ESPN.com, history shows that few teams in the common-draft era ever trade two first-round picks to draft a non-quarterback.

Full Article -- Sun Herald

What's a realistic sack projection for Marcus Davenport's rookie season?

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By Josh Katzenstein jkatzenstein@nola.com,
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune


After the New Orleans Saints gave up their 2019 first-round pick to move up to pick Marcus Davenport in the 2018 NFL Draft, expectations for the defensive end will be sky high this season.

Fans seem to be expecting 10 sacks right out of the gate for the Texas-San Antonio product, but is that realistic for a rookie that went 14th overall?

Based on an analysis of the pass rushers selected in the past seven drafts, it would seem double-digit sacks is an unrealistic -- but not impossible -- goal for his rookie season.

Full Article -- Picayune

Rick Leonard Has the Tools, but is Still a Project in the NFL

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He’s unlikely to start right away.

By Chris Dunnells


The New Orleans Saints made lots of noise in the 2018 NFL Draft, but other than Marcus Davenport, none was more controversial than selecting OL Rick Leonard in the 4th Round.

Rob Hodges of SB Nation’s page for Florida State University, Tomahawk Nation, took some quick time to answer a few questions for Saints to get to know one of their newest additions to the offensive line.

The Saints got a lot of flack for drafting Leonard in the 4th Round, with many pundits putting an “Undrafted” grade on him. Were you surprised to see him go off the board that early?

“Stunned” is a pretty good word here. Leonard doesn’t lack any of the tools to make for a top-flight OL, having played DE (and seen playing time) early in his career at FSU. But Rick Trickett was able to convince him to switch to OT. At 6’7 311, he has good size and excellent frame to hold perhaps 10 or so more pounds of lean mass while retaining his athleticism. But yes, as is - I was stunned to see him go in the 4th round.

Full Article -- CSC

High price of pass-rushers led to Saints' draft-day stunner

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BY Mike Triplett

METAIRIE, La. -- "It's got to be a quarterback. It must be Lamar Jackson."

That was the prevailing reaction when the New Orleans Saints made one of the biggest, boldest moves in this year's draft -- trading away next year's first-round pick and a fifth-rounder in 2018 to move up from No. 27 to No. 14.

And it was a fair reaction, considering that, well, no team in NFL history has ever made a move quite like it for a non-quarterback.

Instead, the Saints threw a curve ball, selecting defensive end Marcus Davenport from the University of Texas-San Antonio.

How rare was the move?

Full Article -- ESPN

New Orleans Saints Undrafted Rookie Profile: Keith Kirkwood

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An inspirational story could bring underrated talent to the New Orleans receiving corps.

By Bob Rose


The New Orleans Saints have one of the best young wide receivers in the league in Michael Thomas. The rest of the Saints wideouts, however, struggled at times a year ago. Veteran Ted Ginn Jr. had one of the best years of his career in his first season as a Saint, but Brandon Coleman, Willie Snead, and Tommylee Lewis were inconsistent in their production. Snead departed as a free agent this past offseason, but New Orleans signed productive wideout Cameron Meredith away from the Chicago Bears, then used a 3rd round pick on Central Florida's Tre'quan Smith. One other name to look for as a potential contributor in 2018 is the subject of today's undrafted rookie profile.

Keith Kirkwood, WR (Temple)

Kirkwood, like many players, began playing football as a young boy, but basketball was his first love. He led his Neptune High School basketball team to the New Jersey state finals as a junior. He then returned to the gridiron his senior season, earning a scholarship offer to the University of Hawaii, where he scored 4 touchdowns on 12 catches in seven games with the Rainbow Warriors. He left Hawaii after his freshman year, enrolling with Temple after the death of a close friend, and also...

Carnell invited to Saints minicamp

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By Jeff McIntyre

The former North Alabama cornerback waited patiently to hear from an NFL team after the draft ended Sunday. Just when it seemed as if nothing was going to happen for Carnell he received a call from the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, inviting him to their rookie minicamp next week.

“I had not heard from anybody, so it was a little discouraging until I got that call,” Carnell said. “It didn’t happen when I wanted, but it is all on God’s timing. My family really supported me and I kept praying. I just wanted a chance to get my foot in the door and now I’ve got it.”

Carnell started at cornerback for the Lions the past two seasons after transferring from Grossmont College. The San Diego native recorded 36 tackles, intercepted two passes and broke up 12 during his junior season. As a senior, Carnell recorded first-team All-Gulf South Conference honors after making 28 tackles, intercepting four passes and breaking up eight passes.

Full Article -- Times-Daily

Saints sign undrafted free agents J.T. Gray, Colton Jumper

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By Amos Morale III amorale@nola.com,
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune


The New Orleans Saints signed undrafted free agents J.T. Gray and Colton Jumper, according to the league transaction report posted Thursday (May 3).

Gray is a 6-foot, 202-pound defensive back out Mississippi State who played in 45 games, starting 17, through his four-year career at Mississippi State. He finished his Bulldogs career with 65 tackles, eight pass break-ups, an interception and a forced fumble in his senior year.

Full Article -- Picayune

Saban: Mark Ingram just as competitive on golf course

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Duane Rankin, Montgomery Advertiser

Nick Saban had somewhere to be, but golf partner Mark Ingram wasn’t having it.

Saban was recounting when he and Ingram finished second to Georgia Tech pair Paul Johnson and Jon Berry in the 2015 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge at Reynolds Lake Oconee Resort outside Atlanta.

“We were in the playoff with Georgia Tech to win on about the fifth extra hole,” Saban said. “I said, ‘Mark, this is my last hole. I have to go speak.’ There are whole load of people at the plane and they’re all calling every five minutes saying, ‘We’ve got a 1,000 people you got to speak to tonight. We’re going to be late.’”

Full Article -- Montgomery Advertiser

New Orleans Saints 2018 NFL Draft: Why Taysom Hill Is the Winner

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By Dean Mullen

Make no mistake, Taysom Hill has to feel pretty good going into the 2018 season. He will undoubtedly have to beat out Tom Savage to win the backup job. Also, with the acquisition of J.T. Barrett, it’s likely to be a battle for that backup position. Nevertheless, Hill has the coaches’ eyes and some experience being with the team for a solid year.

The fact that the Saints didn’t select a quarterback, has to instill some confidence in Hill. Surely, Who Dat Nation was salivating in round one, when the Saints traded up to move to the 14th overall pick. The thought was that the Saints were going to pick a quarterback. That’s the usual scenario when a team moves up and gives up a couple of draft picks.

Full Article -- LWOS

Saints draft: Boom or bust? Only time will tell!!

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TRACEY JAGNEAUX

NEW ORLEANS -- No question that after last year’s bountiful draft for the New Orleans Saints, the 2018 version of let’s take a chance would be scrutinized in a way that no other draft would be.

No matter who the Saints chose this year, the comparison to 2017 would be made, even though none of the players selected starting last Thursday had even taken a snap in the NFL.

So, how did the Saints do in this year’s installment? That all depends on who you ask. The range of grades looks like the report card of a seventh grader going through the change to adulthood: it is all over the map.
ESPN gave the Saints a C+, putting New Orleans just above average.

Bleacher Report, without providing any explanation with its rankings, gave the Saints a D, the lowest in the league along with Oakland and Seattle.
Yahoo and USA Today agreed with Bleacher Report and also rated the New Orleans draft as being D worthy. However, both NFL.com and CBS Sports had the Saints with a grade of B.

The biggest move of the draft for New Orleans came very early. The Saints made a bold move in the first round Thursday, trading next year’s first-rounder to move up and take Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport, a player who filled a need for a pressure player at the right defensive end spot the Saints have...

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