Hau’oli Kikaha

RECAP: New Orleans Saints Rookie Mini Camp

by Jordan McGuire on May 18, 2015

Sean-Payton-web

The Saints Rookie Mini Camp was held over the weekend in the Saints’ indoor practice facility on Airline Drive. With nine draft picks and 13 additional undrafted free agents, the Saints opened their Rookie Mini Camp to many others trying to lock down a spot on a NFL roster. Below we will look at the notable performances of rookie standouts, things to take away looking forward and is Garrett Grayson, the future of the New Orleans Saints.

Andrus Peat

The 6’7 300 pounder is quick on his feet and displays tremendous fluidity for his massive size. Peat hails from Stanford University and was the Saints’ first selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. He is a physical presence and will be a pusher in the run game. He is currently a right tackle but don’t be surprised to see the Saints coaching staff rotate him around at either guard positions and even a shot at the coveted left tackle position. Sean Payton and staff have really liked his football IQ and his intelligent demeanor throughout the post draft process.

Delvin Breaux

A New Orleans native, Delvin Breaux is a graduate from McDonaugh 35. In high school, the Ron Eagle defensive back had an offer from LSU to play football. After a critical injury left him with broken vertebrae, he was forced to be sidelined for six years. He went through the rigors of minor league, arena league and finally landed in the Canadian Football League. Breaux is now regarded as one of the premiere corners in the CFL and was a CFL All Star in 2014. He signed with the Saints in January and could get valuable playing time behind other New Orleans native Keenan Lewis and newly acquired Brandon Browner.

RJ-Harris-web

RJ Harris

Pictured above, the 6’0 wide receiver from New Hampshire could find himself on the Saints roster. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and a knack for finding the end zone. The Saints are incredibly talented when it comes to finding small school diamonds in the rough, i.e. Marques Colston from Hofstra University. After watching a couple of high light reels from Harris’ senior year, it is easy to see that this guy could fit into Sean Payton’s offense quite well. Like Brandin Cooks, Harris runs well with jet sweeps and other short screens. He follows his blockers well and catches passes down the middle of the field in an admirably fearless fashion. Expect RJ Harris to find a role on the Saints roster with the recent departure of Kenny Stills.

Stephone Anthony

This guy might become one of the major steals in the 2015 NFL Draft. Hailing from Clemson, the standout middle linebacker has had both Rob Ryan and Sean Payton gushing over his leadership, high motor and work ethic. Expect this guy to be an opening day starter for the Saints’ resurgent defense. Anthony has the size, speed and toughness to start right away for the Saints. He can play outside or middle linebacker and seems to have an exceptional aptness to make plays on the ground or through the air.

Antonio Johnson

Johnson was signed only a number of hours ago following the Saints Rookie Mini Camp. He is a 6’5 300 pound offensive tackle from North Texas University. The former North Texas star was a four year starter who has shown some significant promise is shoring up the depth on the offensive line.

Hau’oli Kikaha

This is the guy who has had nothing but great things said about him since he was selected in the second round by the New Orleans Saints. Kikaha led the nation in sacks last season playing for Washington University. He has been praised for his high motor and contagious work ethic. The former Husky will add depth to either the defensive end or outside linebacker positions and can be an effective pass rusher. Kikaha has suffered two knee injuries but you can expect him to be packaged in defensive situations under the tutelage of Rob Ryan.

Things to take away from this past weekend is the now budding battle in the corner back ranks. From the starters to the cutting floor, Saints have beefed up the corner back competition tremendously. PJ Williams and Delvin Breaux will be immediately competing for the first corner back off the bench but don’t count out other rookie and Georgia alum Damian Swann nipping at their heels.

Some rookies who can expect immediate playing time are the first round selections Andrus Peat and Stephone Anthony and the New Orleans native Delvin Breaux. Andrus Peat has versatility that will allow him to play at either tackle position and could potentially find his way at either guard position. His football intelligence and superior size will greatly impact his playing time. Stephone Anthony could solidify himself as the main focus towards the future of the defense. He will have enormous shoes to fill after the departure of Curtis Lofton but the coaching staff is taken aback by the Clemson star linebacker. Finally, Delvin Breaux was considered a shutdown corner back in the CFL and will hopefully provide a physical presence lining up against either slot or wide recievers.

Finally, is the third round pick Garrett Grayson the future of the New Orleans Saints? I don’t think this is an Aaron Rogers behind Brett Favre situation that many have alluded to. I do, however, believe that the man from Colorado State will serve as the incumbent to future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. He does have a long throwing motion that needs some re-tooling but executes mature throws and is able to throw receivers open. He told the media that he was “a deer in headlights” when he first met Drew Brees and explained that this is a dream come true to learn and play behind Brees. It’s going to be interesting to see his progression under Sean Payton and Drew Brees and maybe 4-5 years down the line he will step in and become the new face of the franchise.

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Saints-web

The New Orleans Saints didn’t turn any heads with their first two picks on Thursday night of the NFL Draft, but they did do their best to fill necessary holes in their roster. They drafted the offensive tackle from Stanford Andrus Peat with the thirteenth overall pick, then landed the inside linebacker from Clemson Stephone Anthony with the thirty-first pick. Throughout the next six rounds, the Saints used seven picks to solidify their 2015 roster.

Washington-DE-webHau’oli Kikaha

Picked No. 44 overall and the twelfth pick in the second round, the defensive end from Washington University is now a New Orleans Saint. Hau’oli Kikaha led the nation in sacks last year and his intriguing streak of thirteen games with at least one sack was snapped when he came up short against Arizona University. Kikaha has had some medical issues, tearing his ACL twice, but has the heart and relentlessness to become a great pass rusher in Rob Ryan’s system. Kikaha also has judo and wrestling in his repertoire including winning a championship in judo. This guy is tough. He is hard nosed and can get to the quarterback with the best of them. Good pick to rush from the end and get to the quarterback.

Garrett-Grayson-webGarrett Grayson

Picked No. 75 and the eleventh pick in the third round, here cometh the potential incumbent for Drew Brees. Garrett Grayson hails from Colorado State and was the third quarterback taken in the 2015 draft. He is 6’2″ and scouts say that he throws with anticipation and can throw his receivers open. He lacks a large frame for a pocket passing quarterback but has sneaky athleticism and has the ability to shock defenses with his feet. I believe this guy will be the future under Drew Brees and Sean Payton. I like this pick a lot. Grayson’s deep ball accuracy is probably the best in the entire draft. One big weakness, though, is his long windup throwing motion. This can be fixed and he won’t be rushed to hit the field but his release must be shortened if he ever wants to start in the NFL. This is the earliest the Saints have drafted a quarterback since Archie Manning was taken second overall in the 1971 NFL Draft.

PJWilliams-webPJ Williams

Picked No. 78 and the fourteenth pick in the third round comes another corner back from Florida State University. He has swagger, speed and ball skills to be effective in the NFL one day. I question his discipline and his cocky-natured playing style and how it will translate into the pros. He has enough swagger to compete and make plays and avoid falling down a hole. He was a Under Armour All-American in high school and played in all of Florida State’s fourteen games as a freshman. He was the Defensive MVP of the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn in 2013 and will likely help the Saints down the line as a safety or a lock down corner.

Davis-Tull-webDavis Tull

Picked No. 148 and the twelfth pick in the fifth round is the outside linebacker from Tennessee-Chattanooga University. I had never heard of Davis Tull but with his 6’2 and his high motor and physical prowess he became a player that can bring energy to defensive and special teams schemes for the Saints. He is the three-time Southern Conference Defensive Player of the year and a two-time FCS All-American. He also boasts a 4.0 GPA which shows discipline and football IQ. Tull can come in and bring high energy to special teams and come in the occasional 3rd down situations. He has football experience being a four-year starter but lacks NFL athleticism.

Tyeler-Davidson-webTyeler Davidson

Picked No. 154 and the eighteenth pick in the fifth round is the 316 pound defensive tackle out of Fresno State. Davidson is a handful in the defensive trenches and runs downhill rather quickly. He uses his brute force to block holes and bullies his way into the opposing backfield. Davidson has high character and wrestled in high school which will translate well with his hands and angles of attack. This is a great late round project pick for the Saints as they are always in need to guys getting to the quarterback.

Damian_Swann-webDamian Swann

Picked No. 167 and the thirty-first pick in the fifth round is Georgia University’s Damian Swann. Swann is the 6’0 corner back who played on a struggling SEC secondary. His upside is his ability to play anywhere on the field but lacks speed and discipline to guard downfield with superior receivers. Look to see Swann contribute in the special teams and possibly down the line defensively.

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Marcus Murphy

Picked No. 230 and the thirteenth pick in the seventh round is another SEC native, Marcus Murphy. Murphy is the punt and kick return specialist for the Missouri Tigers. He will likely fit the mold of a Brandon Cooks type regarding the special teams realm for the Saints. I don’t see him getting many touches in the loaded backfield for the Saints but you never know with Sean Payton. Hopefully Ingram will get the bulk of the carries but only time will tell when this speedy runner will get touches in the New Orleans backfield.

 

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