New Orleans Saints GM Mickey Loomis on NFL Draft & latest free agent signings

New Orleans Saints GM Mickey Loomis on NFL Draft & latest free agent signings

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For the first time since Dave Wilson was selected in the 1981 supplemental draft in the first round, the New Orleans Saints drafted a quarterback.  New Orleans drafted Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson in the third round. He'll learn the tricks of the trade under veteran quarterback Drew Brees and that's a good thing.  Will he be the next starting quarterback down the line for the Saints?  Let's see how he develops under the watchful eye of Brees.

"That's a guy that I think caught Sean Payton's eye early on, as well as our scouts and our assistant coaches, "stated Saints general manager Mickey Loomis.  "The more we dug into him in terms of the evaluation, the background, all of the thinks that you look for, it just seemed like every box we checked in terms of a quarterback that you want to help develop.  We went and worked him out and had a great visit with him.  He's a good candidate for us."

The Saints also have veteran Luke McCown and former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin in the mix.

Before the draft the Saints talked about character issues and wanting to build stability in the locker room.

Loomis said, "I think we did re-emphasize that focus coming into this draft.  I know Sean Payton talked about it and we've talked an awful lot about re-emphasizing the character, the intelligence, the toughness, the productivity of the players that we selected. I think that is a reflection of that."

One of the Saints strong points on offense is the offensive tackle position, so why did the Saints draft Andrus Peat of Stanford in the first round?

Loomis said, "There's nothing wrong with drafting to a strength.  He'll be in the mix just like every other player.

He'll be in a competition, and look; we are fortunate to have Terron Armstead and Zach Strief manning those positions at right and left tackle."

When the Saints evaluate the players in the draft, do they forecast those players as becoming immediate starters?

"We're not against them playing right away, "said Loomis.  We are looking for contributions to our team, but that doesn't always mean they are going to start. They are going to play when they are ready to play and they have earned the right to play.  I think expectations for rookie players are unrealistic for the most point.  I think it's an exception when a rookie comes in and does spectacular things, and yet we seem to have that expectation for certainly every first round pick."

Loomis said the Saints needed to improve the defense and also improve the depth on defense.  He said he's pretty excited with the guys New Orleans drafted.

Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony excelled on the college level having piled up 330 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss. He's the Saints other first round pick and he could see early playing time as a rookie.

Hau'oli Kikaha was drafted in the second round out of Washington.  He's another aggressive linebacker who led the nation in sacks last season with 19.  However, he's has a problem with ACL tears to his left knee.

One player who has a big upside if Tennessee-Chattanooga linebacker Davis Tull.  Every scout loved his ability and he has a motor that doesn't stop.  He rang-up 10 1/2 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss in 2014.

Missouri running back Marcus Murphy was the last player drafted by New Orleans in the seventh round and he's a little guy at 5 feet, 8 inches, but he using quickness to come up with big plays.  The Saints have him penciled in as a special teams guy who could get the starting nod.

As I said earlier, you really can't say this was a great or poor draft year until a few years down the road, but a number of the players drafted have the all-famous "P" word... potential.  If they can contribute in some way to improve on last year's seven-win season, it would be a step in the right direction.

Saints GM Mickey Loomis announced the signing of these free agents on Monday:

Tavaris Barnes – Defensive lineman, Clemson (6-3, 275): Barnes was a part of the Tigers defensive line rotation for four seasons. Playing in 47 career contests with four starts, he recorded 64 tackles (38 solo), 9.5 stops for loss, five sacks, two passes defensed, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. As a senior in 2014, Barnes played in 13 games with three starts and had 19 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, one pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Kaleb Eulls – Defensive lineman, Mississippi State (6-4, 285): The Yazoo City, Miss. native was a four-year starter on the defensive line for Mississippi State. He opened all 52 games he played in and posted 118 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed. As a senior in 2014, he started 12 games at defensive tackle and one contest at defensive end, totaling 34 tackles, three stops for a loss and three sacks.

Doniel Gambrell – Guard, Notre Dame College (6-6, 315): Gambrell, a Cleveland native, becomes to the first player from Notre Dame College in Euclid, Ohio to join an NFL club. He was a two-time first-team All-Mountain East Conference honoree and a All-American, starting at right tackle for the last three seasons.

R.J. Harris – Wide Receiver, New Hampshire (6-0, 194): Harris, who is a native of Ordenton, Md., played in all 14 games for the Wildcats as a senior and recorded a school-record 100 receptions for 1,551 yards (15.5 avg.) with 15 touchdowns, earning Associated Press FCS first-team All-American honors. Harris was the FCS individual leader in receiving yardage. In his four-year UNH career, Harris compiled 310 catches for 4,328 yards and 36 touchdowns as the school's and Colonial Athletic Association all-time leader in receptions and second on both lists in receiving yardage. His 36 TDs rank second in program history and fourth in the CAA. On the NCAA FCS career leaderboard, Harris is fourth in both receptions and receiving yards.

Sean Hickey – Tackle, Syracuse (6-6, 306): Hickey was a three-year starter for Syracuse, settling in at left tackle as a junior. He was the only offensive lineman to play in every game for the Orange in 2014, starting all 12 games and was an All-ACC Coaches and Phil Steele Third Team selection.

Malcolme Kennedy – Wide Receiver, Texas A&M (6-0, 205): Kennedy was a four-year letterman for the Aggies and produced career totals of 150 receptions for 1,694 yards (11.3 avg.) and 15 touchdowns. The Cayuga, Texas native contributed 53 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games with 10 starts as a senior in 2014.

Cyril Lemon – Guard, North Texas (6-3, 315): Lemon spent four years on the offensive line for the Mean Green where he received several honors including Conference USA All-Conference and All-Sun Belt team selections while serving as a team captain in 2014. Playing both guard and tackle in his career, Lemon was a vital cog in the offensive front on a unit that set a school record for total yards in a season with 5,336 in 2013.

Ashaad Mabry – Defensive lineman, Texas-San Antonio (6-3, 315): A four-year contributor on the defensive line for the Roadrunners, Mabry appeared in 46 games with 12 starts. The San Antonio native recorded 49 stops as a senior in 2014 while appearing in all 12 contests.

Markus Pierce-Brewster – Linebacker, West Texas A&M (6-3, 243): Pierce-Brewster is a National City, Calif. native who attended West Texas A&M after stints at City College of San Francisco and Syracuse University. He was named to the All-Lone Star Conference defensive team in 2014.

Bobby Richardson – Defensive Lineman, Indiana (6-3, 286): Richardson appeared in 45 games on the defensive line with 27 starts over four seasons for the Hoosiers, totaling 129 tackles (68 solo), 11 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, three blocked kicks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and six quarterback hurries, while leading the team's defensive front in stops in each of his final two seasons. The Tampa, Fla. native was named a team captain in 2014 before receiving All-Big Ten honorable mention honors by coaches and media and earning Indiana's Chris Dal Sasso Award given to outstanding linemen.

Stephon Sanders – Linebacker, SMU (6-3, 250): A three-year starter for the Mustangs, Sanders appeared in 11 games in 2014 and ranked second on the team with 70 tackles (43 solo) while also contributing a team-high eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and four passes defensed. He appeared in 48 games with 40 starts and finished his SMU career with 230 tackles and 10 sacks and was named to the Butkus Award watch list in 2014.

Harold Spears – Tight End, New Hampshire (6-4, 255): Spears was a Colonial Athletic Association All-Conference selection after catching 56 passes for 838 yards and five touchdowns as a senior in 2014. In his four-year career, Spears contributed 111 catches for 1,639 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a junior, he was named to the CAA Academic All-Conference Team, CAA All-Conference Third Team and received the CAA Commissioner's Academic Award.

Jack Tabb – Tight End, North Carolina (6-3, 250): Tabb appeared in 45 games with 22 starts at North Carolina, finishing with 47 receptions for 534 yards (11.4 avg.) with three touchdowns. As a senior in 2014, the Red Bank, N.J. native started all 13 games and caught 26 passes for 257 yards and three scores.

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