Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 5/1/12
New Orleans Saints 2012 Draft Picks:

Pick Player Position School
3.26 (89) Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina
4.27 (122) Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
5.27 (162) Corey White, SS, Samford
6.9 (179) Andrew Tiller, OG, Syracuse
7.27 (234) Marcel Jones, OT, Nebraska


Vitt and Spagnuolo Discuss Hicks:

Akiem Hicks

New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt & Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Media Availability
Friday, April 27, 2012

Watch The Presser

Vitt Opening Statement:

We’re really excited about our pick, Akiem Hicks. It’s a guy that we really studied. As late as Friday, I would say we spent an hour and a half to two hours on this player. We felt that it was a guy that would be there for us. Height, weight and speed, he’s the kind of guy we’re looking at for our defensive system. We love his tenacity. We know he’s raw. He has to be coached, but that’s the fun part. He fits the character of our football team. He has good work habits. We love his resiliency. I think everybody kind of knows about his story. He was a junior college transfer that couldn’t qualify at LSU. He stayed out of school for a year, worked at DIRECTV and then went to Canada, played and then qualified for the NFL Draft. We’re excited about having this kid. It’s a big body player. Coach Spagnuolo and I are happy Sean (Payton) isn’t here because we’d probably have an offensive player. We ganged up on everybody and got a defensive player so we’re excited.

Q to Vitt: How long before you expect him to have an impact on your defense?

I don’t have a crystal ball. He passes the eyeball test. He passes the commitment test. He passes the resiliency test. He wants to be a good football player, so we’re going to integrate him in (our system) and see how long it takes.

Q to Vitt: Have you seen him in person?

Absolutely, at the NFL Combine.

Q to Spagnuolo: Were there any other players that stood out that you were thinking about drafting?

There’s always a couple there. Mickey (Loomis) and Rick (Reiprish) tossed around a couple of things, but when it was all said and done, Akiem stuck out. We’re pretty glad we got him.

Q to Spagnuolo and Vitt: Were you focused on defense for this pick?

Spagnuolo: I wouldn’t necessarily say that. We were, but it could have gone either way. I’m glad that it went this way.

Vitt: We tried to get a group of players that we thought would be there at this time in the draft. I know you’re going to think that I’m making this up, but he was at the top of the list of our board when it was our pick. If he wasn’t there, Mickey was entertaining some phone calls to move down. But this is the player we covered and the one that we wanted and the one we studied the most on Friday. It worked out well.

Spagnuolo: Mickey mentioned the other day that a lot of the guys that we thought would be there, there were a lot of defensive names.

Q to Spagnuolo: Did losing Shaun Rogers and the possibility of losing Aubrayo Franklin affect your decision?

I don’t know. Mickey (Loomis) has been through this for a long time and Rick (Reiprish) has too. I don’t think you ever just go based on need. We did just sign (Brodrick) Bunkley this past year. We certainly are glad we have him along with Sedrick (Ellis) and a bunch of guys. I think Akiem is the kind of guy that’s going to come in here, and like Joe said is raw and has played a different caliber of football so it’s going to take him a little while and will be a little bit of a learning curve. In the meantime, we feel like we have guys that can help us out.

Q to Vitt: Did he play in the East-West game?

Yes, and he dominated. He played really well. He threw some bodies around in there and I think that’s where people really started to notice this guy. He has the pass rush ability, the feet and the hands. When you’re getting ready for the third round, you want to get a guy that has some redeeming qualities of greatness that you can work with. You can’t coach size and quickness and what this guy is on the hoof. We’re excited about it.

Q to Spagnuolo: Do you see him as being an inside pass rusher?

That’s interesting. Again, we’re talking about a different level of football. I think he said to us, it’s like Division II football. He said that to us at the NFL Combine. That was his comment. Don’t quote me on that. You guys can ask him that when he comes here, but he played inside and outside. Just going through the notes I just had, I noticed a little bit of an edge rush. I don’t know if that’s going to correlate to an edge rush in the NFL, but certainly I think he can be an inside rusher on third down. We’ll see where he develops as a first or second down end. We’ll get him in here soon enough and we’ll figure out where to put him.

Q to Vitt: How tough was it to sit there in the second round knowing you had a pick taken away?

Mickey (Loomis) took all kind of phone calls. Mickey is always going to make the best decisions for our football team and not mortgage the future. We had a group of players that we thought would be there at three and they did start to dwindle, but the top guys that we coveted were still there so it was a slam dunk for us. That was the consensus of the room.

Q to Spagnuolo and Vitt: What was Hicks’ reaction to coming here?

Spagnuolo: It’s hard to tell when you’re talking, but I think he had a tear in his eye. It was great. He was with his family.

Vitt: It was great. That’s what makes the night special.

Q to Spagnuolo: Can you talk about Akiem Hicks’ tape a little bit with what limited amount of it you had?

It’s hard to watch. You have to dig and that’s what the scouts did. That’s how this guy comes to Joe and me originally and then we sit there and do the same thing. The level of the cameras isn’t the same, but overall when you watch and see some of the things that he does, there’s a great deal of potential there. He’s a big physical football player. Bill Johnson and Travis Jones will get him in here and we’ll work him and get him to be good.

Q to Vitt: This organization seems to have a knack for finding guys coming from small schools. Can you talk about that?

I think there are some teams that may not want to draft guys from smaller schools, and we’re not scared of that. Jahri Evans and Jermon Bushrod (are examples). We just stick to the discipline of the board. This is where we had this player rated. The East-West Shrine Game was huge. He had a good Combine and it was what it was.

Q to Spagnuolo: Do you think you’ve seen more active trading in this year’s draft than ever before?

I think that’s a direct result of the fact that the rookie wage scale is completely different. You saw that a lot yesterday.

Q to Vitt: Did you guys talk to LSU about Hicks and why they recruited him?

Our scouts and Bill Johnson did. The character of the kid is great. We talked about his resiliency and his want-to to stay in football. He’s out of LSU. He goes to a junior college and is out of school for a year working at DIRECTV and then he’s up to Canada to play. You have to have some want-to to go take the trail that this kid has taken. That’s pretty impressive.

Q to Spagnuolo: Do you know about his swim and rip move?

A lot of defensive linemen have a swim and rip move. I’m assuming he does too.

Q to Vitt and Spagnuolo: Can you talk about the reasons he left LSU?

Vitt: I think there was something about academics. I think there was something that he was potentially on campus a little bit too early. He was there to start school in the fall and I guess he wasn’t supposed to be. These weren’t character flaws on his part. I think there was some miscommunication. I think his transfer credits probably got locked up in a vault somewhere and he had to stay out of football for a year and head to Canada.

Spagnuolo: I think he said that there was a long process of filing with the NCAA and it kind of just kept going. He wanted to play football.

Q to Vitt: Would it be fair to say that the learning curve for a defensive tackle is a little shorter than at other positions?

I’m a linebacker coach and Coach Spagnuolo has been a linebacker coach and a secondary coach. If you ask us, the further from the ball you are the smarter you have to be. There’s going to be a learning curve just from the physicality standpoint and reading blocks. Just getting on the daily schedule of the NFL and trying to get through training camp, those are the challenges he has to meet, but those are the challenges that we look forward to.

Q to Spagnuolo: How would you assess the existing talent on the Saints defense?

It’s hard to assess the talent. I’m relying on Joe (Vitt), Bill (Johnson), Travis (Jones) and some of the other coaches around here, but I’ve been very impressed with how in tune these guys (players) are at this time of the year. They came here like sponges willing to embrace everything we’ve put in. It’s just been two weeks. We’re in phase one of this offseason. We get into phase two next week, but it’s been great standing up there teaching them right now and the way they’re absorbing things.

Q to Spagnuolo: What did you do in your month or two without players at the practice facility? Did you absorb as much film as you did or did you pick the brains of coaches?

We did. When we started this process out, we watched Saints film for the first two or three weeks and just trying to pick out all of the good things that they had done here. It’s a beg, borrow and steal league. They do it all the time, all the coaches do. We tossed around a bunch of ideas and then started to lay out the things I’ve kind of been familiar with in what has kind of been the package that we’ve run in New York and St. Louis. We’re going to mesh this thing together and hopefully come up with a good one.

Q to Spagnuolo: In your system are your ends and tackles interchangeable?

It’s hard to be interchangeable with tackles and ends in the NFL. Some of your defensive ends will slide in on third down and play tackle. It’s hard to go the other way. I think we’ll find the spot for Akiem and stick him there initially. I don’t know if we’ll be flipping him back and forth. We’ll see.

Q to Spagnuolo: Do you obviously consider players like Brodrick Bunkley, David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton to be top notch players? Is there something that you like to do with your defense where these guys fit really well?

I know we always talk about the guys that are new, (but) I’ll be honest with you, I’m not just focused and zoned in on the new guys. There are a lot of good football players in that room and a lot of good coaches. We’ll put our heads together, put the talent on the field and hopefully put together a pretty good defense.

Q to Spagnuolo: Is it unlikely that Akiem Hicks would get some early reps as a nose tackle?

We don’t have a quote, unquote nose tackle. We’re going to start this thing out with a right and left defensive tackle. He’ll be on one side or the other and we’ll approach it that way. We’ll see what’s his best abilities are and go from there.

Q to Spagnuolo: He played both end and tackle in college, but is he a little too big for end?

He’s a big man. Playing up there (Canada), the level was different. He kind of got away with playing outside.

Q to Vitt: Can you take us inside the draft room a little bit where you waited 27 hours to make a pick?

Mickey’s (Loomis) entertaining phone calls to move up or move down. This is a fun time of the year for us. We’re watching new rookies come into the league and try to match them up with the teams they’re going with, how they fit into those schemes. This is a fun time of the year. We’d much rather be picking in the first or second round, although we have a pretty good first round pick with Mark Ingram. We’d like to have our second round pick, but this is a fun time of the year.

Q to Vitt: Last year the defensive tackles had 1.5 sacks. Is that acceptable and is that one of the reasons this kid is coming in?

Vitt: Again, we took the best player on the board. Our tackles know they have to perform better. We feel we have a really good player in Sedrick Ellis and we’ll have improved play from that position and again this was the best player. When it got down to it, Mickey turned to Spags on Friday and we all agreed on this. This was the guy.

Spagnuolo: What would be interesting and I don’t have the stat in my head is what 4-3 teams what the numbers were for inside tackles. It’s tough for inside tackles on first and second down to create sacks from inside. I hope we do it, but it is hard.

Q to Spagnuolo: Did you have nicks graded a little higher?

Spagnuolo: He was about right.

Vitt: We had a group of players stacked that we felt would have a chance and he was at the very top of the list. Mickey (Loomis) had some phone calls and entertained trading down. He said we’ll move down if he gets picked before us. He fell to us and we took him.

Q to Spagnuolo: Although he came here from a small school, the fact that he was recruited to the SEC that sends a lot of good linemen to the NFL shows that people saw the potential in him?

I think you’re accurate about that. That would be correct. I forget the whole conversation that we talked about at the combine, but coming out of high school he had some opportunities, a couple of things ended up differently and he ended up in Canada.

Q to Vitt: Can you address what the priorities are heading into tomorrow?

(We pick) the best player. That’s what we’ve done here and it just so happens that this was somewhat of a need. We want to stick with the discipline of the board and if we like that player like we think we will, we’ll stay there. If not, Mickey will entertain some phone calls, but we’re going to take the best player that’s going to be best for our football team.

Q to Spagnuolo: Do you think the number of sacks from this team last year requires a talent upgrade or do you see that with the guys here with tweaks here and there that this can be a team that can be disruptive and cause turnovers?

This defense here in New Orleans has traditionally been a disruptive defense. I’ve seen that in the years I’ve been in the league. I don’t get too wrapped up in stats, but I do know and we all recognize that one of the stats that most directly relates to winning and losing than anything is turnovers, takeaways and giveaways. That’s always a focus. I know it has been here. It will continue to be. I remember Jim Johnson saying one time that really with these turnovers sometimes they come in bunches one way or another. Hopefully we’ve saved them up and we’ll get a bunch this year.

Q to Spagnuolo: Do you expect Akiem to come in to create depth or to come in and create competition?

A little bit of both. Probably depth first and then when he gets his feet underneath him and gets used to the speed of the game, which probably won’t even happen until a preseason game with the way the schedule goes.

Q to Spagnuolo: Is Greg Romeus healthy now?

Spagnuolo: He’s getting there.

Vitt: He’s had a great offseason. Two days ago I saw him out back running the hills. He has put in the time. He’s been dedicated. He’s worked hard with the trainers. Now he’s in the strength program. We’re excited about this player. We really are. We got a glimpse of him last year when he was on PUP and watched him practice a little bit and participate in our practices and we’re excited about this player.

Q to Vitt: How tough is it going through the draft and not knowing about potential player discipline?

Again that’s hypothetical. We’re going to play that hand when we get to it. We can do all the guessing and speculating we want. We’re not going to know until it’s handed down, if it’s handed down.

Q to Vitt: If you had to guess, what would Sean Payton’s reaction to this draft pick be?

That’s why we (he and Spagnuolo) came together. He’s looking at that TV right now and he’s mad. At the end of the day, Mickey (Loomis) and Sean have really developed this system of grading that we have for our college prospects and we stuck to the discipline of the board just like Sean and Mickey always have. There wasn’t a reach. It came right down to what we wanted and what we thought might be there and that’s what happened.


Vitt and Carmichael Talk About Drafting WR Nick Toon:

Nick Toon

New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt & Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael

Media Availability
Saturday, April 28, 2012

Watch the Presser

Opening Statement:

Vitt: We just selected Nick Toon from the University of Wisconsin. We’re excited about the pick. Number one, I think he has a great pedigree. His father, Al Toon played in the league for a long time. He was a guy that Henry Ellard our wide receivers coach really liked and graded him high. Our Area Scout Dwaune Jones really liked him. Our Director of College Scouting Rick Reiprish really liked him. This was another pick that was the best available player on the board. He’s a polished route-runner, can catch the ball outside the framework of his body and can make the big play. We have no durability issues on this player. We’re excited about him. Pete’s (Carmichael) looked at him more than me obviously as an offensive player

Does the drafting of Toon connect with any concerns about Adrian Arrington’s development?

Vitt: No, we like Adrian a lot. This was the next best player up there when we saw the grades. Henry Elllard really likes this guy. I knew Henry in L.A. as a player and I knew Henry in St. Louis as a coach. Henry Ellard has coached people like Torry Holt and Issac Bruce and Henry was really fired up about his route-running ability. (He’s) a really polished route-runner right now. He’s big, like we have in our system. He’s a Marques Colston type player at 6-3. This was a guy that Sean (Payton) met with at the combine extensively because Sean likes big receivers, so it’s just worked out perfect.

He’s had some injuries in his college career. What makes you so sure about his durability?

Vitt: Our doctors passed him on his physical. I believe he missed only one game his senior year, the Indiana game, where he probably could have played in the game. I think he’s going to have to work through some issues in the National Football League, but they all do. Robert Meachem missed his whole first year. We have good medical grades on him. We like his production with over 60 catches, so I think it was just one game he missed.

How much does losing Meachem make this pick possible?

Carmichael: We just looked at the board and he was the best available to us, so the thing about him too that he never mentioned is that he’s a real smart guy playing more than one position for us. We can put him inside or outside. As a player he has those abilities, as well as being able to run at those positions.

Does Nick Toon remind you of any other receiver that you’ve coached?

Carmichael: His range and his hands remind me more of (Marques) Colston. He runs better than I think people give him credit for. He was timed real well at the Combine. I think that speed shows up on film.

Did you want to come out of this year’s draft with a receiver?

Vitt: I can’t say that. Again, this was the next guy up on the board. There were some close grades up there, but when you look at the grades of Rick Reiprish, Dwaune Jones, Henry Ellard and Pete (Carmichael) had looked at the player, we just felt great about it.

How quickly do you expect him to be able to make an impact here?

Vitt: I think we all want them to come in and play as soon as they can. As I said before, Robert (Meachem) missed his whole first year and then came back and really made an impact for us in his second year. We like the way this guy can run routes right now. He’s competitive. He’ll fight you for the ball. He’s a good blocker. He’s in good shape right now. He’s excited to be here. We’re expecting the best.

Last year your first two picks were sons of former NFL players and now you have another one. Do you see anything different in those players in regards to their approach coming into the building?

Vitt: I’ve had a lot of them over the years. I just don’t think an NFL locker room is foreign to them. They’ve gone to work with their dads and have come to Saturday practices, and it just seems like it’s not too big for them. I can’t say that as a general rule, but it’s kind of the way I’ve been around it. It’s in the family. It’s in their blood. Every Thanksgiving, they’re watching football and watching bowl games. It’s just the way they were raised. I think it’s exciting.

Are you guys still looking at trading to get more picks?

Vitt: Mickey (Loomis) has been on the phone all day long. Mickey understands the value of the picks that we have and the value of the picks on the board. He’s constantly trying to get us good players and value the picks.

Is Mickey Loomis more involved today?

Vitt: I don’t think so. I think it’s been a normal day.


Saints Coaches Recap 2012 Draft Class:

New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael and Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon
Post-Draft Wrap-Up Media Availability
Saturday, April 28, 2012

Watch the Press Conference

Vitt Opening Statement: We would like to say that Sean (Payton) would have been so proud about how our scouts worked this weekend. They’ve been working hard here for the last month. The draft was extremely organized. There was really a great consensus on the players that we took. We took these players (and) they fit into the mode we want: their character, integrity, passion for the game and work habits. Mickey has always done a good job, but we’re proud of our scouts. That being said, we’ve talked about our first two picks. Corey White from Samford, a small school, we really liked. Kenny Flajole kind of got on this guy early. There was a consensus with the scouts and Spags. He’s a little bigger corner. We think he could have the opportunity to play some nickel. He did earlier in his career, but we’re excited about him. Tiller from Syracuse, we had a little bit of inside information. You guys all know Doug Marrone. He’s the head coach up at Syracuse now. He likes this prospect. He knows what we want here and feels that would be a fit for us. That’s the consensus among the coaches and the scouts and then with Marcel Jones from Nebraska. At this point in the draft, we took some height, weight, speed, a guy that had some intangibles we think can lend to our football team.

Spagnuolo Q: Are you looking to play White at corner initially rather than safety?

Yes, he has some length. We’re going to be a press team. He had shown he can do that pretty good.

Spagnuolo, Vitt, McMahon Q: Do you like his vertical ability?

Spagnuolo A: Yes, he showed that. He’s one of those guys that showed up a little bit at an all-star game…small-school player, but a guy that shows up. All the feedback we received from the coaches and the information was positive.

Vitt: I think one of the things that were impressive about him is that when he played against a big-time opponent he played really well.

McMahon: He jumped out in the Auburn game. We saw him on certainly defense and special teams. He’s a guy that when you come from a small school, you want to see him against good competition. He played well.

Vitt Q: Over the past two days you have talked about how the guys you have drafted have been at the top of your board in these draft locations. At the same time, do you think that you have satisfied any of your needs?

That’s a good question. We think we’re a pretty good football team and so it kind of gets to the point now where you don’t have to reach for a need. We’ve done a great job in the offseason with unrestricted free agency, so now, we had a pool of about 18 players that we thought would potentially be there in the third and fourth round and they were there and again, we didn’t reach on anybody. We let the board come to us and maintained the discipline of the draft.

Vitt Q: Was that unusual?

I thought it was smooth. I really did. There have been some hectic drafts that I’ve been a part of and we’ve all been a part of. This was well-organized. Mickey (Loomis) did a great job. Again, Sean (Payton) would have been so proud of our scouts. They did a great job. The coaches really did a great job in their evaluations. We feel good about it. We can’t wait to get them in two weeks. We’re having our minicamp and we’ll start to coach them up then.

Vitt Q: How tough is it to find gems in later rounds, even though this organization has historically been able to do so the last six years?

I think it’s how you look at it. In my hard and my mind right now, these guys are all Pro Bowl players until they prove us different. We think they have all the redeeming qualities necessary to make our football team and compete in the league. But we’ve had a lot of low round draft picks and (undrafted) free agents make this team. We’ve had a lot of players from small schools make this team. You make a team a lot of different ways in a lot of different phases with different backgrounds. Their intangibles, their character, football character, their tenacity and love for the game and resiliency (will help them).

Carmichael Q: Everybody will want to make comparisons of Andrew Tiller and Marcel Jones to the drafting of players like Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks and Zach Strief in middle to low rounds. Is that fair right now?

We’re excited about these two guys. We feel like there’s a chance for these guys to come in and contribute in some form and whether it’s a year or two down the road…To compare them, I don’t know if that’s fair right now, but we’re excited about (having) them.

Vitt and McMahon Q: When you look at the draft picks from rounds three to seven, where does special teams come into play as you have said this is a hard football team to make. Where does special teams go into the equation?

Vitt A: Every reading that we have on defense and three quarters of the readings we have on offense will have a special teams category in there. Mac, how many guys do you grade in there?

McMahon A: We do quite a few. Every linebacker, every defensive player we do.

Vitt A: When we look at a player we want to see how they’re going to contribute, how many snaps can we project per game. That all goes into it.

Vitt Q: It’s been said that you should often take an offensive lineman late in the draft due to the maturation process. What goes into the maturation process of a rookie offensive lineman?

When you get late in the draft, I think there are two positions. I think offensive line is one. You’ve got to have the size, you’ve got to have to have the mass and you’ve got to have the footwork and hand placement to be able to compete in this league. When you get a guy who has those qualities that you covet, you take a chance on him. At cornerback, a guy may not have played very well in the beginning of his career and maybe didn’t have a good senior year, but he has the speed, the recover ability, the hips and the fluidness to break on the ball. I think those are the two positions you take a chance on late in the draft. If you go back with the history of our draft, that’s what Al Davis used to make a living on was the late-round picks. Gil Brandt with the Dallas Cowboys when there were 15 or 16 rounds in a draft (is another example). Those guys made a living at that stuff. To a degree we still do it.

Vitt Q: Do you all find yourselves being more cohesive as an entity until Sean Payton gets back in regards to coaching instead of just one figurehead?

This is Sean’s (Payton) football team. Sean brought us all together and we’re going to work hard to make him proud. We don’t want to let him down. We’re going to work as hard as we can not to let our players down. We’re going to work together and be responsible so we don’t let Mr. Benson down. We have a close, cohesive staff. We’ve always had that and our players see that. You can’t fool players. I’m not going to say that this is going to be easy. This is going to be a challenge. I’ve said this in the press conference the other day, we built a football team to coincide with the resiliency of this city when we first got down here. We’re tough enough to whether this storm. We have the right people and the right coaches and we’re looking forward to it.

Vitt Q: Without a first or second round pick in this year’s draft, was there less pressure on you all with the draft selections in the later rounds?

I can tell you this, when we lose our first game we’re not going to look at each other and say, ‘Well at least we didn’t have a second round pick. That’s the excuse for losing.’ We’re going to coach the guys we have here. We’re going to coach them as hard as we can. We all know that our responsibility is to get our players better and then collectively get our team better. We talked about this as a staff, the glass is half full. Mark Ingram and Greg Romeus were our first two picks this year and then we went to the third round and got (Akiem) Hicks. We’ve got good football players. We’re excited about our draft and we’re excited about the prospects.

Vitt Q: Why will Akiem Hicks be different from Al Woods?

I think this guy (Akiem Hicks) has a quicker twitch, he has better feet and he uses his better. Off the top of my head, that’s what I’ve seen in the evaluation.

Spagnuolo Q: Some people had Corey White in the 600’s for available prospects. What went into evaluating him so high?

Joe (Vitt) hit it when he said we put a premium on corners in the package we’re going to run on arm length, height and his press ability. He showed that he was able to do that in this system. We have corners that have done that a lot. I think he’ll fit in that way. He played at a small school so you’ll get dinged for that a little bit and I don’t know if that’s always fair. That’s what our scouts dug up, a good name, a good prospect, we all looked at him and thought he was a pretty good football player.

Vitt Q: Do you feel like you’re finished filling in with free agency?

No, we’re never done. We’re going to look at the board every day. Mickey (Loomis) and Ryan Pace are going to always look to upgrade our football team. It’s funny, the draft just happened and now there’s going to be a second wave of cuts around the league. We’re going to evaluate that and see how we can upgrade our football team. That’s an ongoing process.

Vitt Q: Are you beginning the undrafted rookie free agency signing period now?

We’re going right now.

Vitt Q: Is there a number of incoming rookie free agents you’re trying to hit?

There is, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. I think it’s 18 to fill out the roster to get to 90 (players).

Vitt Q: Do you think the NFC is going to be stronger this year?

I think the conference is going to be better this year. I think our division is going to be better this year just with the players that came in last year coming into their second year. I think Cam Newton is going to be better, I think Julio Jones is going to be better and we’ve got to work hard to get better. You can’t speculate on the draft picks coming in this year. I know this; we’re going to love every one of these guys coming in here. We learned a long time ago as coaches that you have to love the one you’re with. I’ve been married 31 years and I wasn’t my wife’s first choice, I can promise you that. That’s what we’re going to do.


Saints Announce 2012 Rookie Free Agent Class
Saints bring in 18 undrafted free agents:

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced Monday that 18 undrafted rookie free agents have agreed to terms with the team following the conclusion of the NFL Draft. Joining the Saints will be linebackers Kadarron Anderson, Stephen Johnson and Aaron Tevis, wide receivers Malcolm Beyah, Chris Givens and Kevin Hardy, defensive end Braylon Broughton, defensive end/defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, tight end Jake Byrne, running back Travaris Cadet, defensive back A.J. Davis, center Brian Folkerts, safeties Jose Gumbs, Jerico Nelson and Johnny Thomas, tackles Dan Hoch and Aderious Simmons and return specialist Laron Scott.

The following is an outline of the 18 players who – along with the club’s five draft choices and other tryout players – will be coming to New Orleans to participate in the team’s rookie minicamp, scheduled to take place May 11-13.

1. Kadarron Anderson – Linebacker, Furman (6-1, 235): Anderson was a three-year starter at middle linebacker for the Paladins, leading the team in tackles each of these seasons, overall recording 372 stops, including 21 for a loss in his 44-game career. The Greenwood, S.C. native was a three-time All-Southern Conference pick, who recorded 111 stops, 5.5 for a loss, two sacks, three pass defenses and two forced fumbles as a senior.

2. Malcolm Beyah – Wide Receiver, Middle Tennessee State (5-11, 192): In four seasons, at Middle Tennessee State Beyah appeared in 46 games and recorded 115 receptions for 1,500 yards (13.0 avg.) with 14 touchdowns. As a senior in 2011, the Covington, Ga. native appeared in 11 games and finished with 45 receptions for a team-best 497 yards (11.0 avg.) with six touchdowns.

3. Braylon Broughton – Defensive End, TCU (6-6, 272): Broughton was a three-year letterman for the Horned Frogs, playing in 42 games with five starts over his collegiate career. The Dallas native had career totals of 45 tackles (32 solo), 9.5 stops for a loss, three sacks, three pass defenses, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one blocked kick. As a senior in 2011, Broughton appeared in 13 games and started five games for the Rose Bowl Champions, leading TCU with six tackles for a loss as he recorded 25 stops (12 solo) overall, two sacks and one blocked kick.

4. Jake Byrne – Tight End, Wisconsin (6-4, 260): Byrne was a four-year letterman for the Badgers, appearing in 50 games and recording six receptions for 57 yards and one touchdown. The native of Rogers, Ark. appeared in all 13 games in 2011, recording one 14-yard reception while blocking for the nation’s fourth-ranked scoring offense.

5. Travaris Cadet – Running Back, Appalachian State (6-1, 210): After originally coming to Appalachian State as a quarterback in 2009, Cadet was converted to running back and evolved into one of the most explosive all-purpose players in the Football Championship Subdivision as he closed his career with 336 carries for 1,688 yards (5.0 avg.), 57 receptions for 572 yards with two touchdowns, while also handling kickoff and punt return duties in 39 games, starting 19 of them. Overall, he racked up 3,929 all-purpose yards, as he was a two-time All-Southern Conference selection at running back and also earned all-conference recognition once as a return specialist. As a senior, the Miami native had 151 carries for 651 yards (4.3 avg.) with six touchdowns and a career-high 34 receptions for 333 yards with one touchdown, as he posted 1,603 all-purpose yards.

6. A.J. Davis – Defensive Back, Jacksonville State (6-0, 183): Davis finished his four-year career at Jacksonville State with 126 tackles (97 solo), 17 pass defenses, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one blocked kick. He earned all-OVC honors in 2011 as a senior, as he finished with 28 solo tackles, two interceptions, five pass defenses and one fumble recovery.

7. Brian Folkerts – C, Washburn (6-4, 310): Folkerts was a four-year letterman at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. The Florissant, Mo. native played in 44 games, making 39 starts at both the right and left tackle positions. Folkerts earned several Division 2 All-American honors as a senior, helping the Ichabods to the fourth ranked passing offense in the country and the fifth ranked offensive team.

8. Chris Givens – Wide Receiver, Miami (Ohio) (6-2, 203): Givens, a Chilicothe, Ohio native, recorded 157 receptions for 2,121 yards and 15 touchdowns in his five-year career as he ranked seventh in Redhawks record books in both catches and yardage. As a redshirt senior in 2011, Givens had 60 receptions for 695 yards (11.6 avg.) with five touchdowns.

9. Jose Gumbs – Safety, Monmouth (5-10, 210): Gumbs was a four-year starter for Monmouth, leading the team in tackles all four seasons as a Hawk, finishing third in school history with 306 stops (188 solo). In 2011, the Queens, N.Y. native was selected as a third team All-American as he led the NEC in forced fumbles with four, had nine pass defenses, two interceptions and blocked three kicks, while finishing with 75 total tackles.

10. Kevin Hardy – Wide Receiver, Citadel (6-0, 186): Hardy played four seasons for the Bulldogs and saw action in 44 games, playing both wideout and handling returns. As a senior in 2011, the Ocala, Fla. Native ranked sixth in the Southern Conference with an average of 24.4 yards per kickoff return, with his 716 all-purpose yards ranking second on the team.

11. Dan Hoch – Tackle, Missouri (6-7, 320): Hoch was a three-year starter at right tackle for the University of Missouri. The Harlan, Iowa native once again handled starting right tackles duties and was a 2011 All-Big 12 honorable mention selection, playing a role in Mizzou’s potent offense as the team ranked 11th nationally rushing and 13th in net yards per game while surrendering only 18 sacks.

12. Stephen Johnson – Linebacker, Temple (6-1, 230): Johnson entered Temple as a walk-on in 2007 and did not see action with the Owls until 2010, recording career statistics of 154 tackles, two sacks, four forced fumbles, one interception and six pass defenses. However, the Norristown, Pa. native saw his first action as a junior and became Temple’s starting middle linebacker in 2011, as he led them in tackles (123), while adding two sacks, five pass defenses and three forced fumbles.

13. Jerico Nelson – Safety, Arkansas (5-10, 216): This former Destrehan High School standout played in 49 games over four seasons for the Razorbacks, making 169 tackles, 27 for a loss, 10.5 sacks, four interceptions, nine pass defenses, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. As a senior, Nelson recorded 70 stops (33 solo), 5.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two pass defenses and one fumble recovery.

14. Laron Scott – Return Specialist, Georgia Southern (5-9, 179): The Warner Robins, Ga. Native set a school record as a senior with 2,257 kickoff return yards with three touchdowns, as his 30.6 average ranked third in the FCS. Scott also started all 40 games of his college career at cornerback in Statesboro at cornerback and finished with 12 interceptions.

15. Aderious Simmons – Tackle, Arizona State (6-7, 308): Simmons, a graduate of John Ehret High School who did not play high school football, returns to his hometown to compete for a roster spot. After beginning his college career at Pasadena (Calif.) City College and El Camino (Calif.) Junior College, Simmons transferred to Arizona State in 2010 and appeared in 13 games with nine starts in two seasons for the Sun Devils.

16. Aaron Tevis – Linebacker, Boise State (6-3, 234): Tevis was a three-year starter and four-year letterman for Boise State, finishing his college career with 173 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss and seven interceptions. The Tucson, Ariz. native started all 13 games as a senior in 2011 and registered 46 tackles (20 solo), including 2.5 for a loss with one interception.

17. Johnny Thomas – Safety, Oklahoma State (5-11, 205): Thomas lettered three years for the Cowboys, appearing in 35 games, making 100 tackles (79 solo), three interceptions, six pass defenses, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. As a junior, the Texas City, Texas native started 11 games at free safety and recorded 63 stops (51 solo), three interceptions, five pass defenses, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

18. Tyrunn Walker – Defensive End/Defensive Tackle, Tulsa (6-3, 294): Walker is a New Iberia native, who started his career at Jones County (Miss.) Junior College and after transferring to Tulsa started in all 26 career games, totaling 84 tackles, 25.5 stops for a loss and 13.5 sacks, 11 pass defenses, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.


You can subscribe to the New Orleans Saints Feed or follow me on Twitter @realheavyd.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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