LSU running back Leonard Fournette was on hand Friday for the Saints‘ local pro day, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). Fournette didn’t go through workouts, however, tweets Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. Barring something unexpected, odds are the Saints won’t emerge from Round 1 with Fournette. They’re set to pick 11th, while Fournette appears likely to come off the board in the top five.
Fournette isn’t the only running back the Saints have discussed. Continuing a candid offseason, Sean Payton offered effusive praise for Christian McCaffrey to the extent of giving the Stanford dual-threat back a hypothetical role in his offense.
“I’ve got a crystal-clear vision of the player. He’d be like Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush for us, kind of the Joker role. But I think you have to have him on a pitch count,” Payton told TheMMQB.com’s Peter King (via Nick Underhill of The Advocate).
McCaffrey has not visited the Saints, and this is full-on smokescreen time. But if nothing else, Payton would have an apparent fit for McCaffrey alongside Mark Ingram. The fast-rising McCaffrey’s stock could force a trade-up from the Saints’ first selection window, but the team is believed to be focused on continuing their defensive rebuild.
Here’s more out of New Orleans.
- Adrian Peterson wouldn’t appear to complement Ingram as well as McCaffrey could, being a run-centric veteran, but a 1-2 punch between Ingram and Peterson is still possible, per Underhill. Peterson would serve as Ingram’s backup in this arrangement, Underhill writes, to the point that the Saints might not be inclined to give Peterson more than Ingram’s $3.7MM salary for 2017. Peterson’s New Orleans visit reportedly went well.
- In addition to a meeting with Zach Cunningham, the Saints met with SEC linebackers Reuben Foster and Kendell Beckwith, Underhill reports. New Orleans also met with UCLA edge defender Takkarist McKinley. Beckwith (LSU), McKinley and Cunningham (Vanderbilt) joined Foster during his meeting with the Saints last week. Underhill reports Foster’s meeting went well. The Saints drafted Stephone Anthony two years ago to potentially man that spot, but the experiment hasn’t gone well and has led to Anthony moving to the strong side. The team remains in search of a long-term cog at that spot. The Saints would reportedly “love” to draft Foster at No. 11.
- An Adderall-induced suspension led to Kenny Vaccaro‘s stock falling a bit last season, but the fourth-year safety wanted to assure Payton such a mishap wouldn’t again occur. “It was selfish of me, and I’m just mad I couldn’t be out there with my teammates. I’ll never do that again,” Vaccaro said, via The Advocate. “I think the Saints knew that. Coach Payton was real cool about the whole process. I think he knew it was an honest mistake.” The safety wants to sign a long-term extension to stay in Louisiana, but those talks aren’t expected to commence until the summer.
Connor Byrne contributed to this report.