METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Sean Payton and the Saints absorbed one final bounty blow, then went about a busy third round of the NFL draft that landed a pair of prospects who could strengthen their offensive and defensive lines.
The Saints selected offensive tackle Terron Armstead with their own pick, then made a pair of quick trades — one sending running back Chris Ivory to the New York Jets — that allowed New Orleans to also draft defensive tackle John Jenkins in the round.
"It's been kind of busy," Payton said shortly after the third round ended.
The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Armstead, picked 75th overall out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, was New Orleans' first pick Friday night. The Saints were docked their second-round selection as part of their punishment stemming from the NFL's 2012 bounty findings. That was the last remaining sanction from the bounty matter that overshadowed the Saints' 2012 season and also resulted in a season-long suspension of Payton.
In order to get Jenkins, the Saints first traded Ivory to the Jets for a fourth-round pick. New Orleans then sent both its own fourth-round pick and the one acquired from New York to Miami in exchange for the Dolphins' 82nd overall choice.
Payton said Miami had about a minute left on the clock for the 82nd pick when the deal went through to let the Saints draft at that spot instead. He added that he will miss Ivory, but that the reserve running back was one asset the Saints could afford to trade in order to provide more help to a defense that needs it. Although Ivory had proved he could be powerful, punishing runner with big-play ability, he had remained fourth on the Saints' depth chart behind Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.
"We felt coming into this offseason that there was one position where we had solid depth, more than enough depth if you will that — how could we possibly use that to help ourselves either defensively or another position need," Payton said. "In this case, it ended up being part of how we were able to help ourselves defensively."
The pick of Armstead was announced by former Saints special teams leader Steve Gleason, who has ALS and used a computer voice that mimics the real voice he lost to make the announcement at the podium in New York.
Armstead gives the Saints depth at offensive tackle following the departure of former starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod to Chicago in free agency. Charles Brown, a 2010 second-round pick out of Southern California, could be Bushrod's successor at that spot, but Armstead said he hopes to compete for playing time immediately.
"I really don't see myself sitting out," Armstead said. "I love being on the field and I have a problem sitting on the bench. I know I have a lot to learn and I'm willing and ready to learn as fast as I can, as fast as I possibly can to get on the field."
Armstead started all 12 games at left tackle in his senior season. He also was invited to play at both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
He not only played football at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but also was on the track and field team, competing in the shot put. He was an All-Southwestern Athletic Conference player three times in football and took shot put titles as well.
He also is known to have exceptional foot speed for an offensive lineman, running the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds.
Payton repeatedly highlighted Armstead's athleticism while talking about him, but said it was too early to say how long it would take him to learn the nuances of the NFL left tackle position well enough to protect Drew Brees' blind side.
"I know he's going to be able to come in here and compete for that opportunity, but we've got players ahead of him that are going to be doing the same thing," Payton said.
Two of the Saints' first three picks will join a defense that gave up an NFL single-season record 7,042 yards last season, and which is being revamped under new coordinator Rob Ryan.
The Saints took Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro with their first-round pick, 15th overall, on Thursday night. Payton said the Saints also were looking for a big body on the interior of the defensive line, and the 6-foot-4, 346-pound Jenkins fit that description.
Jenkins started 13 games for Georgia last season and was credited with 50 tackles, including two for losses and a sack. He played nose tackle in Georgia's 3-4 defense and was credited for creating a lot of pressure on the quarterback and forcing hurried throws. That resume appears to make Jenkins a good fit in the new 3-4 defense Ryan is installing in New Orleans this season.
Payton said the Saints got to know Jenkins and several other Georgia prospects very well, in part because they interviewed Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for the same job in New Orleans before ultimately hiring Ryan instead.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
Posted on Sat, April 27, 2013