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Sean Payton recaps the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft
April 28, 2017 05:50 AM | NewOrleansSaints.com
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

NFL Draft Round One Press Conference

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Opening Statement:

"(We) Thought it was one of the more interesting drafts we've been in with some of the selections at the top of the draft and kind of how it unfolded. There is always a little bit of unpredictability with regards to what certain teams may or may not do. We thought there might be two quarterbacks taken before our pick and I think the receiver position maybe there was one more taken then we would have expected. We didn't feel like in a lot of our own mocks and maybe our own projections that we'd have a chance at Marshon (Lattimore). We're excited, real excited about him being there at 11. Then as you get deeper in the draft you're trying to look at best available player and with Ryan (Ramczyk) for us there was a big gap with our grade with him to the next group of players. We felt like it was a good first day for us, but I think all 32 teams feel that way and time will tell."

Do you feel like at 11 you had a lot of players you could've selected from?

"Yes, we did and yet we weren't looking at it like just necessarily all these defensive players. Malik (Hooker) was one. There were a couple players that just kind of maybe were projected to go earlier. Jonathan Allen is a real good football player. It's just hard to factor in some of the other needs and some of the other evaluations of the other teams, but probably one of our best scenarios would be to have that corner be available so we wait ten minutes just to make sure there are no other offers, but we felt real excited about the way it unfolded."

Does your relationship with Urban Meyer factor in to drafting Ohio State players?

"No, we had a pretty good grasp as to their draft class, but I don't know that factored in as much. Certainly you talk to Michael Thomas a few months ago about the early part of the process and thoughts that he had on some of his players. There is valuable information when you're able to talk to players on your own team with regards to a free agent or maybe someone that's relatively new that would be able to give you a little bit of background, but I think that we value obviously his prototype, his size. We value his speed, he has tremendous ball skills and there were a number of things that when you get a high-graded player at a position of need then it becomes an easier selection and in this case that was that player."

Is he more of an outside guy or inside player?

"I think he is an outside player and I'm not saying he can't play inside, but I think he goes to one side of the ball or the other and depending on what you're doing by scheme, but that would be the evaluation."

Was the possibility of this one of the reasons you didn't trade for a veteran cornerback?

"Yes and yet all of those things still remain open. If we're in the draft at some point and we feel like the grade on a particular player is such that we'd draft (but) again the key is the vision with both players we drafted. Today the vision was pretty clear."

Did anybody talk to you about moving down or did you feel like Marshon Lattimore would fall to you?

"No, we had a lot of conversations about backing up a couple, three or four. It would be normal during that time frame a couple picks prior and often times those discussions are always the idea if this guy is not available then can we back up. We had those conversations at pick 32 as well and ultimately you weigh the options and I think at 11 clearly for us we weren't going to move out of that pick. We had talks about moving up a couple of picks just to secure Marshon (Lattimore) and yet it happened at a fairly good rate. There was one trade up. Kansas City came up and got Patrick (Mahomes). I think there were a few things that took place that gave us this opportunity and we felt pretty good about how it worked out."

Marshon Lattimore said that you didn't bring him in for a visit.

"Well, we were all there for the pro day, had dinner and spent time with him. We felt like we had a pretty good handle on our evaluation with him. There are a handful of reasons why someone might come in. We may not have had the exposure postseason, maybe it would be a medical or maybe it would be character or makeup that we want to go through. Clearly with him we didn't feel the need to."

Was there a realistic possibility that you would have considered a quarterback today?

"Yes. I think being true to the board and looking closely at how you have players graded. I think that when you have two picks, you have a little bit of flexibility. We feel like we have a number of needs and we felt like we got a good start on addressing those today."

Would you have considered Reuben Foster with that last pick?

"We would have. We spent a lot of time in his evaluation. He was in a few weeks ago. We spent a lot of time with him and yet he was one of the higher graded players obviously I think for a lot of people. He was definitely someone that would have been (considered). We were discussing him, Ryan (Ramczyk), Takk (McKinley) and another player. Just like other teams, there are a handful of these players that just went off the board there later at the end of that round. It worked out well."

Is your vision for Ryan Ramczyk at right tackle?

"We see him as a tackle. He'll probably come in and we look at him as a right tackle."

Why would he have been rated higher than the best pass rusher you had at that time?

"There is a considerable jump. Our grade on Ryan was at the top half of round one, inside of a grade of 15. The next pass rusher grade would be somewhere tomorrow. There was a big gap. We weren't going to go away from just a clear gap in grades. He was a player graded in the first round by every one of our scouts. We felt good about that."

Marshon Lattimore had a history with some hamstrings, but obviously your medical evaluation passed.

"It was pretty simple. He has missed some time. The good news is that he just came off of a year playing healthy. Obviously, it is something that you have to work on maintaining and all of the things that he'll have to do in regards to hydration and taking care of himself. He is kind of one of those guys that's wound tight. But it wasn't a medical grade that said hey, this guy is only going to have two or three more years. It was more of we've got to be smart with our attention and the workload he's receiving. It's just that he's one of those types of players. Certainly, it's an alert in regards to just how we train and making sure that he's on a good maintenance schedule."

Does the same thing apply to Ryan Ramczyk who is coming off of a hip surgery?

"His is different. He is coming off of a core muscle injury and a hip surgery. We feel like he'll be ready by the start of training camp. We'll be able to obviously get the mental part of what we are doing here in the next month. We felt good about his prognosis as well."

You said that you wanted to get a young offensive lineman; why is it important to continue to bolster the depth on the offensive line?

"We think it is important to build your team in the front and we've invested a lot of picks on the defensive and offensive lines. I think that'll pay dividends for us. Those are hard positions and it is hard to find tackles. When you can get young ones - we've been fortunate in having some success with drafting offensive linemen, not only in the first round but in later rounds. I think there is value in that player and again we like that he is prototype size, we love the makeup and there were a lot of things that we felt real good about. When you look at the grade and where he was at, we were excited."

How much of it is also that you kind of like what you are seeing with (Andrus) Peat working at left guard?

"You answer the vision question, what is our vision? I think throughout the room, right tackle, so the vision was clear. You have the athletic ability, you have the size at a position that we think is important to draft. It's a lot harder to find after four years or when someone is hitting free agency."

Do you have anybody graded in the first round that is still standing?

"There are a handful of guys with a first round grade that are there tonight and hopefully, knock on wood, that we'll have a chance at possibly drafting with our next pick. That'd be pretty normal. The later the draft goes on, the more realistic that if you're selecting in the fourth round, you're probably drafting someone that you maybe had a second or third round grade. When you get into the sixth round, you're probably drafting someone you had with a third round grade. As it fans out, the varying opinions around the league force that to happen."

Did Ryan Palmer and Jordan Spieth approve of those picks?

"They were not around for the second one. They had a curfew. Those guys came by and they played well today. I think to some degree all of us want to be inside the ropes in some way, shape or form. They were able to kind of see first-hand a little bit of what it's like. They brought us some good luck. Hopefully they continue to do well. They had a good first day, didn't they?"

Where did you have Marshon Lattimore ranked?

"He was three or four for us. He was up there."

What was the reaction in the room?

"It was outstanding. Through a lot of the different scenarios, he was one of those players we felt would be difficult to anticipate him being there. Things happen and each team has a certain goal and a certain way they want to approach it. Right from the beginning when Ryan Pace and Chicago went up to two and took a quarterback, that surprised a lot of people I think. There were other positions we thought they might be drafting and right away, there were some fluid surprises."

Did you guys call Ryan and thank him?

"No. Nope. I think you really get to see teams and what their goals were. You saw some receivers go earlier than you thought. That is the good thing, or the exciting about this day and this draft is the little bit of the unpredictability and despite as much coverage as it gets. There are always those three, four or five early surprises and I thought today was no different."

Can you say which concern led Reuben Foster to fall as far as he did?

"I do not want to speak on other teams. He's going to rehab his shoulder and he's a tough exciting football player to watch. There's a handful of guys that stood out and he was definitely one of those guys if you just put the tape on and you did not say anything, at some point someone's going to ask the question... Who's this guy? I thought Takkarist Mckinley was one of those players. If you just put the tape on. Sometimes it is a little bit harder for a player based on the position they play to show up early, but those guys are exciting players and I'll be anxious to follow their careers."

Why do you think so many offensive players went so high?

"It's hard to tell. It's hard to predict. Obviously, there's always the quarterback factor and that's significant and obviously for a number of good reasons. I think three tight ends got selected today. That was a little surprising. The receivers we talked about went early. It is just hard to predict and I think that there weren't a bunch of offensive lineman. When you look at this draft, in those first 15 picks, we are looking at one, two, maybe three offensive lineman in the first 18 or 20 picks. I think a lot of the mocks and I think a lot of thought was that those defensive players would go off the board and a number of them did. It was just a few offensive players slide into the draft that maybe people didn't expect. Really it's all about the team and them making a selection. A lot will be written in the next three, four or five days and I think the teams are worried about what is written three or four years from now in regards to the player. That's how we kind of look at it. It's sticking to your grades and the strength of how you feel about the player."

What kept you from trading up to get Lattimore?

"No. We had a couple discussions. It was a little pricey. We just felt like this next couple rounds of this draft was where the strength of this daft was and to not have pick 42 or even the two threes (was a negative). I think this is the strength of this draft, we're going to see tomorrow. Just looking at the list before coming down here, there are lot of good football players still on the (draft) board. We felt like it was hard to think about with the number of needs we have... a two for one (was tough to consider). Ultimately, that was the sense."

You sign Adrian Peterson and now you take a tackle from a run-heavy offense. Are you thinking about putting more focus on the run game?

"That emphasis will have and it has been something that has been (happening) when we are playing well. The selection of the tackle was a position that we identified and yet, the grade really jumped out and that stood out. By the time we got in to the ladder part of the round, there was his magnet (Ramczyk) and Reuben Foster's magnet before you got to the next group of players. That is just how we had it graded. That does not mean everyone else had it graded that way."

How do you react to Christian Mccaffrey going to a division rival?

"That is another good football player. When you watch the draft, you are looking for where players go and then you are keeping track of your division. Tampa Bay got a tight end, Atlanta got a good pass rusher and Carolina got a real good running back."

Zach Strief has been here for 11 years and has been your offensive tackle. How do you envision Ryan effecting that?

"That will take care of itself. It always does. There will be competition and not only at that position but a lot others. I think that will take care of itself."

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