Heading into last week’s NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints knew they were in need of offensive and defensive linemen and quality players within the secondary.
Mission accomplished. The Saints drafted all of those things throughout the three-day draft.
The Black and Gold added five players to its roster in the 2013 NFL Draft.
While acquiring players at positions of need, General Manager Mickey Loomis said the team got all of its goals accomplished during the seven-round affair.
“I think it went well,” Loomis said. “I think it went real well. … I like the way that (things) came out for us, most definitely.”
With the 15th overall pick in the draft, the Saints first eyeballed the secondary, selecting Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.
A 6-foot, 1-inch, 218-pound safety, Vaccaro lands in New Orleans after recording 104 tackles with two interceptions last year at Texas.
The physical safety said he’s excited to join the Saints’ safety corps, which includes Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper.
“I’m excited to come down there and play,” Vaccaro said. “The Saints were my last visit and I just had a really good feeling walking out of there that I might be a Saint. I’m excited to get down there and play some football.”
After picking Vaccaro, the Saints waited a while before making another pick.
The NFL took away the team’s second round pick as part of a punishment from the Saints’ role in its alleged bounty program.
But in the third round, the Saints were active, selecting Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive tackle Terron Armstead and Georgia defensive tackle Jonathan Jenkins.
Armstead is a raw prospect who the Saints hope will develop into the team’s starting left tackle. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Armstead ran the fastest 40-yard dash of all offensive linemen in the draft.
“He can run,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He’s very athletic. I think he’ll put some weight on. … He’s someone that’s very intelligent and has good length.”
Jenkins lands in New Orleans after a decorated SEC career with the Bulldogs.
But to land the 358-pound nose tackle, the Saints had to part ways with a fan-favorite.
To get an extra third-round pick, the Saints traded halfback Christopher Ivory to the New York Jets for their fourth-round pick.
The Saints then packaged the Jets’ pick and their own fourth-round pick to get the 20th pick of the third round from the Miami Dolphins – the pick they used to nab Jenkins.
Payton said Jenkins will likely replace Sedrick Ellis, whom Loomis said is “likely not in the team’s plans” going forward.
But the head coach said losing Ivory is a tough price to pay.
“I had an opportunity to speak with Chris shortly after (the trade),” Payton said. “We feel like he’s someone that is a very good running back. … He’s someone that I value. … It’s a great opportunity. I’m excited for him.”
In the fifth round of the draft, the Saints got a new weapon for Drew Brees. The Black and Gold added Oklahoma receiver Kenny Stills, who lands in the professional ranks after hauling in 204 passes for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in three seasons with the Sooners.
Stills said he’s excited to be playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
“It’s a prolific offense and a huge opportunity for me to go in and play with veterans, learn and be a sponge,” Stills said.
With their final pick of the draft, the Saints further padded their defensive line depth, selecting defensive end Rufus Johnson of Tarleton Stage.
Johnson earned his mark thanks to his size and strength.
The new Saint stands 6-feet, 6-inches and weighs 268 pounds.