The NFL Combine week starts Wednesday of this week and runs through next Tuesday the 28th, so we’ll get our first look at this year’s rookie class running through drills. The NFL Network, per always, will have 24/7 coverage on the proceedings. Today also marks the first day teams can place the franchise tag on a free agent of their own team, with the deadline for that designation being March 5th. I doubt you’ll see many of those being placed before March 5th because most teams will attempt to finalize a long term deal before they settle on the protection of the tag. Tags will only get placed in most cases once it becomes clear they can’t re-sign their designated player without that security blanket.
Below are 5 random names I’m going to throw out there of potential targets for the Saints with the 59th overall pick, their first. The tricky part about this pick is a lot of these guys could be gone, or still available. It’s just so hard to predict with the 59th pick because most team’s boards are so different. Still, they have a solid shot at the 5 I list below. These are guys you’ll want to keep an eye on during the combine.
1. Jonathan Massaquoi DE/OLB Troy – He’s Mohammed Massaquoi’s cousin (and also Visanthe Shiancoe’s) so he’s got NFL pedigree already, and while he perhaps fits best as a 3-4 outside linebacker, he’s got the kind of elite pass rushing skills that are just too good to ignore. With bulk he could become a defensive end. He’s a guy the Saints could draft and immediately upgrade their front four pressure over night. In many ways he reminds me of a more explosive Junior Galette, though he’s raw and he’s a question mark both against the run and in football IQ. Probably a situational player early in his career until he gets coached up.
2. Rueben Randle WR LSU – Before you mock me for this homer pick, there’s a decent chance he’ll be available as a value pick here and the Saints are at high risk of losing both Meachem and Colston. He’s got speed, hands, size, all of the above. He’s got everything you want to have in a receiver. If the Saints do indeed lose either aforementioned regulars, Randle could step in and be a suitable replacement pretty quickly.
3. Lavonte David LB Nebraska – Make no mistake about it, this kid can play and he is a complete linebacker. He can run, tackle, seek the football, and he can cover. His lone liability is that he’s small and his frame is largely filled out. Whether that means he’ll have to move from inside backer to weakside outside backer remains to be seen. Size hasn’t stopped the Saints from getting production out of Brees, Lance Moore, Sproles and others in the past. This guy is a football player and if he falls to the Saints they need to take him.
4. Kendall Reyes DT Connecticut – He’s a monster inside presence with soaring stock based on his performance at the senior bowl. He also creates pressure at an impressive rate given his size. He’s a solid athlete and a smart player.
5. Sean Spence OLB Miami – He’s the kind of explosive playmaker the Saints could really use in the front 7. He’s fast and he has a nose for the football. He’s also adept at making plays in the backfield. My biggest concern with him is whether he fits the Saints’ character prototype.