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Tulane Kicker Cairo Santos A Possible Rookie Target for Saints?

I've been saying long and loud that the Saints need to have a serious kicker competition this camp. If Shayne Graham wins the competition, he was recently re-signed by the way, then fine. But I want him to have to earn it. Currently the Saints have Graham and youngster Derek Dimke from Illinois. Dimke, 23, has had try outs with three other teams but has yet to make a real NFL game appearance. Based on that it's hard to see him winning the job from Shayne Graham unless the veteran completely implodes. And since Graham holds down the "veteran with experience" quota of the competition, I'd really like to see the Saints add a young stud kicker to compete with him. Based on what's happened with Cairo Santos so far, it seems the Saints agree. Santos has already mentioned he views playing with the Saints as "ideal", he's already been talking to special teams coach Greg McMahon, and the Saints are one of three teams he has a scheduled interview with this weekend (the Falcons and Cardinals are the others).

The "fit" for Santos is obvious. 

First, he kicked for Tulane in the Superdome. He's familiar with the field, the conditions, and he's had a ton of success kicking in that stadium. Originally from Brazil, he seems to be very comfortable and happy in New Orleans. The Saints also have some good intel on what kind of person he is from their former wide receiver coach Curtis Johnson (now Tulane's head coach) and now Saints' quarterback coach Mike Neu (was with Tulane last season). Further, Saints' backup QB Ryan Griffin has a decent shot at being the holder next season and I'm guessing he has at least some passing familiarity with Santos having played with him for a few years at Tulane… which could be a nice added bonus for chemistry. 

It remains to be seen if Cairo Santos will be drafted. He's listed as a top 3 rookie kicker pretty much universally. He was a career 78.2% conversion rate kicker in four years at Tulane, including 21 for 21 in 2012 when he won the Lou Groza Award for the best kicker in college football. His 2013 wasn't as strong but he travelled back to Brazil in the middle of the season to deal with the loss of his father so there's no doubt that affected him to some degree on the field. Most project he'll either be drafted in the 7th round, or an undrafted free agent (Chris Boswell of Rice and Anthony Fera of Texas project to be drafted in 6th round approx). 

The Saints don't have a 7th round pick, but it's possible they could reach for Santos with their 6th rounder which is fairly late in the round (26th out of 32 before compensatory picks). They could also try to land an extra pick in the 7th round or hope he goes undrafted, in which case I would absolutely put the Saints as a the front runners to sign him. We'll see what happens, but at this point I'd almost call it an upset if he's not wearing black and gold come preseason. It just makes too much sense for the Saints to land him.

 

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I like the Saints. A lot.

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