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5 priorities for the Saints at 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The vast majority of NFL scouts, coaches, agents will all gather for the biggest league convention of the year this week at the combine in Indianapolis. While the focus is typically on the players entering the draft, teams and agents ...

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Old 02-26-2019, 06:50 AM   #1
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The vast majority of NFL scouts, coaches, agents will all gather for the biggest league convention of the year this week at the combine in Indianapolis.
While the focus is typically on the players entering the draft, teams and agents often conduct important business behind the scenes that could shape rosters for the upcoming season.
Many teams will make coaches and general managers available to the media beginning on Wednesday while player availability begins on Thursday and continue through Sunday.

The New Orleans Saints will send a large contingent to the event as they do every year, and here will be some of their top priorities during the week ahead:

1. Scouting the draft
This one seems like a no-brainer, but with the Saints having just one pick in the first four rounds, itís important to provide some context to what their scouts will be doing.
Teams each year interview countless players they wonít draft to acquire information about them, either to help scout against them or to know if they might be interested in acquiring those players later in their career. Like any other year, the Saints will use this combine to seek out as much information as possible about all available prospects.
Donít be surprised if thereís a report about the Saints interviewing Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray or Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver, and donít overreact to think that a conversation will mean the Saints are going to ship off assets to move up in the draft to pick one of the top prospects.
Every team talks to just about every combine prospect in some capacity, and that should be the same for the Saints even though their first pick isnít until No. 62 in the second round. Sure, thereís a chance the Saints will talk to a first-round talent and decide to make a big move up in the draft to pick him. But, the fact-finding missions at the combine also help in the event a top-tier player slides in the draft, whether due to injury or an off-field issue, so the Saints will be just as active with prospects as usual.
Heading into the draft, it seems tight end and defensive tackle are the top needs, but teams typically seek talent over need. And with the Saintsí second-round pick being their only in the first four rounds, the team likely wonít expect much impact from the rookie class in 2019, which means free agency will be the way to fill holes.

2. Meeting with representatives for pending free agents
Just about every agent visits the combine, and they typically spend time during the week meeting with teams to discuss their plans for clients due to hit free agency.
There have been times where teams agree to new deals at the combine, but with free agency still a couple weeks away, the meetings between teams and agents are typically informal discussions about interest to determine how serious the conversations should be after the combine.
For the Saints, the most important pending free agents running back Mark Ingram, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, kicker Wil Lutz (restricted) and defensive end Alex Okafor, but the team surely wants to pursue some other guys like special teams leaders Chris Banjo and Craig Robertson. The combine is the perfect opportunity to begin or continue conversations about new contracts and often help teams strike deals before the players hit the open market.

3. Planning ahead with young core
Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and recently signed with a new agent, Andrew Kessler of Athletes First.
Signing Thomas to a new deal is not the top priority for the Saints at this juncture as they have to focus first on the players who are becoming free agents, but the combine would be an ideal opportunity to begin discussions on a new deal.
Thomas has had an incredible start to his career, and his next contract will likely pay him in the neighborhood of $18 million per year, which is the top-of-market deal Odell Beckham Jr. signed last year. A deal of that magnitude takes time to negotiate, so it would make sense for Saints GM Mickey Loomis to meet with Kessler to begin those discussions.
Meanwhile, the Saints also have to consider the future when they plan for free agency as Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Sheldon Rankins, Vonn Bell and others will need new contracts within the next couple years.

4. Keeping ears to the ground
NFL teams are not allowed to discuss contract terms with pending free agents until the leagueís negotiation window opens on March 11, two days before free agency begins, but information often leaks out about plans during combine week.
Itís odd to think about how much gossip plays a role in roster building in a multi-billion-dollar sports league, but thatís exactly what happens at the combine. Someone might hear that a team is planning on cutting, trading or letting a player leave, and suddenly, another teamís plans for free agency completely change.
Remember, when the Saints traded Brandin Cooks to the Patriots two years ago, most of those discussions happened at the combine, so Loomis, Sean Payton and the rest of the staff have to keep their eyes and ears peeled for opportunities to acquire players to help the team in 2019.

5. Sean Paytonís competition committee contributions
The competition committee will meet multiple times this week to discuss potential rule proposals ahead of the annual league meetings at the end of March, and as multiple reports said Monday, the replay review process will be among the topics.
Payton joined the committee last year, and heíll surely vouch for some kind of change to the rule after the no-call in the NFC Championship that might have cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.
However, Paytonís voice wonít be enough to make a change, so heíll have to gauge the rest of the committeeís feelings on the matter. Then, at the annual meetings, the Saints could submit a rule proposal with wording that might fit what the committee hopes to do to address the issue.


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Old 02-26-2019, 07:16 AM   #2
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Re: 5 priorities for the Saints at 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

Not holding my breath on No. 5...
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Old 02-26-2019, 07:20 AM   #3
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Re: 5 priorities for the Saints at 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

#4 ....
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Old 02-26-2019, 01:48 PM   #4
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Re: 5 priorities for the Saints at 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

Pleas let me know when to stop holding my breath......I'm already having oxygen deprivation.
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