The Saints weren’t themselves with Sean Payton serving a season-long suspension in, but the defense was particularly terrible. Naturally, everyone expects Payton and Co. to select a defensive player with the No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft, but Payton says that there are times when the best player on the board is just too hard to ignore. Sean Payton joined Bobby and Deke on WWL in New Orleans to discuss his philosophy regarding need vs. best player available in the draft, his approach to getting the team back up to speed after serving a season-long suspension, the presence of Seneca Wallace on the quarterback depth chart and the competition for the open left-tackle spot after Jermon Bushrod’s departure.
On defense being a focus but the constant need to consider the best player available in the draft:
“Certainly we’re looking closely at our defense, and that would be a priority. I would say this: When you start getting into that selection and you see magnets both offensively and defensively that are close to each other on the grade line, it’s easy then — if you feel real close about the players — to go with one side of the ball or the other. The challenge is when you see the magnet that sits up there much higher than the defensive player, for instance, and then are you just strictly trying to draft a need player as opposed to maybe the best available player. And I think the key is just, what’s the gap? And so when a player falls or you feel like you have a real high grade on a player, you have to pay attention to that.”
On getting back to work with his team after a year away:
“You’ve gotta be honest and candid. We talked briefly at the start of the [first] meeting about this past year. And we talked about all the distractions that took place during that year and then what we saw as a football team, offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. We talked about the progress we’re going to have to make to get back to [being a Super Bowl contender]. And I think the key is, every team is gonna operate within the framework of the new CBA and that’s easily understood and easy to do, yet the key to being successful and winning is all the details and creating that competition that’s necessary. I think when you have that competition, everyone in that position group plays better, and it’s important for us to create that in all the drills that we have.”
On Seneca Wallace not just being brought in to help the Saints prepare for mobile quarterbacks and Pistol-type offenses:
“We signed him to come in and compete to be our backup quarterback, so I don’t think his signing was a reflection of us really looking for the perfect scout-team quarterback to resemble a few of the teams that we’ll see during the year. I think finding that is something that we’ve been able to do. Oftentimes there might be a guy on your roster that played quarterback who’s now a receiver or defensive back. We’ve got a couple veteran quarterbacks in here in Luke [McCown] and Seneca that we think have an opportunity to come in and do a real good job of being prepared to play if they have to. Both of them have had starts in their careers. We’ll see where they’re at.”
On if he feels they have their next starting left tackle on the current roster:
“We’ll see. We signed Jason Smith recently, and Charles Brown’s a guy that is going to be competing over there. It’s gonna be an opportunity. There’s a great example of a job that’s wide open, and hopefully the guys that have a chance to compete for that position step up and someone separates himself. That kind of happened when Bushrod came into that position during our scrimmages against the Texans when we lost our starter. … Hopefully it’s an easy decision. Hopefully someone separates themselves.