Grant likes new New Orleans home

Grant motivated by comments from ESPN draft experts

Before Charles Grant had time to adjust to the news that he had been drafted by the New Orleans Saints Sunday, he saw ESPN's experts begin attacking the pick.

Mel Kiper Jr. called Grant, the defensive end from Georgia, one of the biggest risks in the NFL draft.

Then came comments from another analyst, Mike Golic, during the network's coverage of the NFL draft.

Said Golic of Grant: "I'm not really impressed with the guy right now.''

Added Golic: "It's a need (for the Saints) because they lost Joe Johnson, but I'm not real high on (Grant) stepping in and making an immediate impact.''

So within minutes of hearing he was the 25th pick of the first round, Grant was given new incentive to prove that he can provide production expected of a first-round pick.

"That's just motivation to me,'' Grant said while celebrating with family and friends at his home in Colquitt, Ga.

"I'm a self-motivated guy. Now I want to go in there and prove them wrong.''

Grant noted that Warren Sapp, now a perennial Pro Bowl player for Tampa Bay, also had his doubters on his draft day.

"Warren Sapp is one of the best defensive linemen in the league and a lot of teams passed on him,'' Grant said. "I just thank the Lord for the chance.''

Grant had been projected to be selected as high as No. 13, the Saints' first of two picks in the first round. Instead, the Saints chose Tennessee receiver Donte Stallworth at No. 13 and then turned to Grant 12 picks later.

"He's going to be a good player,'' said Saints general manager Randy Mueller. "Very few defensive ends come out of college ball that can play the run and the pass. This guy can play both.''

At 6-foot-3 and 282 pounds, Grant led Georgia with six quarterback sacks and 28 quarterback pressures last season. He boosted his draft status by recording four sacks and 13 tackles against Auburn last season.

In the last few weeks, Grant was one of the fastest climbers on mock draft lists. That prompted some to question if he merited first-round status. Grant said he didn't know what to believe. He had been listed in the top half of the first round by some experts, but he said he saw another mock draft that listed him 43rd overall, in the middle of the second round.

"It was very tough to watch the draft; it was nerve-wracking,'' Grant said. "I had to pace around a little bit.''

All the while, a visit to the Saints' headquarters two weeks ago had left Grant with the belief New Orleans would be his new home. So he remained optimistic, knowing the Saints had two first-round picks.

"I talked to the head coach (Jim Haslett) and the general manager and they like me a lot,'' Grant said. "The Saints are going to get a player. I'm just going to be myself.''

Charles can be reached here:

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