Saints Pro Day Rumblings: March 24

The New Orleans Saints are jetting cross-country to evaluate talent for the NFL Draft. Each Monday Saintsinsider.com will file its "Pro Day rumblings," a collection of Saints-related news regarding pro days. Today's article includes information on Tennessee State CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Michigan State OL Pete Clifford and Maryland TE Joey Haynos.

The New Orleans Saints definitely need help in the secondary from the upcoming NFL Draft. Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may be slipping into the conversation for the Saints' first-round selection at No. 10 overall.

Rodgers-Cromartie ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine last month, a time so good that scouts told him at his pro day last week he didn't have to run again, even though he offered.

He performed all the other drills and, by all accounts, looked like a first-round pick.

There is already plenty of chatter about where Rodgers-Cromartie will be selected. He's already been linked to the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. Even the Baltimore Ravens have been mentioned.

So why not the Saints? Well, all of those teams select before the Saints, which means Rodgers-Cromartie, his 11 career interceptions and 37 foot, 6 inch vertical leap may not fall far enough to reach the Saints.

But what if he does? And Leodis McKelvin and Mike Jenkins, the draft's other top corners are still there?

The Saints face a potentially huge decision on which corner should be their corner of the future. At 6-foot-2, 184 pounds, Rodgers-Cromartie has been described as the "picture-perfect corner," if the football gods were to draw one up. But most scouts agree he needs to add 10 pounds.

That's nothing a few extra bowls of gumbo wouldn't take care of. Expect the Saints to have this guy into their practice facility in April for a meeting or workout.

CLIFFORD THE BIG SPARTAN LINEMAN: If Michigan State offensive lineman Pete Clifford ends up in New Orleans, give an assist to Zach Strief.

Check out this nugget from the Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass., about Clifford's offseason workouts:

"At Michigan State last fall, he took graduate courses. For five weeks this winter at Sports and Field Athletic Club in Tampa, he furthered his gridiron education under the tutelage of former 14-year NFL offensive lineman John Jackson and current New Orleans Saints lineman Zach Strief.

"I lost 10-12 pounds, got quicker and worked on my technique," said the 6-7, 312-pound Clifford, who'll turn 24 on April 3.

Clifford is considered a long shot to be drafted, though, as his pro day performance was reportedly uneven. But it's not a stretch to see Strief talk Clifford up to head coach Sean Payton when it comes time to sign undrafted free agents.

MORE RECOMMENDATIONS?: Former Saints strength and conditioning coach Tom Shaw might get a phone call from the Saints about one of his current pupils, Maryland tight end Joey Haynos.

Haynos worked out at Shaw's facility in Orlando for pre-draft preparations and impressed the scouts at the Combine with his overall numbers — placing sixth or higher among tight ends in the broad jump (10 feet, 3 inches), the vertical jump (30.5 inches) and the three-cone drill (6.92 seconds).

Haynos improved on that at his pro day last week. He recorded a broad jump of 10 feet, 8 inches and a vertical jump of 31.5 inches. He also lowered his 40-yard dash time to 4.8 seconds.

Haynos is now pegged as a mid-round pick. The Saints re-signed Billy Miller and Eric Johnson this offseason, but they're sure to look for a young tight end they can work into the offense. Haynos would be a low-risk investment, as he's also considered a solid blocker to go along with his 6-foot-7 frame and above-average pass skills.

If he's drafted, he would be the second-tallest tight end in the NFL (Arizona's Leonard Pope is 6-foot-8).

NOTABLE: Central Florida RB Kevin Smith ran a 4.47 and 4.49 at his Pro Day last week, and reports say he caught the ball well for scouts. Most mock drafts have him going in the second round now. Watch what happens with Deuce McAllister's contract situation next month. If the Saints release him, they could look for a running back early to pair with Reggie Bush, and Smith would be a solid choice. … Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett (5-11 ¾, 206 pounds) had a great day catching the football at his Pro Day, taking 22 passes from former Commodore QB Jay Cutler and not dropping a single one. … Florida offensive lineman Carlton Medder is a name to file away for after the draft. At 6-foot-5, 319 points, he has elite size. But scouts worry about his quickness and he's working with Shaw in Orlando to improve that aspect of his game.


Matthew Postins covers the Saints for Saintsinsider.com. He is an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association.


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