Saints set to host top CB today at facility

The New Orleans Saints may be looking for cornerback help in this draft to support their veterans, such as Jason David. Scout.com's Ed Thompson has learned that one of the draft's top cornerbacks will visit the Saints on Monday as part of a two-week whirlwind tour. Find out who and what other teams are interested right here.

Troy University cornerback Leodis McKelvin has his bags packed to begin a nine-team NFL tour over the next two weeks that will include the Saints, Buccaneers, Redskins, Falcons, Ravens, Jets, Patriots, Cowboys and Titans.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound athletic corner, who also excels as a return specialist, has already completed three personal workouts and an official visit.

The New York Jets' defensive backs coach was the first to hold a personal workout with McKelvin back in March.

"He just wanted to see my footwork and my hips, my punch off my press and my athleticism," the elite cornerback told Scout.com during an exclusive interview.

After that, McKelvin took his first official visit to Buffalo at the end of March.

"It was a good experience. It was pretty much meeting the coaches and touring the facility and showing me Buffalo, in general," he said. "I talked to the defensive coordinator, the defensive backs coach, the head coach, the special teams coach.

"They told me I'm a great athlete and I'd be able to help their team. The defense they run is pretty much the same that we ran here at Troy."

Since McKelvin was a Dallas Cowboys fan while he was growing up, he was very familiar with the Bills since they clashed in championship games with his favorite team.

"I was excited about seeing the team that I watched in those championship games, their stadium and their facilities," he said.

McKelvin was also impressed by Bills head coach Dick Jauron.

"He's a good coach. I heard how he was a stud safety back in his day, and with him being a defensive-minded person, that'll make me work very hard for him," McKelvin said.

After completing his visit, he got ready for his workouts with the Saints and the Patriots during the first week of April. New England has a reputation for trying to wear out prospects during their personal workouts, but McKelvin wasn't concerned.

"They're looking for a corner, and I feel I'm the number one corner in the draft, so I'm ready to go through anything for them," he said a few days before the workout.

McKelvin's not only a first-round lock, he's got a legitimate shot at being the first cornerback taken in this year's draft. He would be just the second player in Troy's history to be a first-round NFL Draft selection. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware was the first, selected No. 11 overall by the Cowboys in 2005.

For a few different reasons, the confident cornerback fully believes that he should be selected before any other cornerback in this draft.

"My athletic ability, my footwork, and my ability to shut down a side, not just be a cover corner, but also come up there and make tackles," he explained. "And you not only get a shutdown corner, another value I bring is to be a dynamic returns guy.

"So if you can get somebody that could likely be number one in both categories, who would you choose? So hopefully, I'll be the first corner taken."


Leodis McKelvin knocks a pass away from Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant.
AP Photo/Dave Martin

The value that McKelvin can immediately bring to a team's special teams unit is his 13.1-yard average on punt returns and his 23.7 yards per return on kickoffs during his college career. 

"I just love having the ball in my hands. I played running back in my younger days, and that helps with my vision and my ability to see the field," he said. "I just try to get our offense the best field position I can so they have a short field to work with and so we can get more points on the board."

On Monday, April 7, McKelvin flies to New Orleans to start his string of nine team visits, with one personal workout sandwiched in between. After completing his visit with the Saints on the 8th, he heads to Tampa Bay that evening and spends Wednesday with the Buccaneers. That night, it's on to Washington to meet with the Redskins and to visit their facilities on Thursday, the 10th. Then he'll meet with Falcons officials that night before his tour of their facilities on Friday.  McKelvin will then wrap up his week with a workout for the Falcons on Saturday, the 12th.

The talented cornerback won't get much of a breather before starting the second leg of his marathon of visits.

According to McKelvin, he has to head to Baltimore on April 13 to meet with the Ravens on the Monday the 14th. Later that day, he'll make a short flight to visit the Patriots and visit their facilities on the 15th. Then he'll take another quick flight to New England's nearby division rivals, the Jets, before his visit with them on the 16th. By late Wednesday, he'll be on his way to Dallas for a Thursday visit with the Cowboys. From there, he'll fly up to Tennessee late in the day to wrap things up with the Titans on Friday the 18th.

On top of his busy visits and workouts schedule, McKelvin is still carrying a 14-hour credit workload at school so that he can graduate this summer. And while it's difficult to keep it all balanced, he knows that it will all pay off within the next few months.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time right now until that time comes when I sign a contract. Hopefully, it will change my life tremendously," he said. "I owe everything to my mom, she'd always do anything for me.

"Sometimes it was hard for us to have me play football when I was younger. I used to cry to her and tell her I wanted to play, and sometimes she didn't have the money. So she'd go and sell her TV or a VCR just so she could help me play football. So I owe everything to her, and I'm going to give back to her."

McKelvin's next two weeks will be key to determining which team will use their first-round pick on him. And that will ultimately help decide how big of a pay day he'll reap in return for the hard work he's put into his football career to date.

But make no doubt about it, no matter where he lands, Leodis McKelvin will have an impact on the fate of his new team during the 2008 season.

Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email through this link.


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