Saints Draft Need: Center

In the fourth of a series of articles profiling the New Orleans Saints' 2008 NFL Draft needs, Matthew Postins examines what the Saints have at a key position, who they could draft and what kind of impact that player could have. Also, look for links to stories, video and audio of players the Saints could draft throughout the article.

One of the draft's top cornerbacks was in New Orleans on Monday to visit the Saints. Who is he and what did he have to say about his upcoming visits? Scout.com's Ed Thompson caught up with him. Find out more by clicking here.


CENTER

WHAT THE SAINTS HAVE

Jonathan Goodwin (starter), Matt Lehr.

WHY THE NEED?

The departure of Jeff Faine to Tampa Bay leaves a gaping hole up the middle of the offensive line for the Saints. Head coach Sean Payton said earlier this offseason that Goodwin (6-foot-3, 318 pounds) will get first crack at winning the job. But the Saints went out and signed Matt Lehr — who was with the Bucs last year — as insurance. Goodwin has never been a full-time starter at center. Lehr was a full-time starter at center early in his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

The good news for New Orleans is if they're targeting a center in this draft, there are some solid prospects that won't cost them more than a third-round pick. However, Scout.com's Tom Marino cautions that there are no "franchise picks" in this draft at the position and that most have third- or fourth-round grades.

Given the Saints' lean toward the pass game and the speed game in the backfield, a more mobile center may be in order.

THE TOP FIVE

Here are the top five running backs in this draft, according to Scout.com:

Kory Lichtensteiger (6-foot-2, 305 pounds), Bowling Green — Marino didn't like his short arms, but said that after watching one quarter of his game film he had no worries about the prospect's transition to the NFL. He's the best blocker among the centers.

Mike Pollak (6-foot-4, 293 pounds), Arizona State — Given the Saints' predisposition to throwing the football, Pollak — whom Marino considers the draft's best pass-blocking center — might just fit the bill.

Steve Justice (6-foot-3, 288 pounds), Wake Forest — Marino considers him the most athletic center in the draft. He's plenty tough, but he apparently lacks the core strength that most scouts like to see.

Cody Wallace (6-foot-4, 302 pounds), Texas A&M — Marino considers him underrated and believes that if a team with a zone-blocking scheme drafts him, he could be a pro for a long time. But he struggles with players on his nose and with bull rushes.

John Sullivan (6-foot4, 303 pounds), Notre Dame — Intelligent and experienced, Marino worried that Sullivan wasn't consistent enough his senior year. He also has shotgun snap errors last year and could drop into the seventh round.

GET TO KNOW THEM

Want to know more about these prospects, plus other centers the Saints could be interested in? Check out the links below.

Wake Forest center Steve Justice talks about the scouting combine:


The Saints appear to be looking for cornerback help in this draft. Are they targeting a former San Jose State Spartan? Find out in this exclusive scoop.


The Saints have the No. 10 overall pick and will host one of the draft's top linebackers at their practice facility soon. Find out who in this article.


Did you miss Matthew Postins' first Saints-only Mock Draft? Click here to see if you agree with his Saints draft strategy.


Saintsinsider.com is kicking off its "Saints Scouting Report" series today with Indiana CB Tracy Porter. Find out more about Porter, why the Saints could be interested in him and what our Scout.com personnel guru Tom Marino and others have to say about him. Get the scoop right here.


Saints head coach Sean Payton talked about his two top backs, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, last week. What did he have to say about their statuses? Find out the full story by clicking here.


It's the most important time of the year for NFL teams that want to improve their roster for 2008. Are you getting all the analysis you need as the NFL Draft approaches? If you're not, click here to find out how you can become a Saintsinsider.com insider and become the expert at your NFL Draft party.


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


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