Is New Orleans's draft strategy showing?

The New Orleans Saints can host player meetings through Friday at their team facility. Scout.com's Adam Caplan obtained the Saints' visit and private workout list and shared it with Saintsinsider.com. These may not be the players the Saints draft, but Caplan said their positions shed light on what the Saints will target on draft day.

The New Orleans Saints have spent most of their offseason going outside the organization to upgrade their failing defense from a year ago.

If their visit and private workout list is any indication, they're not done yet.

Scout.com's Adam Caplan has compiled a visit and private workout list for every NFL team and of the 18 players he's confirmed have met with the Saints, 13 of them are on defense.

Given the defense's overall ranking last year, that's not surprising, said Caplan.

"There's no doubt they are looking at defense if you look at their list or visits and workouts," Caplan said. "And it's no wonder based on how shaky their defense was last season (ranked No. 26th overall). And look at the positions — linebacker and cornerback. Linebacker isn't the need that cornerback is, but they could use developmental talent there that will be ready to play in 2009 and beyond."

Judging by who is on the Saints' list so far, they appear to be targeting those two defensive positions early in the draft.

The Saints have already hosted UNLV's Beau Bell, Tennessee's Jerod Mayo, USC's Keith Rivers and Auburn's Quentin Groves. All four of these players are considered first- or second-round picks in the upcoming draft, so there's a chance the Saints could walk away with one of them that first day, when only two rounds are conducted.

Cornerback appears to be the same situation. Indiana's Tracy Porter, San Diego State's Dwight Lowery, Iowa's Charles Godfrey, Virginia Tech's Brandon Flowers, Kansas' Aqib Talib and Troy's Leodis McKelvin have all met with the Saints. Like the linebackers, these are players that will come off the board in the first two or three rounds of the draft.

It lends support to saintsinsider.com's previous mock draft for the Saints. In the recent mock draft, saintsinsider.com selected Rivers in the first round and Flowers in the second round.

Now does that mean it's a done deal? Certainly not. The Saints could surprise everyone and take a player at a position no one expects. But given their visit and workout list, it appears their focus is on improving their defense.

Also keep an eye on:

The Saints may be keeping an eye on a running back to eventually take the place of Deuce McAllister. The Saints have met with Tulane's Matt Forte and Oregon's Jonathan Stewart. Stewart should be gone in the first round, but Forte could be a tremendous third-round value for any team.

The Saints are believed to be targeting depth at offensive guard, but thus far they've only had one visit, and that was a center, Arizona State's Mike Pollak. Pollak, however, would fit a need for the Saints at a position where they just lost their starter, Jeff Faine, to the Buccaneers. The Saints have worked out Buffalo's Jamey Richard and Rutgers' Jeremy Zuttah. Zuttah is considered a mid-round pick who can play both guard and tackle. The Saints' running game ranked No. 28 last year, so fresh blood up front could be of use.

The Saints have met with three defensive linemen — Auburn's Pat Sims, USC's Sedrick Ellis and Ohio State's Vernon Gholston. Ellis and Gholston are expected to be off the board by the time the Saints select at No. 10. Sims, however, has been linked to the Saints as a potential second-round pick by several mock drafts. Sims is considered a solid selection in that round and is considered to be above-average at shooting gaps and penetrating the backfield.

The Saints, according to Caplan, have not taken a single wide receiver or quarterback meeting. Given what is on their roster, the Saints may be set at both positions.


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


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