The Saints are taking a look at one of the draft’s fastest climbers.
LSU cornerback Jalen Collins spent some time with New Orleans defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff during Friday’s pro day and left with the impression the team has a good amount of interest in him.
“They said they’re highly interested,” said Collins, who many believed has worked his way into the first round. “Talked to (McGriff). He said he likes big corners, and he likes what he saw from the (NFL) combine.”
Collins did not take part in any drills Friday. It was discovered at the combine that he had the start of a Jones fracture and last week had a screw inserted into his right foot. He does not believe the injury will hurt his draft stock and expects to be sidelined for only a few weeks.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said the injury shouldn’t hurt the upward climb Collins has made on the draft boards since he decided to enter the draft.
Even though Collins ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine with the injury, he missed the opportunity Friday to further impress the Saints. They hold the 13th and 31st selections in the first round.
If the Saints were to pick Collins, he would be behind Keenan Lewis and Brandon Browner on the depth chart and would have to win a job as the third cornerback, serving in nickel packages. He said he covered the slot often in practice and believes he could do the job at the next level.
But he did admit there are some differences from playing on the outside.
“The major difference on the outside to the inside is, you don’t really get to use your hands as much,” Collins said. “Slot receivers are usually off the ball. You kind of got to be more aware of the intermediate routes, because they got more space.”
Collins said he has upcoming visits scheduled with the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Seeking a comeback
Twenty-two former LSU players participated in pro day — which included 19 members of last year’s team and three players from the 2013 squad.
One of the players from the 2013 team was linebacker Tahj Jones, whose dream of getting a chance to play at the next level was shattered last spring in Lake Charles.
Former LSU offensive lineman Brandon Winey was arrested in connection to the shooting but in January a grand jury declined to indict him on an attempted second-degree murder charge.
“It was real good to see all these scouts,” said Jones, who ran a respectable time of 4.57 seconds in the 40. “It’s a dream-come-true, because I wanted to show them what I can do. I can play special teams, linebacker, safety … whatever they need me to do.
“Last year was a dream for me, but this is bigger. I had to show them I’m 100 percent back. That (incident) won’t stop me from doing what I want to do.”
Divide and conquer
Much of the Saints’ football operations staff, a group led by General Manager Mickey Loomis and new assistant general manager Jeff Ireland, made the trek from the team’s Metairie headquarters to LSU.
Saints coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt were noticeably absent. Loomis said they traveled to Fort Worth to take in TCU’s pro day.
However, all three coordinators — Pete Carmichael, Rob Ryan and Greg McMahon — were at LSU as was senior defensive assistant Dennis Allen.
LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said his office distributed 100 credentials to various NFL personnel — ranging from general managers to coaches to scouts.
He said they also distributed about 100 credentials to media — including personnel from the NFL Network and SEC Network, which went live for a two-hour window.
As usual, LSU coach Les Miles had a nice time walking around and visiting with current and former players as well the general managers, coaches and scouts who stopped by to check out his program.
“This is a great day for these players who have worked so hard to get to this point in their career where they are now in a position to take their game to the NFL,” Miles said. “To look around and see close to 100 NFL personnel here … is a testament to our program and players that LSU football produces.”
Ackley, Wells return
Former Southern players Brett Ackley and Lunda Wells were among those representing NFL teams Friday.
Ackley, who was Southern’s kicker from 2003 to 2006, is in his third season as an area scout for the Chicago Bears. The Lake Charles native covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.
Wells, a Baker native and offensive linemen for SU from 2002 to 2005, is in his third season as an assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants.