The New Orleans Saints finished off their draft class on Saturday by taking California running back Daniel Lasco with their fifth and final pick, a seventh-round selection.
Lasco faces a crowded Saints backfield that already includes Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller, Tim Hightower, Marcus Murphy and Travaris Cadet, leaving Lasco looking at a steep, uphill battle to get carries.
But the Saints didn’t draft Lasco to be a primary ballcarrier, at least not at first.
“I know I’m a special teams guy,” Lasco said. “I’m going to start making my living on special teams and help the organization out the best I can doing that. With that, I’m going to fit behind some of the great running backs that are there and be able to pick their brains and learn what it takes to be a great NFL running back.”
Lasco, a 6-foot, 209-pounder, never returned kicks or punts for the Golden Bears, but he was a weapon on California’s coverage units.
As a ballcarrier, Lasco tore up the Pac-12 in 2014, racking up 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns, plus catching 33 passes for 356 yards to generate buzz that he could be a middle-round prospect in this draft class.
But he tore the pectineus muscle in his hip two games into his senior season and injured an ankle after he came back, limiting his impact. Lasco got healthy enough to lead all running backs in the vertical leap and broad jump at the NFL scouting combine, but he had to wait through six and a half rounds before the Saints pulled him off the board.
Lasco handled the stress well.
“I know my agents, they kept promising me different things, and I kept telling them not to tell me anything, because I didn’t want to be disappointed,” Lasco said. “Unfortunately, I dropped low, but I’m so happy I got picked up by a great team.”