If Drew Brees is the franchise, then protecting him is paramount.
With everyone looking for help on defense, the Saints threw a bit of a curveball by selecting Stanford offensive lineman Andrus Peat with the 13th overall pick in the draft.
Peat, however, was not surprised by the pick.
“I was just really excited when I found out they picked me,” Peat said. “That’s a great team and a great organization.”
The pick was made with one of the top pass rushers, Kentucky’s Bud Dupree, and wide receivers, Louisville’s DeVante Parker, still on the board. Those spots — edge rusher and receiver — were almost universally whom the experts thought the Saints would grab with their first two picks, and those were two of the top choices for that value.
It’s the first time the Saints have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since picking Oklahoma’s Jammal Brown in 2005. Peat was the third offensive lineman taken in the draft behind Brandon Scherff (fifth to Washington) and Ereck Flowers (ninth to the Giants).
New Orleans has a need on the offensive line after trading guard Ben Grubbs to the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this offseason.
Peat (6-foot-7) played left tackle in college. It’s unclear if he could play guard in front of Drew Brees. It’s possible Terron Armstead or Zach Strief could be asked to move inside.
Peat was one of the better pass blockers in college football last season, allowing only two sacks and seven pressures over 423 pass-blocking snaps. He did not allow a quarterback hit.
The Saints have been making efforts to improve their offensive line this offseason. The team opened up a flurry of offseason moves by dealing tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks as part of a package that brought back Max Unger.
Pass protection was a bit of an issue for the Saints last season. Though Brees was only sacked 28 times, he was pressured on 32.9 percent of his snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. That figure had not exceeded 30 percent in any of the previous seven seasons.
Peat took an official visit with the Saints during the pre-draft process. He said the team had not discussed a potential fit on the offensive line. He also said he has never played guard and would be most comfortable at either tackle position, but would be OK playing inside.
Coming from Stanford, Peat, a psychology major, said the offensive systems are similar and that he feels it will be an easy transition.
“I saw a little bit of that,” Peat said. “We ran a Pro Style and West Coast terminology, so I think it will be a good transition for me.”
He should also fit in with the blocking scheme. At Stanford, Peat gained experience operating out of an inside-zone and outside-zone blocking schemes, similar to the ones used by New Orleans in the running game.
Peat’s father, Todd, has also been an influence in his career. He played in the NFL from 1987-1993, spending time with the Cardinals and Raiders. He then finished up his career playing for the Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League of American Football.
His father, of course, has been a huge influence in Peat’s career.
“I’ve always had high expectations with my dad playing,” Peat said. “I’ve tried to learn as much I could from him and listen to him.”
Peat sounded confident during a call with the media right after he was selected, but he allowed himself to gush a little as it set in that the next man he’ll be blocking for is Brees.
“That’s such a huge honor to play for the Saints and block for Drew Brees,” he said. “I grew up watching Brees and the Saints. I’m excited to come in and work and improve as a football player.”