Sundays at MetLife Stadium this fall won’t be the first time the Newman connection will be on display.
Last July, a late call went out for wide receivers to assist in the Air It Out finale of the Manning Passing Academy, and Newman coach Nelson Stewart found ex-Greenie Odell Beckham Jr., who with LSU teammate Jarvis Landry made the drive to Thibodaux.
There, Beckham got his first taste of running routes for Eli Manning, now his quarterback after the New York Giants made Beckham their first-round draft pick Thursday night.
“It was so much fun watching Cooper (Manning) calling out ‘Newman to Newman,’ ” Stewart said Friday. “These are two guys who are dedicated to offseason workouts, and I’m sure Odell is going to form a bond with Eli just like he did with Zach Mettenberger. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would work out like this. It’s fantastic.”
It wasn’t Beckham’s first time at the Manning camp. In junior high, before he became a wide receiver, Beckham was a quarterback who attended as a camper where he ran routes for Peyton Manning, something he still calls the toughest workout he ever had.
But Stewart said it didn’t take long to discover Beckham’s talents could be better used elsewhere.
“He was just so fast, running all over the place,” Stewart said. “I think he’s going to be a dominant pro player because he’s just electric with ball in his hands. But he’s also meticulous about running his routes and just working hard to perfect all parts of his craft. He’s not lacking in any area.”
Beckham is not the first receiver from Newman drafted by the Giants: Omar Douglas played for the team from 1994-96.
But Beckham does give Newman three active first-round picks.
“I told our kids yesterday to go home and appreciate the moment,” Stewart said. “We’re this private school with just 300 students. It says so much about the work ethic of these guys. I couldn’t be prouder.”
‘Top 100’ coming up
Wendell Pierce isn’t saying he would have refused to narrate NFL Network’s series highlighting the league’s top 100 players this year if the actor’s hometown Saints had been as poorly represented as they were in 2013. But that problem didn’t develop.
“I’m sworn to secrecy,” Pierce said of the player-voted list, which will be unveiled weekly in groups of 10 starting Saturday following the draft. “But let’s just say Saints fans will a lot happier than they were last year.”
Drew Brees (No. 11) was the only Saints player in the top 100 in 2013, when the team was coming off a 7-9 season.
This time, the Saints should benefit from last’s 11-5 mark that included the defense rising from last in the league to fourth.
Pierce said he’s about half-way though doing the voice-overs, which he’s able to knock out in about an hour each week.
“The producer and I challenge each other a lot, and I’m always fussing about why there aren’t more Saints,” Pierce said. “But it’s fascinating to do because this list isn’t voted on by the coaches or GMs or media or fans. It’s the guys who actually play the game, and they can be brutally honest.”
Dealing with the devil
Teams usually don’t make deals within their division, but Washington was willing to give Dallas its second-round pick (No. 34) for the Cowboys’ spot in the round (No. 47) and their third-round pick (No. 78).
Dallas, looking for defensive line help, picked Demarcus Lawrence of Boise State. Lawrence could fill the void left by DeMarcus Ware’s departure to Denver.
The Redskins went for outside linebacker Trent Murphy of Stanford in the second round and guard Spencer Long of Nebraska in the third.
The SEC has 23 top-10 picks since 2009. The Big 12 is second with 16.