With the scouting combine set to begin Tuesday, the Saints likely already have an extensive shopping list of players they’d like to get a closer look at this week. The Advocate’s Nick Underhill takes a look at a handful of guys who could be on their list:
OL Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 320 pounds
The skinny: Lauded for his ability in run blocking, Scherff could be a building block for an interior offensive line that soon needs to start considering a succession plan for Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs.
OL Cameron Erving, Florida State
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 308 pounds
The skinny: Erving has experience playing defensive tackle, offensive tackle and center. Erving has shown plus-blocking ability, but scouting reports question his consistency and technique. He could be a good draft-and-develop candidate.
OL Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 323 pounds
The skinny: Scouting reports paint Tomlinson as a force at the point of attack but say he struggles to get to the second level and that he can be slow to react. In New Orleans’ zone-blocking scheme, these could be issues, because offensive lineman are often required to get down the field.
OL La’el Collins, LSU
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 308 pounds
The skinny: Collins is entering the draft as an offensive tackle and told The Advocate at the Senior Bowl his goal is to be a left tackle in the NFL. He also said he would be fine playing guard, which is where he would likely fit in at first if drafted by the Saints.
OL T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 307 pounds
The skinny: Clemmings is another player who projects to play tackle at the next level but would likely receive his initial snaps on the inside with the Saints. There are questions about his consistency that could need to be cleaned up before he’s inserted on an NFL offensive line.
DT Arik Armstead, Oregon
Height/weight: 6-foot-8, 290 pounds
The skinny: Armstead is a physical freak. When he’s involved in the pass rush, it can be intoxicating to watch. The issue, however, is that he disappears for stretches. If he can harness his talents and become a more consistent presence, he should have a productive career in the NFL.
DT Danny Shelton, Washington
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 343 pounds
The skinny: A scouting report on NFLDraftScout.com starts like this: “Built like a Coke machine and just as tough to move.” Shelton has great ability to push the pocket and could provide an element the Saints defense too often lacked last season.
Edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 277 pounds
The skinny: Fowler can play just about anywhere he’s deployed and can even contribute in pass coverage. He’s a talented pass rusher who could immediately come in and contribute to the Saints defense. Many are projecting New Orleans to select him with the 13th pick.
Edge rusher Vic Beasley, Clemson
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 220 pounds
The skinny: The first thing that stands out about Beasley is his slender frame. He’s going to need to add bulk to be successful in the NFL. However, he’s a high-energy player who knows how to get into the backfield.
LB Denzel Perryman, Miami
Height/weight: 6-foot, 240 pounds
The skinny: His height might be generous. Perryman is definitely not the tallest guy in this class, but he is built like a linebacker and knows how to play. He’s solid against the run, can get after the passer and has solid coverage skills. The Saints need more of that.
LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 245 pounds
The skinny: He’s a solid athlete who can get all over the field. He seems to be everywhere on the field but is raw and sometimes appears to rely on his athleticism to cover a lack of technique. His range in coverage has also come under question.
CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 182 pounds
The skinny: He has the height and length the Saints covet in cornerbacks, and his coverage skills are also on point. Waynes appears to have good instincts and often handled his man in single coverage last season. If New Orleans looks to draft a cornerback, Waynes could be a target.
CB Marcus Peters, Washington
Height/weight: 6-foot, 190 pounds
The skinny: Peters appears comfortable playing in any scheme and often covered the opposition’s best receiver. He also appears to have good instincts and is quick to react. Sometimes his aggressive nature leads to mistakes.