Don't be surprised if Auburn tackle Greg Robinson's name surfaces in relation to workouts or visits conducted by the Atlanta Falcons over the next week or so.

The Falcons definitely could target an offensive tackle if they keep the sixth overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. And they've reportedly already worked out top tackle prospects Jake Matthews from Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan from Michigan, so Robinson naturally would be next up in the workout circuit.

The Falcons also continue to bring in top players for visits, and Matthews has a visit scheduled for next week. So it would only make sense for both Robinson and Lewan to make the trek to Atlanta, too, if they haven't already.

ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay believe the Falcons will take Matthews with the sixth pick, although Kiper's opinion could change when his latest mock draft appears this week. At least one mock draft, posted this week by's Bucky Brooks, has Robinson falling to the Falcons at No. 6 with the St. Louis Rams taking Matthews with the second overall pick. There also has been talked this week of Robinson being worthy of consideration as the first overall pick, currently held by the Houston Texans.

However it all unfolds, the Falcons will have options. Protection still seems to be issue that needs to be addressed first over adding another pass-rusher, although Buffalo's Khalil Mack would be hard to pass up if he falls to No. 6.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should be the top pick and likely won't fall to the Falcons. He is expected to visit Atlanta in the next few weeks, but don't count on him being a Falcon.

Matthews, Robinson or Lewan would be the safe bets.
Many of you have asked if the Carolina Panthers have interest in free agent wide receiver Sidney Rice now that he's been medically cleared to begin football drills.

One of you emailed to say Rice, cut by the Seattle Seahawks in February to save $7.3 million under the salary cap, was at an expensive Charlotte hotel on Saturday night.

Here is what I know. According to a source, Rice was not in town for an official visit with the Panthers. As of Tuesday morning, no official visit was scheduled.

That doesn't mean it couldn't happen at some point, although I would consider him signing here a long shot.

On Monday, Rice announced on Twitter that he had been cleared medically five months and one week after having surgery to repair a torn ACL.

According to reports, the Panthers, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Seahawks are interested.

Carolina is a natural landing place because Rice grew up an hour from Charlotte in Gaffney, S.C., and played at the University of South Carolina, 90 minutes from Carolina's Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers also are rebuilding their receiving corps.

But financially, Carolina has the least money to spend among the four teams interested. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Panthers have $2,747,629 left under the salary cap. Seattle has the most room at $15,816,262, followed by the Giants ($4,079,849) and Saints ($3,732,116).

The Panthers already have signed three free agent receivers in Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood who account for $3,675,000 in cap space. They also added tight end Ed Dickson, who will count $635,000 under the 2014 cap.

Rice, despite the injuries, still likely would demand more than any of those, with Cotchery ($1.7 million) counting the most against the cap.

Rice was a Pro Bowl receiver at Minnesota in 2009 when he had a career-best 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. Since then he's been plagued by injuries that have limited him to 32 or fewer receptions in three of the past four seasons.

He has played only one full season since '09, catching 50 passes for 748 yards and seven touchdowns for Seattle in 2012.

But when healthy, he can be a weapon.

The Seahawks still seem the most likely landing spot for the seven-year veteran, because they have a need at receiver after free-agent losses and the most money to spend.

Carolina still seems like a long shot.
The possibility still exists for the Atlanta Falcons to trade up or down in this year's NFL draft, as general manager Thomas Dimitroff has reiterated throughout the offseason.

But if the Falcons keep the sixth overall pick, they should find an impact player. The last time they owned the No. 6 pick was in 2011, when the Falcons selected game-changing receiver Julio Jones. Dimitroff, of course, traded away five draft picks in order to move up for Jones.

Matt Haley of the Falcons' football communications department put out some interesting figures recently. Players selected sixth overall have earned 136 Pro Bowls, 46 first-team All-Pro selections, and 10 Hall of Fame nods. The last to achieve the latter honor was offensive tackle Walter Jones, the sixth overall pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1997 and a 2014 Hall of Fame inductee.

Maybe the Falcons will find their own Hall of Fame tackle in a draft class that includes Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan.

Here's a look at the sixth-overall picks from the last 10 drafts, with a mixture of hits and misses:

The New Orleans Saints have overhauled their secondary more than any other position group over the past two years, adding free agents Jairus Byrd, Keenan Lewis and Champ Bailey and first-round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro.

But don't think for a second that the Saints will ignore those positions in the draft -- especially if they get a crack at a top prospect such as Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert or Louisville safety Calvin Pryor.

Both of those top draft prospects are visiting New Orleans this week. Pryor was in town Monday, according to multiple reports. And Gilbert flew to New Orleans on Monday night, according to his own Twitter feed.

(UPDATE: A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan that four other cornerback prospects were also visiting New Orleans on Tuesday, along with Gilbert: Ohio State’s Bradley Roby, Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir, Oklahoma’s Aaron Colvin and Baylor’s Demetri Goodson.)

Cornerback seems like a bigger need for the Saints right now. A rookie such as Gilbert could battle Bailey and others for a starting job immediately. The Saints are more loaded at safety with Byrd and Vaccaro locked up long-term and Rafael Bush recently re-signing a two-year deal.

But the Saints have always proven in the past that they firmly believe in the best-available-player principle in the draft (aside from a handful of positions they really don't need). They demonstrated that again last year, when safety didn't appear to be one of their most glaring needs before they took Vaccaro.

And if anyone can figure out how to plug in a great athlete somewhere, it's creative defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

The bigger problem with both Gilbert and Pryor is that virtually zero analysts believe there's a chance they could fall to the Saints at No. 27. New Orleans would probably have to trade up to snag one of them.

Gilbert (6-foot, 202 pounds) is especially enticing. He's a sensational athlete who posted the fastest 40-yard dash time of any cornerback at the NFL scouting combine (4.37 seconds) and also served as a standout kickoff returner in college. He returned a total of six kickoffs for touchdowns in college.

Gilbert intercepted seven passes last year for Oklahoma State and returned two of those for touchdowns, as well. However, opinions are a bit mixed on just how high he might go. Some have projected him as a possible top-10 pick, though ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is admittedly lower on him than most, ranking him 24th overall.

McShay cites Gilbert's inconsistent production and focus. He had a breakout year as a sophomore in 2011 with five interceptions, then had zero as a junior before his terrific senior season.

Perhaps his inconsistency makes Gilbert a risky investment as a top-10 pick. But he sure seems like he'd be a home run for the Saints if he slips into their reach.

Pryor, meanwhile, also seems to be a home run prospect. He's certainly a power hitter.

The 5-11, 207-pounder is known as a big hitter and standout run supporter as an in-the-box safety. He's also athletic enough to hold his own in coverage.

Pryor had seven interceptions and nine forced fumbles in his three-year college career, and he ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds. He is battling Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to become the first safety drafted.

Rice still in play: The Saints are still among the teams in play for free-agent receiver Sidney Rice, according to a league source. The Saints showed interest in Rice earlier this offseason. And he is now cleared to resume football activities after recovering from a torn ACL, according to Pro Football Talk. PFT, which said Rice might sign somewhere soon, also listed the Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants and Carolina Panthers among teams interested in Rice.

Rice, 27, was a dynamic receiver early in his career with the Minnesota Vikings, with a Pro Bowl season in 2009 (1,312 yards, eight touchdowns). But he has battled a series of injuries during the past four years with both the Seahawks (2011-2013) and Vikings (2007-2010).

The 6-foot-4, 202-pounder suffered the torn ACL midway through last season and finished with just 15 catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns in eight games played. In 2012, Rice had 50 catches for 748 yards and seven touchdowns in a full season with the Seahawks.

Herron's draft diary: Another player who made a pre-draft visit to New Orleans recently was Wyoming receiver Robert Herron, a projected mid-round pick. Herron shared a few details from the trip, plus his thoughts on how excited he'd be to join the Saints in a draft diary he's writing for USA Today.
Eventually, the Atlanta Falcons will have to addresss their depth at linebacker, considering how injuries affected the position throughout the 2013 season.

The Falcons seem destined to draft a linebacker or two with 10 picks in this year's draft. The question is, how high will they be willing to invest in a linebacker?

Well, Montana's Jordan Tripp seems to be making a steady rise up the draft charts and some believe he won't last beyond the third round.

And the Falcons continue to take a close look at Tripp.'s Gil Brandt first reported Tripp would make a pre-draft visit, and the linebacker prospect was actually was in Atlanta on Monday visiting with the team.

The 6-foot-3, 234-pound Tripp entered the draft process projected as a late-round pick. He is listed as an outside linebacker but would project better as an inside linebacker as the Falcons move toward a 3-4-base defense. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds at the combine. And Tripp called himself the most versatile linebacker in the draft.

Drafting a player from Montana wouldn't be new to the Falcons. They drafted defensive end/linebacker Kroy Biermann in the fifth round out of Montana in 2008 and also drafted former Montana safety Shann Schillinger in the sixth round in 2010. Biermann is set to return from a season-ending Achilles' injury while Schillinger was released by the Falcons and picked up by the Tennessee Titans.
The New Orleans Saints have to decide by May 3 whether they want to extend the contracts of their 2011 first-round draft picks -- defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Mark Ingram -- through the 2015 season.

Jordan’s extension is expected to cost $6.969 million for 2015 and Ingram’s $5.211 million, according to ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton, who wrote about the looming fifth-year extensions around the league.

This is the first year that these fifth-year extensions will kick in after they were added to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement in 2011. And as Clayton pointed out, that 2011 draft class happened to be one of the best in years.

Therefore, several teams are expected to retain their players -- which will put a dent in the talent available in next year’s free agency class around the league.

Extending Jordan is a no-brainer for the Saints. He was a first-time Pro Bowler last year in a breakout season with 12.5 sacks. He is arguably the Saints’ top defensive player as he heads into his fourth NFL season. And he doesn’t turn 25 until July.

Ingram is less likely to be extended at that price – even though the Saints remain high on his future and could consider re-signing him to a more affordable extension.

Ingram, 24, finished strong last season with an impressive performance in the playoffs. And his role in the Saints’ backfield could increase slightly this year now that the Saints have traded away veteran Darren Sproles. However, Ingram will still be in a timeshare with fellow running backs Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson.

Too early to draft Brees’ successor: Also in Clayton’s mailbag, he said it’s still too early for the Saints to draft a successor for quarterback Drew Brees. I completely agree -- as I’ve written several times this offseason. I expect Brees to keep playing at a high level for at least three or four more years.
From the outside looking in, the New Orleans Saints’ offseason has probably seemed a bit hectic.

The Saints have been full of surprises, from the big-name acquisitions of Jairus Byrd and Champ Bailey to the big-name departures of Darren Sproles and others.

[+] EnlargeMickey Loomis
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsMickey Loomis has made several key additions to the Saints' roster despite salary-cap constraints.
Based on reactions from fans and national analysts alike, the biggest head-scratcher of all has been the fact that the Saints keep adding ammo to the roster despite a tight squeeze against the salary cap.

But none of these moves have been made on the fly.

General manager Mickey Loomis insisted last week that just about every move the Saints made was part of a calculated plan.

“It’s not a process where all of a sudden there’s somebody [available] and you decide, ‘Hey, let’s go do this,’” Loomis said while speaking with reporters at LSU’s pro day.

“We have a short-term plan and a long-term plan,” Loomis continued. “And we come into each offseason with 19 or 20 or 25 different things that we want to get accomplished. And you just kind of go down the checklist. And obviously things come up that are unexpected, and you have to react to those. But for the most part, it’s a plan and an execution of the plan.

“So I would say it was kind of business as usual.”

Asked how many of those items the Saints have hit, Loomis said, “We’ve hit a lot of them. We always do. We don’t hit every item, but we hit almost all of them.”

(Click here for a recap of all the Saints' moves as of the beginning of last week.)

The Saints are actually in great shape with the salary cap after agreeing to a pay cut with defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley last week. They’re now $3.6 million under the cap, and they probably don’t have too many more expensive purchases left in their shopping cart.

New Orleans still has some noteworthy tasks left to complete. The biggest is signing tight end Jimmy Graham to a long-term contract extension, but Loomis insisted that there is no immediate pressure to get that done. Graham's franchise tag figure is already counting $7.035 million against the Saints' salary cap, so they don't need to clear out any new cap space for him.

The Saints also need to find a new starting center after letting Brian de la Puente get away in free agency, though they like second-year pro Tim Lelito’s potential as a candidate for that role.

And there are a few other positions where New Orleans needs to get younger, including receiver, but most of those needs can be filled through the draft.

As Loomis suggested, we won’t know until the fall whether the Saints’ plan worked out. But so far, at least, everything is going as planned.

“I feel like we’ve executed our plan well,” Loomis said. “Whether that’s a good plan or not remains to be seen. But we feel like it is.”
If anybody should be worried about all the offseason moves the Carolina Panthers have made at wide receiver, it should be tight end Greg Olsen.

He has the most to lose since coverages that were focused on Steve Smith, often leaving the middle of the field open, could be shifted to the tight end.

But Olsen isn't concerned -- or if he is he's not showing it.

"I know everyone at one point was kind of panicking," Olsen recently told the Charlotte Observer at a screening of the movie "Draft Day." "Would it have been nice to have those [receivers] back? Of course.

"But I think we’ve signed a lot of guys that can fill a lot of those roles. We’re putting it together. It’s hard to judge a team in March. When the season gets closer, that will be a better example of what our team is.”

The Panthers released Smith, their all-time leading receiver, in March. They lost their next three wide receivers, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr., and Domenik Hixon, to free agency.

That left them without a receiver on the roster that caught a pass last season.

They have since signed Jerricho Cotchery (Pittsburgh), Jason Avant (Philadelphia) and Tiquan Underwood (Tampa Bay), but none of those receivers has put up statistics close to what Smith did during his career. None are considered a No. 1 receiver. Most were a second, third or even fourth option last season.

Again, Olsen isn't concerned even though he now will become a central piece in game plans to stop the Carolina passing attack. If anything he's optimistic because the team signed Baltimore free agent tight end Ed Dickson, opening up the possibility of more two-tight-end sets.

Quarterback Cam Newton threw for a career-high 4,051 yards as a rookie in 2011 with Olsen and Jeremy Shockey running a lot of two-tight-end sets. They combined for 82 catches for 995 yards and nine touchdowns.

"There is a plan," Olsen said. "We have to trust in that. Mr. Gettleman's done an awesome job since he’s gotten here in a short time putting pieces in place to fill holes. And doing so with guys other people maybe overlooked. Last year, a lot of the guys that came in were in that type of situation and were huge parts of our team.”
CONCORD, N.C. -- Steve Smith didn't look particularly comfortable climbing behind the wheel of a top fuel dragster at zMax Speedway on Friday, but the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver is very comfortable with his new NFL team.

"The confidence I have in myself, I look good in any color," said Smith, the guest of NHRA star Antron Brown during the 4-Wide Nationals. "I look good in purple, so I'll be fine."

Smith was released by the Carolina Panthers, his home for his first 13 NFL seasons, in March. Twenty-four hours later, he signed with the Ravens.

The Panthers went on to lose Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon -- their next three wide receivers behind Smith in 2013 -- in free agency.

General manager Dave Gettleman has taken a lot of heat, first for releasing Carolina's all-time leading receiver and then for not keeping others from a corps that helped the Panthers to a 12-4 record.

He's brought in Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood and Jason Avant, all second, third or fourth options from other teams. That hasn't justified the other moves to the masses.

Smith isn't concerned.

"What I think about what's going on is I concern myself with what's going on in Baltimore and I no longer concern myself with what's going on with the Carolina Panthers," Smith said. "But I concern myself with what's going on in Charlotte, N.C.

"I do my football camp here. But I no longer have the luxury to be a part of that [team], so I don't concern myself with it. Not that I'm upset. Not that I'm mad. It's just the fact of the business."

Smith has taken the high road since his release. He plans to keep his home in Charlotte and enjoy days like this one that he shared with his son, Boston. He hopes to one day retire as a Carolina player.

But for now his football focus is all on Baltimore. Smith, 34, wouldn't even comment on Carolina coach Ron Rivera recently saying he needed to "tone things down" in his practice and workout routine or risk wearing himself down.

"I'm focusing on April 21st," Smith said. "April 21st I'll be in Baltimore doing our workouts. What's in the past is in the past. At the end of the day, you go to the kitchen, you get a washcloth, you pick up the spilled milk and move on.

"That's what I'm doing, moving on."

Smith still keeps in close contact with some of his former teammates. He, LaFell, Ginn and Hixon get together and occasionally have "group texts."

"Who your current employer is does not change the friendship or camaraderie we've built," Smith said. "Just because we collect checks from different organizations doesn't mean we cut each other off."

While Smith wouldn't talk about what Carolina has done to replace its wide receivers, he was interested in Brown's response when I asked if he could play wide receiver for the Panthers.

"They don't need my skill set," Brown said with Smith leering on with a big smile.

Brown let Smith warm his 10,000 horsepower engine up between qualifying runs, albeit the car was off the ground so the wheels couldn't move.

Smith had no desire to make a run down the track.

"Antron will also bill me and he will know I will be able to pay for it and so I think I might buy him a new car, and I'm not trying to go down that road," Smith said. "As athletes, sometimes we can come across and say I can do it. I can't do it. You can try, but you can't.

"You can't do what these men and women have been doing and perfecting since they were young kids. So you can't just wake up out of bed and think you're going to be a driver ... . And I also believe drivers are athletes."

Smith could pay for one of Brown's car because the Ravens gave him a three-year deal worth $11 million. He also received $5 million from the Panthers this season in guaranteed money and deferred bonuses.

But Smith wasn't interested in driving on this day. He was just interested in being a dad and seeing how another athlete does his job.

"This is who I am," he said. "I've got the opportunity to experience another athlete's world, and it happens to be home. This is my home ... . This is in my backyard. This is my community. This is my town.

"But it's no longer my team."
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already lead the league in one category.

Since the start of free agency, the Bucs have given out $74.3 million in guaranteed money to their incoming free agents and the ones they’ve re-signed, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

No other team is even close. Denver is second with $65.5 million in guaranteed money. The Raiders ($51 million) and the Vikings ($50.2 million) are the only other teams to top $50 million in guaranteed money.

But spending big money in free agency doesn’t necessarily translate into success. Last year, four teams (Lions, Dolphins, Colts and Cowboys) spent at least $50 million in guaranteed money in the first month of free agency. The Colts were the only one of those teams to make the playoffs.
The Atlanta Falcons are continuing to do their homework on a variety of pass-rushers in preparation for the NFL draft.

Boise State's Demarcus Lawrence, a defensive end/outside linebacker prospect, is in Atlanta for a visit, according to a league source. Lawrence is projected as a second-round pick, although his strong workouts have earned him first-round consideration.

The 6-foot-3, 251-pound Lawrence is a South Carolina native who attended Butler Community College (Kansas) before transferring to Boise State. Last season, he led the Mountain West Conference with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. He then declared early for the draft.

Lawrence has impressed scouts with his aggressiveness and instincts. At the combine, he showed the ability to drop into coverage while performing linebacker drills. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds at Boise State's pro day.

Lawrence's agent, David Canter, recently tweeted that his client had 10 visits lined up in 14 days.

The Falcons sorely need pass-rush help and are looking into a number of first- and second-round-caliber talents to possibly fill the void. Most expect them to consider Buffalo's Khalil Mack in the first round if he's still available with the sixth overall pick. Trading up for South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney seems to be a long shot at this point, with Clowney projected to go No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans.

ESPN Draft expert Todd McShay has Auburn pass-rusher Dee Ford falling to the Falcons in the second round of his latest mock draft.

BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy is visiting the Falcons next Wednesday while UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr is visiting the week of April 21. Mack, who already had a private workout with the Falcons, doesn't have a visit scheduled with the Falcons just yet.

Rotation won't slow Doug Martin

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
Even though coach Lovie Smith has said he plans to use a rotation in his backfield, don't go dropping Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin from your fantasy team.

Martin still is going to be the main ball carrier and that means he still will be a fantasy force. Smith and his staff will work Mike James and Bobby Rainey into the rotation, but that’s not going to diminish Martin’s impact.

If anything, not having to handle virtually all the carries, the way he did under former coach Greg Schiano, should help keep Martin fresh. James and Rainey showed they’re capable runners last year when Martin was out with a shoulder injury.

But James and Rainey aren’t quite in Martin's class and that means the rotation isn't going to split up the carries too much. Martin still will get the bulk of the carries and he’s shown he can produce in fantasy and real life.

The Bucs are going to run the ball a lot, maybe even more than they did with Schiano. James and Rainey will help keep Martin fresh. That little bit of rest could help Martin, who carried 319 times and caught 49 passes as a rookie in 2012, be even more productive.
With the first month of free agency now in the books, ESPN Stats & Information put together some league-wide numbers. And it was interesting to note that the New Orleans Saints were among the most and least aggressive teams at the same time.

The Saints only added three players from other NFL teams in free agency (Jairus Byrd, Champ Bailey and Erik Lorig). That tied for the lowest number in the league, along with the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams.

However, the New Orleans Saints were the biggest spenders on any one player. They gave Byrd more guaranteed money than any other free agent in the NFL this offseason.

Byrd’s $26.3 million in guaranteed money beat out Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert ($26.0 million), Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib ($25.5 million) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson ($23.0 million).

With the Saints investing so heavily in one player, it’s the equivalent of trading up for a top pick in the draft. Only this time they “traded up” for the top pick in free agency.

The division-rival Buccaneers, meanwhile, led the NFL in both new free agents signed (15) and total guaranteed money spent since March 11 ($74.3 million).
The New Orleans Saints are now $3.6 million under the salary cap, according to the NFL Players Association, after their latest flurry of moves. Their new two-year deal for safety Rafael Bush was officially processed on Thursday.

Bush’s deal is worth between $3.8 million and $4.55 million, depending on incentives.

He’ll make $1.85 million this year, which is also his 2014 salary-cap cost. Bush did not receive a signing bonus, but $850,000 of his salary is guaranteed.

He is due $1.95 million in 2015, which is also his 2015 cap cost. He can earn an escalator of up to $750,000 next year based on interceptions and a Pro Bowl appearance this season.

Bush was already on the books for a $1.4 million cap hit this year since the Saints had previously made him a one-year qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. So the new deal doesn’t affect the cap much.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' trip to LSU’s pro day didn’t end with the on-field workouts Wednesday. LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said he was planning to have dinner with Saints officials on Wednesday night. And Beckham’s father told The Advocate that fellow LSU receiver Jarvis Landry was also scheduled to dine with the Saints.

It’s possible that Saints officials spent extra time with other LSU prospects, as well. As usual, the Saints’ entire coaching staff and front office was out in full force at the Tigers’ pro day, just an hour up the road in Baton Rouge.

But Beckham and Landry must be particularly intriguing prospects for the Saints. A case could be made that the receiver position should rank No. 1 on New Orleans’ wish list now that Marques Colston is the only veteran left on the current roster.

The Saints could use a dynamic athlete to help stretch the field immediately. And they’ll eventually need a replacement for Colston, too.

Beckham would be the most tantalizing option – a speedy athlete who could also serve as a dynamic punt returner. Plus, he was raised in New Orleans and said it’s a “surreal feeling” to even think about getting to play in his hometown.

However, most analysts project that he won’t be around when the Saints pick at No. 27. And Beckham’s impressive performance in pass-catching drills Wednesday only strengthened his case.

Landry also strengthened his draft stock on Wednesday by running the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds (according to LSU). That was a marked and much-needed improvement over his surprisingly slow time of 4.77 seconds at the NFL scouting combine in February.

Landry’s showing could help strengthen his case to be a second-round draft choice.