NFC South: Broderick Bunkley

Unless there’s a trade, the NFC South is done with the third round of the draft. This will be a short summary since the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons didn’t have picks in the round.

Let’s take a look at what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints did in the third round:

With the 73rd overall pick, the Bucs selected North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon. Relax, there’s not suddenly a quarterback controversy in Tampa, at least not yet. Josh Freeman remains the starter and the Bucs are hopeful he’ll become more consistent as he enters the final year of his contract. But, if Freeman doesn’t work out, Glennon could be a candidate to start in 2014. For now, he’s competing with Dan Orlovsky for the backup job. Here’s Jon Gruden’s Insider scouting report Insider on Glennon.

At No. 75, the Saints selected Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive tackle Terron Armstead. He becomes an instant possibility to start at left tackle after the departure of Jermon Bushrod as a free agent. The Saints have Jason Smith and Charles Brown on the roster, but they’re not sold on either one.

The Saints, who picked up a little more draft currency by trading running back Chris Ivory to the Jets, traded with Chicago to get the No. 82 pick and they used it to take Georgia defensive tackle Johnathan Jenkins. As the Saints convert to a 3-4 scheme, the massive Jenkins looks like a logical fit to rotate with Brodrick Bunkley.
For those of you that read this blog regularly, you know I see LSU defensive end/linebacker Barkevious Mingo and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones as the two most logical draft possibilities for the New Orleans Saints at No. 15.

My thinking hasn’t changed at all. The Saints need a strong pass-rusher as they switch to the 3-4 scheme and Mingo and Jones each fit that profile.

But, as I get ready to make New Orleans’ first-round pick in next week’s blog network mock draft, I’m trying to prepare for all scenarios. And one scenario could be that Jones and Mingo both are off the board.

Georgia’s Alec Ogletree also has been tied to the Saints in some mock drafts. He’s an inside linebacker and a good one. The Saints have Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma at inside linebacker. However, Vilma might be nearing the end of his career and it might be time to look to the future.

If Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is available at No. 15, I’d have to consider him. The Saints already have Brodrick Bunkley, but they need all the help they can get for a run defense that was hideous last year.

There’s another spot on the defense that I’d also consider. That’s cornerback. Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant would have to be considerations. I’m not sure the Saints can afford to count on Patrick Robinson as the third cornerback after Keenan Lewis and Jabari Greer.

As much as the Saints need help on defense, I’m not completely ruling out a surprise. Sean Payton is an offensive coach. The Saints are a little thin at wide receiver beyond Marques Colston and Lance Moore. I’m not completely ruling out West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin.

Those are my thoughts on the Saints’ scenarios. Let’s hear what you have to say in the comments section below. And I’m more than open to alternative scenarios that I didn’t mention.
Here is how I see the New Orleans Saints' starting lineup as they head toward the NFL draft:


WR Marques Colston

LT Charles Brown

LG Jahri Evans

C Brian De La Puente

RG Ben Grubbs

RT Zach Strief

TE Jimmy Graham

WR Lance Moore

QB Drew Brees

RB Pierre Thomas and/or Darren Sproles

FB Jed Collins


DE Will Smith

DT Brodrick Bunkley

DE Cameron Jordan

OLB Victor Butler

ILB Curtis Lofton

ILB Jonathan Vilma

OLB Junior Galette or Martez Wilson

CB Keenan Lewis

CB Jabari Greer

FS Malcolm Jenkins

SS Roman Harper

Notes: Brown is not a sure thing at all at left tackle. The Saints may draft a left tackle or sign one later in free agency. The team has high hopes for Wilson and Galette, but still could look to add a pass-rushing linebacker. The starting cornerbacks are probably set, but the Saints still could look to upgrade over Patrick Robinson as the No. 3 cornerback.
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints went through two minicamp practices Tuesday. I'm working on several columns and other items for the future, but let me share some quick notes and observations from the first day of minicamp.
  • At times, quarterback Chase Daniel looked very good while working with the first team. Same for Sean Canfield, but it’s pretty obvious these guys aren’t quite on Drew Brees’ level. I’m pretty sure Tuesday was the first time I’ve seen the Saints practice and witnessed back-to-back incompletions. That basically doesn’t happen with Brees.
  • Assistant head coach Joe Vitt said it’s too early to talk about defensive linemen because they’re not hitting and they’re not in pads. But it’s pretty obvious Vitt is high on young defensive ends Greg Romeus, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson.
  • Vitt said he’s not ready to say that Wilson’s move from linebacker to defensive end is permanent. But Vitt said Wilson’s past as a linebacker gives him an advantage on the other defensive ends as they sometimes are being asked to drop into pass coverage in the new defensive scheme.
  • Although the Saints had only five draft picks this year, Vitt said he views the class as having six members. Romeus had to sit out his rookie season with a knee injury and Vitt said he’s being treated as a rookie.
  • Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo expressed the same precaution about judging defensive linemen before full contact, but he sounded very high on defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, who joined the Saints during the offseason. Spagnuolo raved about Bunkley’s fundamentals and attention to detail.
  • Tight end Jimmy Graham appears to have added some muscle in the offseason. I asked him about it and Graham said his weight is still 265, but said he’s spent a little more time in the weight room and has added some muscle.
  • The Saints added a little secondary depth just before minicamp. They signed former Tampa Bay cornerback Elbert Mack.
  • The Saints lost guard Carl Nicks to Tampa Bay in free agency, but quickly replaced him with Ben Grubbs. Nicks may be the best guard in the NFL, but Grubbs isn’t bad. In fact, he may be better than Nicks in some ways. “I think that he is probably a little better communicator on the line of scrimmage than Carl Nicks,’’ Vitt said.
  • The Saints clearly are in the experimental stages at linebacker. They opened the morning session with Curtis Lofton, Scott Shanle and David Hawthorne working with the first team. In the afternoon session, they shook things up and had free-agent pickup Chris Chamberlain working with the first team in Shanle's spot.
  • Zach Strief worked with the first team at right tackle in the morning session, but Strief wasn’t on the field in the afternoon. It wasn’t clear if Strief was injured or if there was another reason for his absence. Rookie Marcel Jones worked with the first team in the afternoon. I’m not sure that bodes well for the future of Charles Brown, who Vitt previously said was competing for a starting job.
  • Left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who was rehabbing an injury through the early part of organized team activities, was back on the field and practicing with the first team Tuesday.
  • Former Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson, now the head coach at Tulane, brought his staff out to watch practice. Vitt said Johnson offered a critique after the morning session.
  • I know a lot of New Orleans fans like to criticize strong safety Roman Harper’s pass- coverage skills. But I did see Haprer coming through with a nice breakup on a deep pass in the morning session.

Around the NFC South

March, 18, 2012
It appears we’ve hit a little lull after a fast start to free agency through most of the NFC South. But I’m not expecting it to last. I expect another wave of signings in the coming days. They might not be as big as the early ones, but several NFC South teams are hosting free-agent visitors this weekend and deals could be worked out soon. Let’s take a look at the headlines from around the division.

The New Orleans Saints had free-agent defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley in for a visit. Aubrayo Franklin and Shau Rogers are free agents and the Saints need to add a run-stuffing tackle to play next to Sedrick Ellis. The Saints also are looking at several linebackers. They don’t have much salary-cap room to work with, but could release players or restructure contracts to clear some room.

The Panthers hosted a visit with San Diego running back Mike Tolbert. Presumably, he would replace Mike Goodson as Carolina’s third back behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but it’s also possible the Panthers could look to trade one of the two if Tolbert is added. Stewart is more likely to be used as trade bait because Williams signed a huge contract last season and other teams aren’t likely to want to take on his deal. Coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski also are familiar with Tolbert from their time together in San Diego. There also have been some reports that Tampa Bay might have interest in Tolbert.

The Bucs still have issues in the front seven of their defense, particularly at linebacker. Although the team says it is focusing in on the April draft after an early splash in free agency, I still would be surprised if there is some movement at linebacker. The Bucs are monitoring the situation with Curtis Lofton and could get more involved if his price tag drops. The Bucs also could look for help at outside linebacker.