- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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METAIRIE, La. -- As usual, Drew Brees found a way to put a positive spin on the New Orleans Saints' draft, even though it included them selecting a quarterback in Round 3 and not selecting any new weapons to replace departed pass-catchers Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills or Pierre Thomas.
Brees, who deemed himself last year as "annoyingly optimistic," said he's excited to see how the Saints' young players will now develop into more prominent roles.
"I think the message that was sent to our young skill position players is that we feel like we have the right tools in the building," Brees said of a group that includes receivers Nick Toon, Seantavius Jones and Brandon Coleman and tight end Josh Hill. "Our young receivers have some great opportunities. The departure of Jimmy Graham, and (Darren) Sproles two years ago, and Pierre, these are all touches that have to go somewhere now. So we're gonna have some young guys step up and contribute that haven't had many opportunities in the past. Yet they're gonna earn that right here throughout OTAs, minicamp, training camp.
"I'm excited to watch those guys develop. It's been a fun offseason for me in that regard, starting to envision how it could all come together for some of those guys."
Brees said it's also a positive to get back to the basics when it comes to teaching young players certain routes or concepts.
"It just reiterates it to me, ‘Hey, what were the origins of this route and how have we developed it over time and how has it evolved? How have we gotten to this point?'" Brees said.
As for the Saints' decision to draft Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson -- the first time they've drafted a quarterback before Round 7 during Brees' 10 years in New Orleans -- he again insisted that it won't affect his mindset.
"Maybe (my age) had a small portion to do with it," said Brees, 36. "But I think there's always this balance between best player or guy that you really, really like vs. need. ...
"Listen, I know our guys, they wouldn't invest in a guy in the third round if they didn't feel like this guy could be a great player and somebody they could develop and would contribute at some point or not. But for me that doesn't change my mindset as far as my preparation or my mentality as to how long I want to play or any of that stuff. I mean, I'm so focused on this year and really just each and every day … little benchmarks throughout this offseason.
"I'm not thinking about anything else other than making myself the best player I can be and making those around me as good as they can be."
Brees said he is just starting to get to know Grayson after meeting for the first time last weekend.
"I like him. He's fit in well with our quarterback room," Brees said. "We're guys that we like to have fun, certainly want to work, want to push each other and compete, and he falls right in line with that. He's a big, strong kid who seems very intelligent. And just like any rookie I think he's coming in feeling like, ‘Man, I've got a lot to learn and I'm going to do whatever I can to put myself in a position to maximize the reps I'm going to get and the opportunities I'm going to get and kind of learn from the guys in the room.'"
Brees answered those questions at the Saints' practice facility while doing a media blitz to promote his new business partnership with a local chain of sports bars called Walk-On's.
Among other topics Brees touched upon Wednesday, he was asked when he had last seen owner Tom Benson, who is engaged in a bitter legal feud with his family over the question of his mental competency.
"A couple days ago. Up in his office, just popped in to see him," Brees said. "He had three newspapers on his desk he was reading, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and one of the local papers. He seems as sharp as ever. The first thing he said to me was, ‘There's my quarterback.' And, ‘Man, I can't wait for this season to get started. How you like these young guys?' All that. So he seems rejuvenated and ready to roll."
Brees was also asked about New Orleans being invited to bid to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls: "It's a no-brainer. They should just give it to us right now," Brees said. "As long as there's no other stadium being built somewhere around the NFL because those tend to get the first dibs." Apparently he didn't realize that Atlanta is one of the teams bidding against New Orleans with the rival Falcons debuting a new stadium in 2017.
Brees also touched upon a variety of topics in a Wednesday radio interview with ESPN's SVP & Russillo, including Deflategate and Golden State Warrirors guard Stephen Curry's daughter stealing the show at his postgame press conference.