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How Have Saints Rookies Faired Through Minicamp? Rookie Updates From Saints Media

To make keeping up with the Saints rookies a little easier now that we’re in the break before Training Camp, I wanted to gather all of the info I could find on the rookies and how they faired through minis. So here is every update I could pull for each rookie and each day. Enjoy!

Note: This will continue to be updated throughout the offseason. Please feel free to contribute any additional comments to @RossJacksonASC.

Erik McCoy, Center – Round 1 Pick #48

College: Texas A&M

Contract Details: 4-year $6.1M, $2.4M signing bonus

Jersey Number: 78

Snap and Team Positions: 2nd Team Center and 1st Team Center

Day 1 Media Comments

Larry Holder, The Athletic, via Twitter

“Erik McCoy is becoming a staple with the ones at center the past open practices. Nick Easton staying at guard with Warford still out. Cameron Tom with the twos at center.”

John DeShazier, NewOrleansSaints.com, via Twitter

“McCoy getting work at center with the starters. Saints have a deep rotation going.”

Deuce Windham, The Athletic via Twitter

“Not surprised to see #Saints rookie OL Erik McCoy getting so many early looks. The depth/versatility of the OL has been a strength for them during the past two season, and will be interesting to see how many of these 1st team reps continue into camp/preseason.”

Day 2 Media Comments

Rod Walker, The Advocate, via Twitter

“Rookie Erik McCoy and Brees botched the exchange twice in three plays at one point as the Saints look for a replacement for retired center Max Unger. Said Payton: ‘We’ll get that squared away. Both of those two, we’ll figure it out.'”

Mike Triplett, ESPN, via Twitter

“Rookie center Erik McCoy has been working with the 1s for the last three practices we’ve seen now. Sean Payton said they’re still rotating there. But he has every chance to win that job. Nick Easton has been working at RG in place of rehabbing Larry Warford.”

Sean Fazende, FOX 8, via After Further Review: Five Takes From Saints Minicamp Day Two

“Brees mishandled two of the first three snaps from Erik McCoy.”

Day 3 Media Comments

Sean Payton comment from WWL Radio via Twitter

“Payton: Erik McCoy is exceptionally smart. Anxious to see him when we get started in training camp. He has picked things up well.”

Barry Hirstius, Big Easy Magazine, via 2019 Mini-Camp Takeaways article

“The 6-foot-4, 303-pound McCoy is well on his way to winning the starting job; and once Who Dats get to see him up close, it likely won’t come as much of a surprise. He’s that big, and clearly that GOOD of a player as well.”

Head Coach Sean Payton via post-practice press conference

“He received a lot of work with the first team. We’ve been rotating with a lot of these positions. But, he’s someone that I think learns well.”

OL Coach Dan Roushar following Minicamps

Video

“One of the things we see very quickly is Erik has developed quite a bit through this camp. Today was the first time he had a chance to really get in work with Drew. So that was a positive, you know?. Just to hear him in the huddle and see how he works. Saw some growth there. In some cases some growing pains but those are all things he’ll learn from and grow.”

Personal Analysis

The Saints have been often times hush-hush on the idea of McCoy being a Week 1 starter. And why shouldn’t they be? Why bet against the other guys that are competing? Nick Eason has a coupe year’s starting NFL experience and Cameron Tom has been on the Saints roster for three seasons now. Why invalidate the competition ahead of training camp? That’s just bad coaching. I’m looking forward to seeing these three guys push each other. McCoy has been the majority first-team Center throughout OTAs and mandatory minicamp, but some of that may have to do with Easton playing Larry Warford’s RG position while Warford is busy rehabbing from an undisclosed injury. Either way, my vote is on McCoy to be the starting center in 2019 and to put together a Ryan Ramczyk-like rookie season on the offensive line.


Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB – Round 6 Pick #177

College: Florida

Contract Details: 4-year $3.3M, $787k signing bonus

Jersey Number: 22

Snap and Team Positions: Nickel Boundary Corner, Box Safety, Blitz Packages, 1st Team Nickel Corner

Mike Triplett, ESPN, via The Surprise Offseason Standout for All 32 Teams Article

“The rookie fourth-round pick has made a quick impression this spring. Not only has he made a few flash plays in both rookie camp and OTAs, but the Saints clearly like his versatility as both a safety and slot corner in the nickel.”

Day 1 Media Comments

John Hendrix, Canal St. Chronicles, via Twitter

“Speaking of, Rishard Matthews just made a nice backshoulder catch against Chauncey Gardner-Johnson”

Day 2 Media Comments

Rod Walker, The Advocate, via Saints Minicamp Day 2, June 12: Brees Returns, attendance, P-Rob’s Pick Article

“Robinson is competing with P.J. Williams, who replaced him after he got hurt last year, for a starting role in the slot. Rookie fourth-round pick Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is getting reps there, too.”

Day 3 Media Comments

WWL Radio, via Twitter

“Fumble! Kamara muff punt…rookie Chauncey Gardner Johnson recovers”

Jeff Duncan, NOLA.com via Jared Cook, Carl Granderson Make Positive Impressions and Other Observations from Saints Minicamp

“Gardner-Johnson plays with an edge uncharacteristic of most rookies. He’s one of the most physical players in the secondary and isn’t afraid to deliver an extra-hard “love tap” to receivers during non-tackle drills.”

Personal Analysis

Aaron Glenn spoke with media back in May during Rookie Minicamp about his time with Gardner-Johnson at The Opening where the two first connected. “We butted heads,” Glenn said. “We probably continue to butt heads now. That’s Okay. I like that in some players.” Since then, we’ve been able to see that fire in CGJ throughout OTAs and mandatory minicamp. He’s made plays and also has given up some plays here and then, exactly what you expect from a rookie in the Saints secondary facing off against Drew Brees, Jared Cook, Michael Thomas, etc. But I’ll be damned if there’s a rookie that has ignited the Saints fanbase more than Gardner-Johnson this season. His versatility all around the defense, toughness, ability to recover, and play-making acumen will help him find his way on to the gridiron sooner rather than later once the regular season rolls around.


Saquan Hampton, Safety – Round 1 Pick #48

College: Rutgers

Contract Details: 4-year $2.7M, $196k signing bonus

Jersey Number: 33

Snap and Team Positions: Free Safety

Barry Hirstius, Big Easy Magazine and Saints News Network via Direct Quote

“Good player and has the talent necessary to play in the League; biggest question for me would be: how many defensive backs to do they (Saints organization) intend on keeping around come late August / early September…”

Personal Analysis

Hampton is probably the least likely of the five draft picks to make an immediate or substantial impact in his rookie season. I can clearly see him sticking on the 53-man roster as the fourth safety, a spot held Chris Banjo last season when Kurt Coleman was still in the building. Hampton joins Banjo along with Justin Hardee, Vince Bielgel, and Craig Robertson as standout special-teamers and that should help Hampton see the field his rookie season. He was a top-70 player on the Saints draft board so it’s no surprise to me at all that he can land with the team in 2019. But I am shocked at the lack of updates around the young Rutgers product.


Alizé Mack, Tight End – Round 7 Pick #231

College: Notre Dame

Contract Details: 4-year $2.6M, $94k signing bonus

Jersey Number: 86

Snap and Team Positions: Tight End (All-Teams)

Day 1 Media Comments

Sean Fazende, FOX 8 via Twitter

“Barret to Alize Mack looked like a corner route for a big gain during 7 on 7”

John Hendrix, Canal St. Chronicles via Twitter

“Payton says he’s liked what he’s seen out of Alize Mack. “Can run well.” Points out has had some rookie moments too.”

Sean Fazende, FOX 8 via After Further Review: Five Takes From Saints Minicamp Practice #1 Article

“Rookie tight end Alize Mack had a nice day today. He made two solid catches during seven-on-sevens. He also had a nice grab during two-minute from Hill.”

Rod Walker, The Advocate via Saints Minicamp Recap Day 1 Article

“Rookie tight end Alize Mack had a good day, showing off his hands with a couple nice catches in traffic.”

Personal Analysis

Alizé Mack is in the perfect position for a young Tight End. He’s got one of the best pass-catching Tight Ends ahead of him in Jared Cook, one of the most reliable blockers with pass-catching ability in Josh Hill, and competition at an open position for the third Tight End spot. He’ll be able to simultaneously compete and learn throughout training camp and his first season. Mack showed off some great pass-catching abilities at Notre Dame but suffered a couple of concussions in his time with the Fighting Irish. Rushed back, you could see his feet not entirely under him for a game or two with each return. That won’t be an issue in the NFL where head injuries are being taken much more seriously and his technique will be improved under TE and Assistant Head Coach Dan Campbell. Mack is in prime position, if he keeps his tools sharp, to develop into the next Tight End threat in New Orleans after Jared Cook.


Kaden Elliss, Linebacker – Round 7 Pick #244

College: Idaho

Contract Details: 4-year $2.6M, $77k signing bonus

Jersey Number: 55

Snap and Team Positions: Middle Linebacker (All-Teams)

Mike Nolan quote from Rod Walker, The Advocate via Kaden Elliss’ Key to Success During Offseason? Soaking up Knowledge from Saints’ Linebackers, His Dad Article

“He’s very instinctive, I believe he’s going to be a playmaker when he’s on the field.”

Personal Analysis

As many of you know, I was pounding the table for Kaden Elliss to New Orleans so just the fact that I get to write about him being here is very exciting to me. During my conversation with Elliss he mentioned that the Saints had been working him out at Middle Linebacker giving him the responsibilities of calling the shots for the defense. Considering his experience playing all along the defense, all four Linebacker positions at Idaho, Safety, Defensive End, and even 3-Tech against Washington State, it makes sense that he’d excel with the checks and responsibilities of the green dot (the helmet with the communication device). Of course, he also played Tight End and caught a touchdown, so there’s no telling what Sean Payton might also cook up for Elliss on the offensive side. Elliss has a pretty clear spot to the roster himself stepping into Manti Te’o’s position, although Te’o didn’t find himself as a gameday active for the majority of 2018. However, with Vince Biegel also being worked out as an edge rusher, perhaps there’s even more opportunity at the Linebacker position for Elliss than previously expected.

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