Ross Jackson

The Saints Beef Up O-Line Depth with a Questionable Selection

With their fourth round pick, the Saints selected RT Rick Leonard out of Florida State. I’d personally never heard of him and some good friends didn’t even have him on their board. The 6’7″ 311-pound Maryland native started his college career recruited as a 4-star defensive end who was awarded First-Team All-State honors. After the 2015 season in which he contributed mostly on special teams, he was asked to move to the offensive line. He then started six games at right tackle in 2016 and became their starting RT for all 13 games of the 2017 season.

In 2016, he was a part of the offensive line that blocked for Dalvin Cook’s four-touchdown game against Syracuse and didn’t allow a sack to the fierce Florida defense as well that year. In 2017 he helped the ‘Noles running back tandem amass 1,772 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Beyond that information via NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com (which are far from the end-all-be-all), there’s not much more on Leonard aside from the fact that he was projected to go undrafted. That might have to do with his small sample size (only 19 starts at his draft position). Though DraftScout has him ranked as the 498th prospect, Michael Ditillier had him as his 25th rated OT, and seminoles fans don’t seem convinced with his production.

WATCH: Interview with Leonard on FSU’s offensive line which is rated 35th by Football Outsiders.

Some things I can surmise, though: He has the ability to learn a new position and be malleable to what a teams needs. Meaning that if he needs to shift to LT to cover for Terron Armstead for a short time, it could happen. Though if we needed to cover Armstead for a few games, it’d probably be smarter to bounce Peat out to LT and run Bushrod at Guard. In which case Leonard could be insurance. That kind of depth can be valuable. Drafting Leonard seems to be more about getting someone that can hopefully develop into Senio Kelemete’s production across the line more than it is about finding a starter like Ramczyk turned out to be. Leonard apparently had a good workout with the Saints in Tallahassee.

This is probably more of a depth pick than someone that will end up starting outright. He’d be a, hopefully serviceable, reserve as someone that can swing in and spell tackles and guards. Not sure why this was the pick over someone like Colby Gossett or Will Richardson, but I guess in Payton/Loomis/Ireland we trust. But to be honest, this is a hard one to get behind with several valuable players still on the board.