April 29, 2004

Rodney Leisle - Defensive Tackle - UCLA

#139 Overall Pick: Rodney Leisle
Defensive Tackle - UCLA
6-3 - 309 pounds - 5.11 40

5.11 in the 40-yard dash … Bench presses 225 pounds 31 times … 31 3/8-inch arm length … 11 1/8-inch hands

In four years at UCLA, fifth-year senior Leisle started 40 of 43 games and recorded 131 tackles with six sacks and four interceptions, three picks in his senior season. Leisle was able to neutralize double teams which allowed the other UCLA defensive linemen to get to the quarterback. He is technically sound and is a great tackler. Has good quickness and plays much bigger than his sub-300 pound weight.

Leisle had a 55-yard game-winning interception return for a touchdown in an October 11 game against Arizona.

An ankle injury frustrated Leisle during his senior season and despite lingering pain, Leisle did a gutsy workout at UCLA's pro day. He suffered a broken ankle as a junior, but had surgery and returned to play the final three games of the season. It is believed he slipped a bit because of his injuries, as he was projected as a third round pick.

Leisle shows good vision and awareness, which allows him to quickly read and react to blocks. A overachieving, high-motor, intense player he rarely takes off plays and goes full-speed all game long. Not a very high upside for Leisle although he has been a consistent and durable player throughout his career.

One of the knocks on Leisle is his inability to burst through the gap and cause great penetration. Another knock on Leisle is his lack of size. Some believe that Leisle needs to improve his bulk so he can become better against the run.

Leisle, a sociology major, earned a spot on director's Honor Roll in winter 2001 with a 3.33 GPA. A native of Bakersfield, California, Leisle is a paintball enthusiast and was a basketball and football star, and with football he was a star on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Leisle will provide depth and strength to the Saints interior defensive line. More than likely Leisle will compete for the third spot in the DT rotation with Kenny Smith and Kendrick Allen. The Saints chose Leisle shortly before LSU DT Chad Lavalais went off the board, and when asked, Saints personnel executive Rick Mueller suggested that Leisle would be a better nose tackle than Lavalais, who would be limited to the 3-technique defensive tackle. Leisle's strengths lie in run defense.

The Saints expect Leisle to be ready by mid-May following ankle surgery the month before the draft. He is not expected to be ready for the rookies-only practice camp the weekend after the draft.

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