July 18, 2006

Saints Ink Fifth-Round Pick Ninkovich

The Saints have announced their third draft pick signing, today inking fifth-round pick Rob Ninkovich of Purdue to his three-year rookie contract. The contract, negotiated by representation agency Domann & Pittman, is slotted in by Ninkovich's draft position.

Only the second player out of Purdue selected by the Saints in the past 22 years (DB Michael Hawthorne, 2000), Ninkovich weighs in at 6'2, 252 pounds, about 20-30 pounds away from the prototypical weight for a defensive end in the NFL.

In fact, Ninkovich is undersized even for major college football defensive ends. But the high-energy Ninkovich still notched eight sacks in each of his two years at Purdue, despite starting only five games, all as a senior. He was named MVP of the Boilermakers as a senior, a testament to his work ethic and leadership qualities. Chock full of football smarts and active all over the field, Ninkovich nevertheless has much to overcome from a physical standpoint in the NFL.

Meanwhile, Ninkovich has a shot to be a special teams standout, a role he also held at Purdue. Although his experience as a long snapper won't likely be needed with Kevin Houser on the team, Ninkovich covered kickoffs and returns in college. He will only have a shot on NFL rosters by doing more of the same.

On June 18, Ninkovich and new teammate QB Drew Brees returned to Purdue for an honors dinner where Brees himself presented Ninkovich with the Drew Brees Mental Toughness Award.

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