April 28, 2007

Tennessee WR Robert Meachem

Round One - Pick 27
Tennessee WR Robert Meachem
6'2 - 215 - 4.42 - 22 years old

Unlike the last offensive player from the Vols selected in the first round, WR Donte Stallworth, Meachem is stronger and more physical. Stallworth is faster, but Meachem's game is much more polished at this point, even though both left school a year early.

Meachem exited the college season well-rated, and only improved his stock at the combine when he ran a 4.42 in the 40, scored a great 37.5" vertical and a 6.97 in the three-cone agility drill, all great numbers for a receiver.

An outstanding young man as well as a hard worker, Meachem is one of the better receivers in the draft in terms of perimeter blocking. Don't make comparisons to Stallworth, whose rookie game was built on speed and suffered from sprinter's hamstring problems. The Saints had Meachem ranked highly and since Mickey Loomis is in charge, we know that Meachem was the top remaining prospect on the board.

Meachem is an Oklahoma native and a former high school point guard. He earned All-American and All-SEC honors in 2006, when he had a school record 1298 yards and 11 TD's on 71 catches. He played only two seasons at Tennessee, redshirted as a freshman because of surgery on a damaged meniscus in his knee. Against LSU last fall he had five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns from 37 and 54 yards out. Running at a defensive like LSU's, those numbers must be given some respect.

Tom Benson commented at the Draft Fest that teams had called for trade down opportunities, which the Saints turned down. Reportedly, the Saints had Meachem rated much, much higher than Greg Olsen. Saints WR coach Curtis Johnson said after the pick that Meachem is a "big guy, fast guy, great hands, got speed... Meachem was our pick." From everything we've heard, he was a consensus based on value.

"Evaluating Meachem the first play of the game against LSU, I know you guys don't want to hear it around here," Johnson said, "but he picked up the defensive back and slammed him down."

Johnson later added that Meachem reminds him of current Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson that he had down at Miami.

Head coach Sean Payton chimed in with the typical coachspeak: "Just looking in the first round, [Meachem] was one of about one or two guys we identified that we might even move a bit up for.

"He's someone we think very highly about obviously. He's a great person, he's got outstanding speed and skills. We thought he'd be someone that would be taken earlier.

"He seems to do a lot of things after the catch, that's what we look for oftentimes when we evaluate the position. It's a good start for us. We weren't specifically set on drafting a certain position, there were a handful of positions we wanted to address.

"It was a pretty easy pick honestly. There wasn't a lot of discussion or debate," Payton said to the Draft Fest after the pick.

GM Mickey Loomis said that it wasn't necessarily a position they were targeting, but he was the highest rated player on the board. Loomis said that the Saints did want to add a young receiver in the draft, and that there's a lot of things to like about Robert Meachem, who did meet with the Saints at their headquarters and at the combine. "He's going to come in and compete with a pretty good group," Loomis added when asked if Meachem was looked to as a starter.

Loomis said he made and received offers to move up and down from 27, but that they weren't able to get anything done to move up and didn't receive anything they wanted to move back. Meachem is represented by Jeff Griffin.

Other possibilities at #27 overall: Miami TE Greg Olsen, Arkansas CB Chris Houston, Michigan DT Alan Branch, Auburn G Ben Grubbs and USC WR Dwayne Jarrett.

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