April 30, 2011

Nate Bussey, linebacker, Illinois

Nate Bussey, linebacker, Illinois, 243rd overall pick, 40th in the 7th round
6'1", 228, 4.51 40

The Saints wrapped up their 2011 draft class with Nate Bussey, another linebacker from Illinois.  A teammate of third round pick Martez Wilson and a recruit of former Saint DC Ron Zook, the head coach of the Illini.

Bussey was a quarterback, safety and kick returner in high school.  He played part time on defense until starting as a senior and played on all coverage teams, Bussey was an All-Big 10 honorable mention 69 tackles, 6.5 for a loss, one sack, one interception, three fumble recoveries and a blocked punt.

A good character guy, Bussey has already graduated from college and is a 21-year old senior.

He played both outside linebacker positions.  In the NFL he might be shifted to strong safety, because he may lack the size to play weakside linebacker in the NFL.

But realistically, Bussey is a special teams player with not much potential to actually contribute on defense.  That said, with his experience, hard work ethic and tough mentality, Bussey could be an immediate impact on the Saints' special teams.  Bussey is going to be a favorite of the coaching staff and with the massive number of free agents pending when the league re-opens.  The Saints stand to have the core of the special teams contributors hit the open market.

Bussey will also be a familiar influence for third round pick Martez Wilson, a super-build outside linebacker who came from a troubled background and has a history for needing motivation.   The Saints took the same strategy in 2007 when they drafted Robert Meachem early and his teammate Marvin Mitchell in the 7th.

After having never drafted one of Zook's players before, the Saints added two.

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