"It's been kinda busy in this last round," Payton said, an understatement for the flurry of two picks and two trades the Saints made in the middle of the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
"Mickey [Loomis] for the better part of the past couple weeks has been working with the people in New York. It came to fruition after our first pick in the third round," Payton said. The Saints selected Arkansas-Pine Bluff OT Terron Armstead, and within minutes would executed two quick-fire trades and pick up a mountainous nose tackle in Georgia's John Jenkins.
Payton said the Saints had a lot of research on Armstead, and referred especially to the East-West Shrine game where Armstead dominated. Payton said that Armstead was very intelligent and "won a lot of games," including the 2012-13 SWAC football championship.
Payton noted that it is difficult to tell with players from small schools how well they will adjust and be ready to play. "Go back to our first year with Colston in the rookie camp," Payton reminisced. "He was on the ground with his back... and really struggled with conditioning... Then all of a sudden he starts the season at x [receiver]."
Payton noted that the Saints have been "disciplined" in the draft and have had "good fortune finding offensive lineman" in the draft, and hoped that Armstead would be just another example of that. The Saints have a major need following the departure of long-time starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod to Chicago via free agency.
"With the departure of Jermon, we felt like that wasn't something that was surprising. If that big number came from a team like Chicago, we were certainly excited for him," Payton said, meaning that the Saints would have a number of their own, and if another team exceeded it, they'd let the free agent go elsewhere.
Payton did not name a starter at left tackle, and rather said he was looking forward to the competition at left tackle between Armstead, Charles Brown and Jason Smith.
"We had a clump of players there," Payton said about the middle of the third round, triggering a trade back into the spot. "After we made the first selection, we were back on the phone with the Jets." Payton repeatedly referred to a "cloud" of wanted players at the bottom of the third round, which Armstead and Jenkins were a part of. Payton also mentioned that Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton was a target of the Saints, but was drafted by the Steelers before the trade was ready.
The Saints had reportedly been asking for a fourth round pick all along for Ivory, who will now be a feature back for the Jets. Mickey Loomis successfully talked the Jets up from a reported sixth round pick. "I think the four was something that both sides felt pretty fair about," Payton said. "It's a great opportunity for him, I know he's excited, I'm excited for him."
Ivory will reportedly get a new long-term contract from the Jets, and will face the Saints on November 3 in East Rutherford, NJ.
"I see [Jenkins] starting off as a nose [tackle], and I think that he's familiar with that having played that at Georgia in a similar scheme," Payton said of Jenkins, who is expected to rotate with Brodrick Bunkley at nose tackle immediately in the Saints' new 3-4. "I think his weight will be 340 or 345, " Payton said about Jenkins' weight.
"We had a little exposure based on the interview... and that was a part of it... They had a number of good guys on that football team," Payton said of the Georgia football team and their defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who interviewed with the Saints for their defensive coordinator position in February but was not hired.
"I like their makeup, I like their mental character... of both of these guys," Payton said about the two third round picks. "I'm anxious to see how they do coming in here, transitioning to our team."
Payton said there was "no hesitation at all with that selection" of last night's first round pick Kenny Vaccaro, despite the fact the Saints took almost all of their ten minute allotment to make the pick at 15.