Fifth Round - 9th Pick - #144 Overall
DeMario Pressley, defensive tackle, North Carolina State
6'3, 303 pounds, 5.15 40 yard dash
Pressley is a physical project at defensive tackle. He has the prerequisite size and athleticism and like the Saints' previous pick at the position, plays a game of disrupting gaps and solid tackling. Moves very well for a big guy and at the top of his game is very quick.
Pressley beat 2007 third round pick DeMarcus "Tank" Tyler out on the depth chart and started in 2005 and 2006 for the Tarheels.
That's where the flowery praise ends. Pressley was cursed with injuries in 2007, suffering a broken left big toe, a right knee meniscus injury, a sprained ankle, a painful elbow injury that left multiple ligaments damaged. It started in 2006 with a dislocated wrist. Dogged by injuries, Pressley found his draft stock slipping badly despite a very healthy, very promising early college career. Because of injuries, his conditioning and discipline slipped, raising questions of his desire. When he was supposed to be coming into his prime as a senior, he started only eight games in 2007, playing through a list of injuries. That should speak of his toughness.
Pressley is nonetheless experienced and possesses a solid, strong frame to play inside in the NFL. Quick enough to perhaps slide outside to end, and would also fit as a DE in a 3-4 scheme. Collected only four sacks in his collegiate career.
Alternatives: After sitting patiently through rounds three and four, the Saints hopped up two spots to steal Pressly from the Bengals, whom they feared would take him at #145. Iowa State LB Alvin Bowen, Virginia Tech DT Carlton Powell, Texas DT Frank Okam, Florida State DT Letroy Guion, USC LB Thomas Williams all went almost immediately after, though three cornerbacks and a great value at tight end, Louisville's Gary Barnidge, went in the four picks before the Saints moved up. Michigan State TE Kellen Davis was also available.
Impact on Saints: The Saints didn't have much youth at all a defensive tackle before this weekend, and now they have two prospects for the one-gap defensive tackle spot. Neither Pressley nor Ellis should play the nose tackle, but both could learn from Brian Young. If Pressley can play near 100% of his potential and avoid injuries, he has a shot to make the team.