<![CDATA[During head coach Sean Payton's tenure with the New Orleans Saints you've heard him say almost to an annoying beat that whenever they draft a player one of the first few words out of his mouth is "smart."
That can be taken in several ways such as he's smart football wise, with his education, personal decision making, or he is just well-rounded in all three areas.
For the Saints, or any NFL team for that matter, you want to strike ultimately on all three but you'll take the first and last one if you can't have the full package.
Physical ability is obviously at the top too, but as you've seen with 2015 first round selection in linebacker Stephone Anthony, you need both for the team and the player to have success.
Every year prior to the NFL Draft, the scouting department and coaches have to wade through this murky water of not only what might just be strictly a workout warrior, but a ticking time-bomb that could explode and destroy your team from the inside as well.
We've seen assured top ten physically gifted selections in December fall from grace and drop in the draft as their college season concludes and the months leading up to the draft, if you'll pardon the analogy, the real Slim Shady indeed stands up.
Saints fans ultimately think of 2010 undrafted free agent Junior Galette who went from being what we thought was a humble, fun-loving playmaking pass rusher, to a loud, braggadocios thorn in the side of coaches and teammates after he garnered a rich contract.
Galette seemed to transform almost overnight and began letting an exotic dancer stay in his residence which the police were called in January of 2015 and he was arrested, then shortly afterwards a car belonging to Galette being driven by his cousin was pulled over and found to have marijuana in it.
The ultimate was five months later when a video surfaced from 2013 of Galette allegedly going, as The Saints Nation writer Brian Pavech calls it, “full Pootie Tang” and striking a woman with a belt during a spring break beach brawl.
The Saints parted ways with Galette who let his true colors show after professing his love for New Orleans and the Saints, began to insult and throw blows at his former team and teammates as well.
While on the surface we wondered how it could happen so suddenly, this wasn’t an overnight transformation or a coincidence that once Galette got paid his true personality came out.
Looking back Galette had issues in college when he was at Temple University and kicked off the team for what he called in an article by ESPN’s Mike Triplett:
“‘boneheaded mistakes”, including personality clashes with coaches and an incident in which his cousin was arrested for stealing laptop computers from the dorm while visiting Galette on campus.
Although Galette said in a NOLA.com article by Larry Holder that even if you try to be a “choir boy” that “sometimes the trouble comes to you” it’s apparent he never tried to sidestep trouble too hard and hung with a crowd that encouraged the behavior and even blasted Payton in a video together with a literal “f**k Sean” while still with the team.
The Saints have done their hardest to rectify these problems with a change in their philosophy of scouting and drafting with the hiring of Jeff Ireland who admittedly had his own mistakes as general manager of the Miami Dolphins when they moved up to the third overall pick in the 2013 draft to select defensive end Dion Jordan.
Jordan played one full season and then ran into multiple suspensions afterwards for violating the league’s drug policy and has yet to play a down past the 2014 season.
The Saints will need to make decisions with several players going into this draft with one big one being a draft prospect that could help them in the front seven, linebacker Reuben Foster.
Foster, who has been mocked to the Saints frequently, allegedly got into a heated argument with a hospital worker at the NFL Combine medical exams and was subsequently sent home because of it.
The consensus is that there was a misunderstanding as Foster grew impatient with the delay in the exam and the conversation with the worker got out of hand quickly and could have been handled better by both parties.
This is a box though the Saints need to check to see if Foster has had any other issues in the past that could possibly surface again either on the field or off.
Another prospect that was mocked to the Saints early on was one of Foster’s teammates at Alabama in edge rusher Tim Williams who has had his recent draft stock hit with issues.
What was labeled as blanket “off the field” problems ended up materializing in the form of failed drug tests in the past while a member of the Crimson Tide.
Williams has actually met with the Saints staff and vowed that those days are behind him although the damage has been done with word that he might slip from the first to the second round, especially with all the emerging talent at the position leading up to the draft.
In fact WalterFootball.com stated as much and also referenced Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory as an example since Gregory and Williams situations almost mirror each other.
Gregory was considered a first round talent and was also brought in for a visit by the Saints prior to the 2015 draft even after a failed drug test…while at the NFL Combine!
He fell to the second round where the Cowboys took a chance on him, but after several more failed drug tests Gregory has played only 14 games due to suspension and faces a year long suspension in 2017 for “violating the NFL’s Policy for Substances of Abuse.”
While I get a different vibe from Williams, WalterFooball.com stated in the piece on him that according to sources “Williams’ issues with marijuana are comparable to Gregory.”
The Saints will have several months to do their due diligence on Foster, Williams, and the hundreds of other prospects so hopefully they can hit on the perfect trifecta of “smart” players that will help the team now and not hurt them in the long run.