Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana has generated allot of hype the last few days, especially from teams picking in the bottom of the first round.
Ijalana, an All-American last season, was unable to participate in drills at the combine due to injury, but recorded a 5.12 in the 40-yard dash, a 27″ vertical jump, and a 9’0″ broad jump at his pro day yesterday.
More than half of the NFL’s teams were in attendance (23 total) to view his workout, which was met with mixed reviews. However scouts feel he is good enough to be a 1st or 2nd round pick.
In the case of the Saints they hold the 24th pick in the first round and 56th in the second where they may consider targeting the young prospect.
Wisconsin’s’ Gabe Carimi is also expected to be available somewhere at the bottom of the first round and is considered to be slightly better prospect. Carimi’s presence at 20-24 could diminish Ijalana’s draft stock and solidify him as a second round pick.
Defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker are considered the Saints most pressing needs making the drafting of an offensive tackle with their top pick somewhat confusing.
However starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod will be a free agent when ever a new CBA is agreed upon and while he has been solid at times has struggled in pass protection. The depth behind him is also minimal as second year pro Charles Brown is an unproven commodity with little actual game experience.
So far the Saints have been linked to, or have met with the following prospects: California defensive end Cameron Jordan, OSU running back Kendall Hunter, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Syracuse running back Delone Carter, Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant, Texas A&M defensive linemen Frank Kearse, Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Texas corner back Curtis Brown.