What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think about the New Orleans Saints and draft needs? First and foremost it’s likely defensive end, followed by outside linebacker and defensive tackle. Needless to day, safety was not a position that did come to mind, although maybe it should.
Appalachian State free safety Mark LeGree visited with the Saints sometime in the last week or two, according to a report on NFP, who seem to have intimate knowledge of the teams draft visits.
Playing primarily as a reserve and a special teams contributor his freshman year, Legree exploded on the scene his sophmore season grabbing 10 interceptions in 2008, which led the nation.
He became only the 23rd player in FCS history to accomplish the feat. It was also a new school record, breaking the long standing mark of eight set by Larry Harbin in 1963.
LeGree went on to intercept seven passes in 2009 and five more in 2010, boosting his career total to 22, which was good enough for him to become the new NCAA Division I FCS and FBS interception leader.
Legree possesses the football IQ, measurables, and hands to provide valuable depth as a reserve safety. However, lacks elite ability in coverage and isn’t productive enough against the run. Shows very good instincts in zone coverage, peeking into the backfield, anticipating routes, and making plays on the football but does not react as well to the run. Very capable in deep half coverage but won’t be a good match up in man coverage in the NFL. Flashes the ability to be a physical hitter but needs to become more reliable as a tackler an in run support. Legree’s a mid-round prospect. — Sourced from nfl.com
Reserve safety is likely exactly how the Saints view LeGree. Last season Malcolm Jenkins emerged as an elite safety locking him in as the future starter for the Saints.
However the Saints have more than a few safeties slated to become free agents, including Matt Giordano, Chris Reis, Pierson Prioleau, Usama Young and Roman Harper.
Harper and Young were both tendered offers before the expiration of the current CBA a few months back. It’s likely both will re-sign when labor peace is established, the others may not be so fortunate, likely forcing the Saints hand when addressing the depth at the position.
LeGree is projected to go sometime between the fourth and sixth round. The Saints hold no picks there but do have two in the third, thanks to the teams dealing of OT Jammal Brown for picks last season to the Washington Redskins