Buzzing The Draft: Saints Show Interest In OT James Carpenter
By Keith Null
Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter has met with one quarter of the NFL’s teams, one of those meeting was with the New Orleans Saints according to a report on NFP.
Carpenter started 27 games with Alabama from 2009 – 2010 after transferring from small Coffeyville Community College.
Last season Carpenter garnered a first-team All-SEC selection by the league coaches and a second team pick by the associated press.
He was invited to the Combine where he ran a 5.28 forty-yard dash and bench pressed 220 pounds twenty-three times. He did not participate in the vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
"Carpenter has a chance to end up as a starter and certainly has the ability to provide valuable depth as a backup. Looks the part of an NFL left tackle with his great size and frame. At this stage, Carpenter grades out as a good pass blocker but just adequate in the running game. His game could benefit from some improved awareness in blitz pickup. Would become more valuable as a run blocker with increased strength and power. Carpenter should hear his name called during the middle rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft — Sourced from NFL.com"
The Saints have an abundance of needs on both sides of the ball as they try and contend with 27 free agents amidst the ongoing labor battle.
New Orleans submitted tender offers to the more important players on the roster including wide receiver Lance Moore, strong safety Roman Harper and left tackle Jermon Bushrod.
However none of the tender offers were signed in light of the expiration of the current CBA and uncetainty surrounding the parameters of a new CBA.
Lingering questions as to the classification of restricted and unrestricted free agents still remain, making players skittish when agreeing to a new contract.
Offensive lineman is not a need that initially jumps out as glaring when breaking down the Saints roster, after all they won the Super Bowl in 2009 with the same line that is in place today.
But on closer inspection they could indeed use the help as they are extremely thin at tackle, center could be upgraded and right tackle Jon Stinchcomb’s play declined dramatically in 2010.
Starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod has struggled at times with pass protection, is over thirty and is scheduled to become a free agent. His backup is second year pro Charles Brown, a talented yet still raw prospect.
It’s yet to be seen if Brown is ready to jump into a staring role this soon, but the team is high on him, so it’s likely he will get the chance to push Bushrod in training camp when the NFL’s lockout is lifted.
Carpenter is ranked as the seventh best offensive tackle in the draft and carries a second round grade. He needs some work in both pass protection as well as run blocking, but is versatile enough to play right tackle as well.
The Saints could draft him and immediately address not only the depth at left tackle but right tackle to boot. He would allow them more flexibility in contract talks with Bushrod and maybe push Stinchcomb to improve his play.