NFL draft Saints Colts looking to future with QB picks

NFL draft: Saints, Colts looking to future with QB picks

Out go the retirees, and in come the rookies.

New Orleans and Indianapolis, who both bid farewell to retiring legendary quarterbacks this offseason, each selected quarterbacks on the third day of the NFL draft, even though they already were fairly stocked at the position.

The Saints said goodbye to Drew Brees, and former Chargers star Philip Rivers called it a career after one final season with the Colts.

The Saints drafted Notre Dame’s Ian Book in the fourth round, and Indianapolis took Sam Ehlinger of Texas in the sixth. It would be a surprise if either were more than the third quarterback this season. Still, those aren’t throwaway picks but likely developmental projects.

Book said he’s ready to be coached by Sean Payton and join quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.

“It’s coach Payton and the offense there and obviously I think it’s huge that Drew Brees was there for as long as he was doing what he was doing,“ said Book, the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history.

“We’re different players but we’re similar in stature, and he proved to everybody down there and in the world that he could do it, and I want to do the same thing, and I feel like I fit in that system well. Those are big shoes to fill. There’s no doubt about it. But that’s exciting, and exciting challenge for me.”

Slated to start for Indianapolis is Carson Wentz, the former No. 2 pick acquired from Philadelphia. The Colts added Ehlinger to a quarterback room that already includes Jacob Eason and Jalen Morton.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger passes under pressure from Texas Tech defensive lineman Eli Howard in September.

(Mark Rogers / Associated Press)

As with Hill in New Orleans, Ehlinger has the ability to tuck the ball and run. In his four-year college career, he rushed for 1,907 yards and 33 touchdowns. Asked if he might be a situational quarterback for the Colts, someone who comes in when they need him to gain yards with his legs, he said he hasn’t spoken to the club about that specifically.

“It’s been understood that I’m here to play quarterback, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win,” he said.

Get (defensive) back

Quarterbacks dominated the top of the NFL draft, with five going in the first 15 picks, but defensive backs were like the impulse buy at the cash register, with teams suddenly grabbing them one after the other.

At one point during the fifth round, five consecutive defensive backs were selected: three safeties followed by two cornerbacks.

Snapped up were the University of Cincinnati’s Darrick Forrest (Washington), Indiana’s Jamar Johnson (Denver), Florida’s Shawn Davis (Indianapolis), Washington’s Keith Taylor (Carolina) and Illinois’ Nate Hobbs (Las Vegas).

In a pass-happy league, it only makes sense to stock up on players who can intercept those throws, or at least knock them down.

Trojans go fourth

Saturday began with Jacksonville selecting USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele with the opening pick of the fourth round.

That’s precisely when USC quarterback Matt Barkley was chosen by Philadelphia eight years earlier, the first pick of the fourth round.

Sherman clone?

Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright, a third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, already has Texas-sized expectations.

“I kind of look at myself as a more athletic and agile Richard Sherman,” said the 6-foot-4 Wright, comparing himself to the five-time All-Pro cornerback who is currently a free agent but starred for both Seattle and San Francisco.

For his part, Sherman took it in stride. He tweeted Wright’s comments along with a meme of Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson making a face of startled disbelief.

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward tweeted: “BIG SHOES TO FILL”

Responded Sherman: “And I hope he over grows them.”

Bucs want Gabbert

Just because they drafted Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, it doesn’t mean Tampa Bay is getting rid of Blaine Gabbert. The Buccaneers recently re-signed Ryan Griffin to be somewhere on the depth chart below Tom Brady, and coach Bruce Arians told reporters that the club hopes to re-sign Gabbert soon.

Said Arians: “Blaine has proven what he has done for us.”

Rodgers packing?

An ominous cloud over this draft was the uncertain status of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning most valuable player, who does not want to play for the Packers next season. The Packers have been adamant that they’re not trading him.

In a letter posted Saturday on the Packers’ website, team chief executive Mark Murphy acknowledged the situation and said it’s “an issue that we have been working on for several months.”

Murphy said he, general manager Brian Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur have flown out to meet with Rodgers on multiple occasions.

“We are very much aware of Aaron’s concerns and have been working with him [and his agent Dave Dunn] to resolve them,” Murphy wrote. “We remain committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond. He is not only a tremendously talented player, but has developed into a true leader for us.

“The relationship that Aaron has forged with Matt and the other offensive coaches has propelled us to the brink of the Super Bowl in two straight years. We look forward to competing for another Super Bowl championship with Aaron as our leader.”

Mr. Irrelevant

University of Houston linebacker Grant Stuard was the final pick of the draft, the 259th selection by Tampa Bay, meaning he gets the title of “Mr. Irrelevant.” He’ll be honored in Huntington Beach and receive the tongue-in-cheek “Lowsman Trophy” — like the Heisman, only the statue is fumbling — in keeping with a fun tradition that’s been around since 1976.




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