METAIRIE, La. (AP) — The New Orleans Saints used their top draft choice on a player whose blocking ability might help extend the career of 36-year-old Drew Brees, selecting Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat at 13th overall Thursday night.
New Orleans then used its second of two first-round picks to take Clemson inside linebacker Stephone Anthony, who’ll join a Saints defense that could use some help after ranking second-to-last in the NFL with 384 yards allowed last season.
Payton said the 6-foot-7, 316-pound Peat will work strictly as an offensive tackle, where the Saints currently have two incumbent starters, two-year veteran Terron Armstead on the left side and nine-year veteran Zach Strief on the right side.
While Payton said he didn’t want to label Peat as a potential starter next season, he added, “We feel like he certainly has a ceiling that’s extremely high. … I love the way this guy plays. I absolutely love it.”
Payton also stressed that offensive tackle is a hard position to fill in free agency, so the Saints saw it was a wise move to draft a top-tier prospect at that spot when they had the chance.
He said offensive tackle “is certainly a position we’d call a need position — maybe not a must, but a need.”
Payton said the Saints also saw inside linebacker as a position they needed to address in the draft, and liked Anthony’s combination of physical and leadership ability enough to take him with 31st pick they acquired, along with center Max Unger, in a trade that sent start tight end Jimmy Graham to Seattle.
“We love the makeup. He’s sharp. He’s the leader of their defense,” Payton said of Anthony, who was a co-captain and led Clemson with 90 tackles last season, including 10
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