Saints linked to a 2024 draft linebacker at Ohio State pro day

Here’s an interesting draft prospect. The New Orleans Saints had dinner with Ohio State linebacker Steele Chambers before his pro day workout on Wednesday, per Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline. New Orleans signed free agent linebacker Willie Gay to push Pete Werner for snaps but they could use more help with multiple players hitting free agency.

So what’s the story here? Chambers doesn’t fit the athletic thresholds the Saints have maintained at the position. He weighed in at 6-foot-flat and just 226 pounds with 30.5-inch arms at the NFL Scouting Combine, posting pedestrian numbers in the jumps and agility drills, without timing the 40-yard dash until his pro day (where he was clocked in the 4.6 to 4.65 range by scouts in attendance, per 11 Warriors’ Dan Hope). As fate would have it, Buckeyes linebackers coach James Laurinaitis, who briefly played for the Saints, conducted drills for Chambers at the school’s pro day.

While those numbers aren’t strong enough to get him drafted by the Saints early on, they shouldn’t eliminate him altogether. Chambers is projected to be picked in the the last few rounds of the 2024 NFL draft, and that’s generally where teams like New Orleans start to make exceptions for players they like who don’t hit their athletic targets in these drills.

And there’s a lot to like with Chambers. He’s only played linebacker for three years after spending his first two seasons in Columbus at running back, but he’s already totaled more than 1,700 career snaps across 39 games on defense. He has some ball skills with four career interceptions.

Importantly for the Saints, Chambers has played plenty of snaps on special teams. He’s ran with the return and coverage squads on both punts and kickoffs as well as the field goal block team. Zack Baun was a key player on special teams for New Orleans and they need to replace him, among others, in that capacity. Nephi Sewell won’t be ready for training camp after suffering a torn ACL in December, and other special teamers like Andrew Dowell, Ty Summers, and Ryan Connelly are all free agents. Maybe Chambers can win a role in the kicking game before developing into a quality backup. We’ll see where he ends up in April’s draft.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire