Saints send DL coach to Miami, RB’s coach to North Carolina pro day

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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The pro day circuit for 2021 NFL draft prospects is in full swing, with coaches and scouts from around the country visiting college campuses to get a close look at this year’s upcoming rookie class. That’s true of the New Orleans Saints, too; college scouting director Jeff Ireland was recently seen at Notre Dame, while head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis were in Alabama.

But it’s not just the big names living on the road this time of year. Position coaches and regional scouts are out and about, too. CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reported that Saints running backs coach Joel Thomas was in North Carolina, where prospects Javonte Williams and Michael Carter tore up the turf. Williams measured respectable explosion and agility times, though his long speed in the 40 yard dash was unremarkable. Carter didn’t move the needle until he hit the agility drills, where he really shined. Either of them could be in play in the second or third rounds.

Meanwhile, the Athletic’s Manny Navarro reported that New Orleans defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen was sent to Miami’s pro day to survey a crowded field including Jaelan Phillips, Gregory Rousseau, Quincy Roche, and 2019 prospect Chigozie Nnoruka (who wasn’t drafted after his pro day was canceled in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Phillips was maybe the best Hurricanes prospect for Nielsen to scout, measuring as one of the best athletes at the position since 1987. Phillips started his college career at UCLA, where he was injured in a car crash and later suffered a concussion, temporarily hanging up his cleats before transferring cross-country to Miami. He bagged 9 sacks, 4 hits, and 29 hurries (plus 3 pass deflections) on just 286 pass-rush snaps per Pro Football Focus last year. He’s a first-round prospect if his medicals check out.

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