NFL Draft: Saints pick Notre Dame TE Alizé Mack, Idaho LB Kaden Elliss in 7th round

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Alizé Mack

The New Orleans Saints selected Notre Dame tight end Alizé Mack and Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Mack was taken No. 231 overall while Elliss went at No. 244.

A 6-foot-5, 247-pound senior this past season, Mack was on the Mackey Award Watch List the past three seasons. He was the highest rated tight end in the nation coming out of high school in his senior year, according to ESPN.

In 2018, Mack had 34 catches for 349 yards and three touchdowns. His strengths include pass blocking and ability to make plays a a receiver even when split out wide. He did have academic issues early in his college career and was suspended from Notre Dame’s bowl game two years ago against LSU for team violations.

Elliss is the son of former NFL first round pick Luther Elliss, who played defensive tackle for 10 seasons. The younger Elliss earned accolades as both a FBS and FCS player as Idaho transitioned down to Division II during his playing career there:

Ellis was an honorable mention All-Sun Belt pick in 2016 after intercepting five passes to lead all FBS linebackers (also 65 tackles, eight for loss). Sun Belt coaches named him second-team all-conference in 2017 (80 tackles, 16 for loss, six sacks, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles) and showed off his athleticism by lining up at wide receiver and tight end (7-156-22.3, two TD). Ellis was a first-team pick in 2018, leading his team with 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks (60 tackles, three pass break-ups). He played some offense, as well (3-20-6.7 receiving).

The 2018 first-team All-Big Sky performer shined on his pro day after not being invited to the NFL Combine. His three-cone drill and long shuttle times would have been first or second among all linebackers that were invited to the Combine.

The Saints made five total picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.

New Orleans Saints TE Alizé Mack
2019 NFL Draft Media Availability
Saturday, April 27, 2019

Are you excited?
“Oh man, I can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true. You talk about a team that throughout this process just talking with Coach (Dan) Campbell, (I can’t wait) to get up there to the facility and meeting the coaching staff. It felt like home as soon as I came down there (on a pre-draft visit). I am going to take full responsibility and full advantage of this opportunity and I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I am so happy. I am so thankful. I just want to thank the Saints organization, Coach Payton, and the rest of the organization for taking a chance on me. They definitely will not regret it. A hundred percent.”

You took a visit here, what were your impressions?
“I loved it. It felt like home honestly. Just walking around the facility and being around the coaches. Being able to watch film with Coach (Dan) Campbell and just to talk with Coach (Sean) Payton. I loved it. Just being able to see the city. It just felt like home. It is an entirely different offense and what they bring to the table and just Drew Brees, one of the greatest quarterbacks all the time. One of the greatest quarterbacks in the league, if not the best. What an honor to be able to have an opportunity to be on the same team as him along with the rest of the weapons they have got. I am just at a loss of words right now.”

You said Dan Campbell came to work you out in South Bend too?
“No, he did not.”

Did they reach out to you before the pick to let you know that they might be taking you?
“Yes, they did.”

What did they say?
“I got a call right before. I’ll tell you what, it was something I definitely didn’t see coming. I just broke down in tears. Just be able to see my mom cry and to be able to see just how proud my family is. This is something you dream about since you were a little kid. Just to be able to have a chance to step foot in the National Football League, it’s an honor man.”

First things first, how do we pronounce your name?
“Alizé.” (pronounced al-Lih-zaye)

Have you been getting jokes about that since you’ve been a kid?
“I do have one of the most interesting names.”

What do you think you can add to the offense here?
“A weapon. You’re going to get a guy who can do it all. A guy who can line up in line, but a guy who can line up on the outside and be a mismatch problem vertically down the field. A guy who can be a huge red zone threat. More so than that, you’re going to get a dude who will come to work every single day. Regardless of what’s going on, I’m going to come in every single day ready to go and ready to compete, no doubt.”

How much have you kept up with the tight end situation with the Saints?
“Quite a bit. I know that you guys just got (Jared) Cook from the Raiders. He’s a big-time baller, (and) a vet. A dude that I definitely look forward to talking to, getting to know, and being able to pick his brain. Just to be able to learn behind him, along with the rest of the guys out there on that offense. To learn how I can come in and make an immediate impact to be able to help the team in any way, shape, or form.”

What did you enjoy about your interaction with (Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends Coach) Dan Campbell?
“Genuine, real. I had the chance to sit down and have a meeting with him at the Combine, (it was) a formal meeting. I loved him. I got a chance to get up on the board with him and talk some football to see how well I retain information and see how well I understand the game and scheme, and what’s going on. I love what he presented to me in terms of how I’ll be used on offense. Just understanding how much of a guru Coach Payton is, it’s an honor, there is no better coach to be able to play underneath.”
Where are you right now?
“I am in Las Vegas at home.”

How many people do you have at the party?
“It’s just my mom, dad, sister, and grandmother.”

Going into this, did you think you would be drafted earlier or did you think you might have to wait?
“No, I did. I definitely thought I’d be drafted. I didn’t think that it would get down to this point, but at the end of the day, I am just thankful for this opportunity. It’s not about where I go, it’s about what I do when I get there. You best believe I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

How tough was it having to wait so long?
“It was tough. It was very tough. It’s definitely one of the most stressful times of your life. But more than anything you just have to keep faith. Just to be able to be a part of this organization, I’m at a loss for words right now, it still hasn’t even hit me yet. It hasn’t even hit me.”

New Orleans Saints LB Kaden Elliss
2019 NFL Draft Media Availability
Saturday, April 27, 2019

What was it like getting the call and figuring out that you’re going in New Orleans to join the Saints?
“Pretty great. (I was) sitting here all day waiting and when I get to talk to the GM (Mickey Loomis) and whatnot it was pretty special. It was an exciting time.”

You’re obviously somebody who’s familiar with the NFL with your Dad being a former player. What does it mean to kind of keep this going and your family and be the second player drafted and your family?
“It’s exciting. He’s always been there for me. He’s been pushing me my whole life and encouraging me. It’s pretty fun to kind of keep it going. I’ve got some brothers coming down the line who are going to be pretty great players too. It’s just an exciting thing for us and I’m just excited that God has given me this opportunity.”

What was it like playing for your dad with him being an assistant at Idaho?
“It was great. He coaches the defensive line and I did a lot of pass rush last year and played some defensive end so I got to work with him quite a bit. Even when I wasn’t and I was playing linebacker, he was there coaching me up with that too. Being with him is special, he’s the most passionate person I’ve ever been around, the most competitive. Just being with him and having his energy there with me was really special.”

What kind of advice did he just give you about this whole process?
“He told me to just trust God, especially as those picks were going by and the rounds were going by. Through the whole thing it’s been that. (his message was) to keep working to, to know that no matter where you get selected, you still have to go in and earn it. Again, the most important thing’s just to trust the Lord with what he has planned. That’s kind of the advice he’s given.”

You sound like you anticipated being picked a little bit earlier today. What were you kind of expecting going into today?
“I wouldn’t say necessarily that. I don’t know. You don’t really know where you’re going to get picked. It’s kind of a domino effect. Just seeing each pick go by and finally getting that call, it was special. My wife and I started freaking out. My heart started racing. It is just a special time.”

Have they told you what position they envision you playing? Playing linebacker or edge rusher?
“They told me they want me to be able to play a couple of positions. They said they believe I’m smart enough to play a few so they want me to know a few, to come in and learn, and be a great special teams player. Whatever opportunities they give me, I’m going to go in and capitalize on it. I’m excited to make a mark down there.”

Is one or two of those a primary position for you?
“Honestly, I will leave that all up to the coaches. I don’t know. It’s whatever they envision me, and however they envision me. I’m going to go out there and play my hardest, and make plays. I’m excited to see where they want to use me, how they want to use me, and how I can help this team.”

Did you play special teams at Idaho?
“Yes sir, I did. Freshman year I started on all four, and the next three years it was punt and punt return depending on the game plan.”

What do you feel are your best strengths?
“I love to pass rush, I think it’s the greatest thing in football. It’s a beautiful thing and I work very hard at it. I love it. I love the coverage game, covering guys, and getting to play QB eyes. I’m excited to get to the NFL so I can start working with those coaches, (Defensive Assistant) Coach (Michael) Hodges, (Linebackers) Coach (Mike) Nolan, and everybody else so I can find some more strengths, work on my weaknesses, and just become the best player I can be.”

Have you watched the Saints much, and do you know much about the team?
“Yeah, I know a decent amount. We had practice on Sundays, so they were normally spent watching film and getting ready for that first practice of the week. But I watched them decently. I have always been a Drew Brees fan and have cheered for them in the Super Bowl. It’s a pretty cool spot, and I got to come down and visit. It was really special getting to see that locker room, to see those halls, and see all of the players that have been through there. I’m psyched. New Orleans is a really special place.”

Was there anything that specifically stood out about your visit?
“Getting to meet those coaches down there was pretty special. Getting to see a team that’s at the top of their game. Last year they probably should’ve been in the Super Bowl. Just getting to see and be around that atmosphere was really special. It is a winning culture. That was really cool and something that did stick out to me — the culture of the team. Obviously, I was not around all of the players, but from the staff, the coaches, scouts, everybody who interacted with me, you could tell the culture’s to win. That was something that was special to me.”

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