Several at Senior Bowl have local ties, may interest Saints

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Tanner Lee

The college football all-star circuit is a key part of the draft process. The Senior Bowl will take place this weekend.

The New Orleans Saints, like every other NFL team, are hoping to unearth a few gems in the ’18 NFL Draft. We’ll look at some participants in Mobile this week including several with the hometown team in mind.

Danny Johnson, a 5-foot-10, 194 pound cornerback out of Southern, hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Jaguar and Hall of Fame defensive back Aeneas Williams as well as longtime cornerback Maurice Hurst in the NFL. Johnson possesses explosive speed (4.4 forty) and intelligence with a 4.0 GPA. The East Feliciana High product looks to be a potential second day pick (second or third round). He recorded an eye catching seven interceptions this past season.

Former Jesuit High and Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee (6-4, 220) left Nebraska after one year as the starter to enter this year’s draft. He was added to Senior Bowl roster due to injury to Mason Rudolph. All eyes will be focused on Lee, a true pocket passer with a pro arm, ability to move in the pocket and willingness to stand strong under duress. This week’s practice could determine where Lee might fall on day three of the draft (rounds 4-7).

The Saints are one team who could add a tight end. UMass standout Adam Breneman (6-5, 255, 4.6) could fit the bill. He was a 5 star recruit in 2013 before selecting Penn State over a host of offers. After spending his first three seasons in Happy Valley, Breneman left the game altogther due to frustration and concerns over a knee injury. He even spent time as a campaign manager for a state politician in Pennsylvania.

After coming back to the game with the Minutemen, Breneman tallied 149 catches for 1,758 yards and 15 touchdowns the past two season. He is working on his Master’s Degree at UMass.

Breneman has a sculptured body and impressive catching radius. He has drawn comparisons to Dallas Cowboys legend Jason Witten. He should hear his name called in the early half of day three.

Joe Noteboom (6-5, 322) was an All Academic selection at TCU and was a starter for 40 games. As a left tackle, he only allowed two sacks in ’17. Considering how much the Horned Frogs air it out, Noteboom has been tested plenty. He has good feet and plays with balance. His effort will be under the microscope this week, and I suspect the Saints staff will be monitoring him as potential fifth or sixth rounder.

Two defensive tackles who lack in height could make it in the big time. New Orleans could use their versatility for depth.

Kaylon “Poona” Ford (5-11, 305) was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year this season. He has 30 starts in his 46 game appearances for the Texas Longhorns. Able to play nose tackle or 3 tech, Ford played in East-West Shrine game last week.

Ford’s nickname came from his grandmother who called him “Pooh Bear.” Scouts have compared him to former Longhorns DT Casey Hampton, a solid pro performer who was similar in size but played in five Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls with Pittsburgh. ford could fall into sixth round.

South Florida’s Deadrin Senat (6-0, 311) is another undersized prospect. He’s not short on skills. For his career, Senat had 177 tackles, 23.5 TFL and seven sacks for the Bulls. He shows dominant skills and strength (squats 675 pounds).

Before deciding on USF, Senat fielded offers from Nebraska, Florida State, Miami and South Carolina. He has overcome personal tragedy throughout his life. He lost his mom (at age 45) to complications from a spider bite when he was a freshman in High school. His dad died in 2015.

Senat plays with a chip on his shoulder. He draws comparisons to former Bears and Vikings DT Will Sutton.

ANOTHER PATH
There was a notable name to local fans amomg the underclassmen declaring for NFL draft, ex-LSU defensive tackle Travonte Valentine.

Watching Valentine negotiate throughout his college career evoked memories of another Tiger who squandered opportunities, running back Cecil Collins. Now I’m not suggesting that Valentine’s problems compare to the serious legal issues of Collins, but the former was issued numerous opportunities to shine and develop his talent on the college level only to miss out due to his own decisions.

Valentine (6-3, 345), the third rated player at his position nationally in the 2014 recruiting class, was booted of the LSU football team twice for academic and behavioral issues. Les Miles sent Valentine packing the firs time, and Ed Orgeron admitted that they were wasting their time with him after the second dismissal.

Besides his time at LSU, he was enrolled at Arizona Western Junior College before returning to Baton Rouge and then ended up at Mississippi Gulf Coast JUCO this past season.

Hopefully it won’t take as long as it took Collins, who was released from prison in his mid-30’s after a career lost, for Valentine to arrange his priorities and maximize his football gifts.

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Rene Nadeau

Rene Nadeau

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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