METAIRIE, La. ― Al Woods stood outside his parent’s house in Elton, La., Saturday morning and paced with his father, going over which NFL scenarios would play out for the former LSU defensive tackle.
One would guess that what developed next was more than the 22-year-old could even imagine.
New Orleans moved up seven spots in the fourth round to pick Woods, a 6-foot-4, 309-pound nose tackle. The Saints traded picks 130 and 201 to Arizona for No. 123, moving specifically to take Woods.
“Me and my dad was talking, just kind of thinking where I could go or what could happen and the next thing I know, my phone rang and the Saints were calling,” Woods said. “It worked out beautifully. It worked out perfect.”
“We just felt like there were going to be too many opportunities between us and that pick for him to get selected,” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said. “We’re excited to have him and exited to have another LSU player on our team. We like the makeup of Al and what he has done at LSU.”
LSU fans likely will see Woods as a player who didn’t pan out as they thought he would. The former Parade All-American started only one season and finished with 73 tackles and only 3½ career sacks.
Loomis, however, quelled any thoughts that Woods’ career would have kept anyone, especially the Saints, from taking the LSU player.
“I wouldn’t be critical of his play at LSU at all,” Loomis said. “I think he was a good player for them and a good leader for them.”
It was largely assumed that the Saints would take a defensive tackle in this year’s draft after the team was gashed time-and-again late in the 2009 season up the middle. The Saints currently have Sedrick Ellis, Anthony Hargrove, Remi Ayodele and DeMario Pressley on the roster as players who contributed in 2009.
Woods was rated as a third-round pick by NFL Draft Scout.
As a high school player, Woods was one of the country’s top rated recruits and a top 100 player in the country. He was a Parade All-America as well as a USA Today and Reebok All-American.
He played as a freshman at LSU, including in the Sugar Bowl. A year later, the new Saints defensive lineman played in 12 of 14 games and his three fumble recoveries tied for best in the SEC.
At the combine, Woods ran a 5.15 40-yard dash and had a 37-inch vertical.
“He’s a hard-working kid,” Loomis said. “He has size. He has been a good player for LSU and one of the leaders of their team. We like all that about him and obviously that makes him, the intangibles fit in what we’re looking for in a player.”
For Woods, this is all a dream-come-true – he gets the chance to play for the team he grew up cheering for.
“For me to actually just move right down the street to New Orleans and to play for a great organization, I mean, it is a one-in-a-million shot,” Woods said. “Just to stay in the great state of Louisiana and to play for all these great people down here and enjoy everything and embrace it, it’s unbelievable. It couldn’t happen a better way.”