METAIRIE, La. ― The Saints supposedly needed a defensive tackle or an outside linebacker.
They left the Saints facility late Thursday night with another cornerback instead.
New Orleans took Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson with the 32nd and final pick of the NFL Draft’s first-round, a move that still leaves open a need in the interior of the defense.
“When you get to the latter part of the draft, you’ve got a circle and gradually you get down to where you have your two or three selections and there’s two or three teams,” Head Coach Sean Payton said. “He was a guy that, when Detroit selected, they took the running back and at that point, we felt pretty confident he might be available.
“Indianapolis took Hughes the defensive end and we were excited about the selection.”
Robinson, at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, gives defensive coordinator Gregg Williams one more defensive back for his 4-3 system that helped the Saints turn things around on defense in 2009. Williams likes to go with man-to-man coverage in the back end as he blitzes his front six or seven and Robinson said that’s something that he fits into.
“I know they play a lot of man to man defense and that’s something I’m used to doing when I was at Florida State,” Robinson said. “That’s a great thing for me.”
The 23-year-old was so shocked by his selection that on his teleconference with New Orleans media, he was literally speechless as he sat on a phone call from his home in Miami, saying several times that he was “excited right now. I’m at a loss for words.”
Robinson was part of the academic scandal that rocked Florida State in 2007 and he was suspended for the ’07 Music City Bowl as well as the first three games of 2008.
In 45 games for the Seminoles, Robinson started 25 games at right corner, finishing with 117 tackles. He deflected 21 passes and intercepted seven others. In 2007, he finished with six interceptions, including a stretch of five games in a row with a pickoff, which set a school record.
As a senior, Robinson was a second-team All-ACC selection and earned the team's most valuable player. He also returned 11 kickoffs for an average of 28 yards per return. Robinson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and has a 39-inch verticle.
Still, his selection came as a bit of a surprise.
Most analysts had the Saints taking either a defensive tackle or linebacker, both needs that Saints still have. New Orleans lost Scott Fujita to Cleveland in free agency and are rolling with two career journeyman in Kendrick Clancy and Remi Ayodele.
Payton hinted that the Saints’ issues when starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter went down with injuries this past season played a part in the selection, even if it’s small.
“We went through some injuries and understand and appreciate all of us the importance of having solid play out there,” Payton said. “When we were healthy, you saw the difference defensively. It’s a position that’s hard to find in free agency. I know that. I think that’s where it started.”
The Saints now gamble that the players they need will last throughout the entirety of the second round and third round – New Orleans selects with the final pick in both the second and third round.
Both rounds go Friday night beginning at 5 p.m. with the picks in the second round lasting seven minutes and five minutes for the third round.