METAIRIE, La. — The Saints followed their tried-and-true draft day philosophy of finding one player out of the blue.
And if history is any indication, Rufus Johnson of Tarleton State could be the next great player to make a name for himself.
He certainly has the confidence.
“…I’m just an aggressive player,” Johnson said Saturday. “I’m a wonderful pass rusher. My pass-rushing skills are top-notch.”
Johnson, 6-foot-5, led Tarleton State with 10 sacks this past season and 17 ½-tackles for a loss playing at the defensive end in their 4-3 defense. He earned the Lone Star Conference defensive player of the year for the effort.
And Tarleton State now has two former players on the Saints roster, the other being receiver Saalim Hakim. While the Stephenville, Texas college might be well-known, neither were Hofstra (Marques Colston), Towson State (Jermon Bushrod) or Bloomsburg (Jahri Evans).
The Saints pulled the trigger on the pick and will use him primarily as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. He said Saturday he ran a 4.69 second 40-yard dash during his pro day and said he weighs about 270 pounds.
Area scouts Mike Baugh and Josh Lucas found Johnson. He began to gain steam with his performance in the Texas vs. Nation college all-star game.
That all culminated in going in the sixth round.
“My dad just gave me the smile that he’s been giving me since I was six years old, ever since I was playing Pop Warner,” Johnson said. “He gave me that smile and told me ‘Good job.’ He embraced me with a hug, kissed me on my forehead, and told me that now it’s time to go to work.”