METAIRIE, La. — Sean Payton may not be in the Saints’ draft war room, but his fingerprints are all over New Orleans’ fourth-round pick.
The Saints selected Nick Toon, a 6-foot-1, 213-pound receiver out of Wisconsin, the kind of big-bodied, athletic wideouts Payton loves to utilize in his offense.
“He's big like we like to have in our systems,” interim head coach Joe Vitt said. “He's more of a Marques Colston type player. He's 6-foot-1. This is a guy that Sean met at combine extensively because Sean likes big receivers. So it worked out perfect."
That’s not the first time, either, that Toon said he has been compared to Colston. Toon said his offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, Paul Chryst, did the same thing this past offseason while breaking down film.
It’s Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, however, whom Toon looks up to the most.
“One of the things I really pride about in my game is catching the ball, having good hands and being consistent in catching the ball,” Toon said. “He’s one of the best, if not the best, in the league at catching the ball and being consistent doing that.”
The question now arises about what this selection means for receiver Adrian Arrington, who is entering his fifth season with the Saints.
Vitt aid the pick was less about Arrington and more about their draft board, which he said had Toon as the best player available.
"He's a real smart guy so he's going to be able to play more than one position for us,” Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said. “We can put him inside, we can put him outside. As a player he has those abilities as well as being able to learn new positions."
In four seasons at Wisconsin, Toon caught 171 passes for 2,447 yards and 18 touchdowns. This past season, he finished with 64 catches for 926 yards and 10 touchdowns.
His career totals surpassed those of his father, Al, a former Wisconsin standout who had a seven-year NFL career.
“My dad was a great football player and a great resource of mine growing up,” Toon said. “He has been a great sounding board for me throughout my career, my entire life. (He’s) a great blueprint as far as a football player (and) just a good person and a good leader.”
But the younger Toon said he has never been worried about matching what his father did, saying that no matter where he ended up, that pressure would follow him.
No matter where he ended up, Toon’s background is something Vitt said is a positive.
“I just don't think an NFL locker room is foreign to them,” Vitt said when asked about players with fathers who played in the NFL. “They've gone to work with their dads and come to Saturday practices and it just seems like it's not too big for them.”