The New Orleans Saints wrapped up their 2014 NFL Draft class by selecting Kansas State Tackle Tavon Rooks with their 6th round (202nd overall) pick. The selection of Rooks adds another body to the team's stable of offensive linemen. A need for depth at the tackle spot exists after unrestricted free agent Charles Brown signed with the New York Giants. Brown started over half of the team's games in 2013 before being benched late in the season.
Rooks is a former Junior College standout who transferred to K-State following two seasons at Navarro JC in Corsicana, Tx. He went on to earn a starting spot on the Wildcats' offensive line, and garnered honorable mention All-Big 12 awards following both of his seasons in Manhattan. The 6-5 280 Rooks spent most of his time at Right Tackle for Bill Snyder's 'Cats, helping pave the way for an offense that was often dependent on its power rushing attack.
Rooks won't be counted on to play significant snaps early, and could still have to battle his way onto the roster with undrafted prospects or other signings throughout the summer. He could develop behind Zach Strief, who the Saints re-signed in free agency, and could also provide emergency cover for Terron Armstead at Left Tackle, should he be able to add to his frame over the next three months. The Saints could also look to try him inside at Guard.
New Orleans still has a need to address at Center. They like the potential of Tim Lelito, and have brought in former starter Jonathan Goodwin for a visit. It seems likely that the team will now consider re-signing Goodwin, who helped them win Super Bowl XLIV, on a short-term deal to compete with Lelito for the starting spot during camp.
Most expected New Orleans to address their offensive line depth at some point, and Tavon Rooks is certainly a depth pick. He could prove to be a valuable late round selection, or could at worst land on the team's practice squad should he find himself on the outside looking in come final cuts.
The Saints will now turn their attention to assembling a group of undrafted free agents. The team has found good value in undrafted talent over the years, with Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson, Junior Galette and Tim Lelito some recent examples. GM Mickey Loomis, Director of College Scouting Rick Reiprish, Director of Player Personnel Ryan Pace and Head Coach Sean Payton will hope to bring in their next diamond, or diamonds in the rough with this year's crop of available undrafted talent.
The 2014 NFL Draft may have reached its conclusion, but the fun hasn't stopped as New Orleans Saints fans now wait to see how this undrafted free agent class shapes up in the coming hours.