Just weeks after Drew Brees walked off the stage after a Hall of Fame career in New Orleans, the Saints found a quarterback Saturday who closely resembles the undersized Brees in at least one respect. Like Brees, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book is short by NFL standards — only 6-feet tall, the same size as Brees, who retired on March 14 after a 20-year career.
"That’s just been the story my whole entire life," Book, who was selected in the fourth round by Saints coach Sean Payton, told reporters Saturday. "I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. You know I’m not getting any taller. And Drew Brees has been able to do it. There’s many other quarterbacks you can go down the list that have been able to do it."
Book was 30-5 as a starter for the Fighting Irish, winning more games than anyone else in the history of the iconic football program. The Saints are expected to go with Taysom Hill as their starter next season, but former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston has a chance to win the job after spending the 2020 season as one of Brees’ backups.
Book threw for a combined 5,864 over his final two seasons at Notre Dame, throwing for 49 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in that span.
"[Brees] proved to everybody down there and in the world that he could do it," Book said. "I want to do the same thing, and I just feel like I fit in that system well. Those are big shoes to fill, there’s no doubt about it. But that’s an exciting challenge for me."
Florida cornerback Marco Wilson was another fourth-round pick Saturday, as the Cardinals traded up to get him despite Wilson’s moment of infamy during a December game against LSU last season. After tackling Kole Taylor of LSU on third down, Taylor’s shoe came off in Wilson’s hand, and he threw it in celebration. Wilson was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct to keep the LSU drive alive and led to the Tigers kicking the game-winning field goal with 23 seconds left in regulation.
Wilson said he learned a valuable lesson, albeit the hard way.
"You just got to be in control of your emotions at all times and make sure you’re doing the right things," he told reporters. "Also learned that silly mistakes like that can affect not only you, but a lot of people around you, so you just got to stay away from doing things like that."
While most kickers are drafted either in the lowest rounds or not even drafted at all, the Bengals invested a fifth-round pick in Evan McPherson of Florida. Last year, he made 17 of 22 field goals and missed just one extra point kick in 150 attempts in his three seasons. He converted 85% of his field goal chances.
Offensive lineman Trey Smith of Tennessee fell more than expected, going to Kansas City with the final pick of the sixth round.
And the title of this year’s "Mr. Irrelevant" — the draft’s final pick — goes to Houston linebacker Grant Stuard, who was taken by the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers on the 259th and last pick. "Mr. Irrelevant" was started in 1976, although the draft has gotten considerably shorter since then. Dayton wide receiver Kelvin Kirk was the 487th and final pick of that draft, which included 17 rounds.