METAIRIE, La. – To get a scouting report on the New Orleans Saints’ newest addition – Canadian Football League cornerback Delvin Breaux – I turned to Calgary Stampeders assistant general manager John Murphy. Murphy is a longtime football scout who is based out of Metairie and keeps close tabs on the Saints.
Murphy said the first thing that stands out with Breaux (6 foot 1, 196 pounds) is that he’s a “big, physical kid,” which more and more NFL teams have started to look for in their cornerbacks.
“He’s tall, long arms, was willing to play physical in our league,” Murphy said of Breaux, a New Orleans native who made a remarkable comeback after breaking three vertebrae in his back while playing for McDonogh 35 Senior High School in 2006.
Breaux, 25, never played college football but played briefly with the New Orleans Voodoo in the Arena Football League before spending the past two years with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Breaux was an all-star who was widely regarded among the best players in the league, and he had more than a dozen teams schedule workouts this offseason before the Saints persuaded him to sign during his visit last Friday. Murphy said he heard the Saints were very aggressive in making sure they landed Breaux before he went on any remaining workouts.
“He’s played out on an island rather than inside against motion, so you would think that’s where they’ll use him, as an outside corner, trying to take advantage of those skills,” said Murphy – pointing out that the entire NFL and the NFC South, in particular, have been trending toward big, physical receivers (see: rookie breakouts Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin).
Murphy said the biggest question mark with Breaux is his “long speed.” Although he’s fast, Murphy said the Saints likely didn’t consider that his No. 1 trait.
And Murphy said there is always an adjustment for players to make from the CFL to the NFL, especially since they usually need to make their mark on special teams. For recent examples, Murphy pointed to two CFL players who signed with the Saints last year – safety Marcus Ball (who made the team, primarily as a special teamer) and cornerback Derrius Brooks (who didn’t crack the roster in training camp).
“But if they’re scheming it a certain way and putting [Breaux] in the right position, he has the skill set to do some of the things that they’ve been asking [veteran cornerback]Patrick Robinson and other guys to do,” Murphy said. “Guys who may seem like they’re faster or more quick-twitch athletic than Breaux, but haven’t had the success with being physical on a regular basis, which is what it seems like the Saints want.”
Breaux had 33 tackles in 2014 with five pass breakups, three forced fumbles and his first career interception, which he returned 27 yards for a score.
Breaux also won a head-to-head battle in the playoffs against another CFL standout who has received heavy attention from NFL teams – receiver Duron Carter, son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter. Carter called Breaux the best cornerback in the CFL after being held to three catches for 25 yards.
As I wrote when Breaux was signed, it’s probably a long shot to expect him to step in right away and compete for a starting job. But the Saints’ cornerback position is a bit of a free-for-all right now behind No. 1 corner Keenan Lewis after they tried out Robinson, Corey White and Terrence Frederick in the No. 2 role during the 2014 season. And they’re still hoping for 2014 second-round draft pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste to develop as more of a long-term project after he barely played as a rookie.