“Absolutely,” Payton said of the dynamic playmaker who wound up going to the New York Giants with the No. 12 pick. “Absolutely. We were one of those teams in line just like everyone else.”
For one thing, the Saints were in the market for a wide receiver. They wound up trading up seven spots from No. 27 to No. 20 to snag another dynamic receiver, Brandin Cooks.
For another, Beckham is from New Orleans and played his college ball just up the road at LSU.
But even if none of those things was true, the Saints' visit to LSU’s pro day last year would have convinced them all on its own, as Payton recalled it.
“We were up for the workout, I went in a room and it was Odell and (fellow LSU receiver Jarvis) Landry,” Payton said of another receiver who has been excelling with the Miami Dolphins. “We’ve got this highlight tape that was put together, it wasn’t game tape, it was practice tape, and we sat in there for about 15 minutes. And I just remember coming away from the meeting like, ‘Holy cow!’ And I would say it was one of the most impressive pro days in regards to receiver workouts. You have those two running around, just a lot of skill on the field.
“You could see the explosiveness with (Beckham), soft hands, big hands. So we were very familiar, obviously he’s from here and then up the road at LSU and a guy that we didn’t feel like was going to be on the board near that long (to reach an area where the Saints could afford to get him).”
Beckham had 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns last season in just 12 games played. This year he has 42 catches for 524 yards and four TDs through seven games.
The Saints (3-4) will face Beckham for the first time on Sunday when they host the Giants (4-3) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.