Things worked out for the Saints because the guy they picked at the end of the first round turned out to be a good player. But as importantly for them, things worked out because they didn’t get a chance to take linebacker Reuben Foster.
Saints coach Sean Payton told Peter King of SI.com that he thought they’d have still taken tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd pick even if the 49ers hadn’t traded in front of them to take Foster 31st last year. But he admitted they were considering Foster, and were on the phone with his girlfriend during the draft.
Foster said after last year’s draft that the Saints were on the phone with him leading up to their pick, and indicated they wanted to take him. They also wanted to talk to his girlfriend, asking if she was going to be able to help Foster stay out of trouble.
“This was part of our fact-finding late in the round,” Payton said. “I hadn’t had a chance to meet his girlfriend during the pre-draft process, and we were still in the process of deciding. I think we were going to take Ramczyk anyway, but I wanted to talk to her about Reuben.”
Foster won’t be participating in the 49ers offseason program, after he was charged with felony domestic violence. He’s accused of dragging her by the hair, punching her in the head a number of times and puncturing her eardrum. The team keeping him at arm’s length is a preemptive move, since the league hasn’t put him on the commissioner’s exempt list as they have done in similar cases.
So while the Saints can breathe a sigh of relief for avoiding that problem, Payton couldn’t get away from the human issues.
“It’s tragic, and it’s sad,” Payton said. “I just feel awful when those things happen.”
As it pertains to football, Ramczyk became part of a brilliant draft class along with cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Marcus Williams, and running back Alvin Kamara. But even though they liked Ramcyzk, a sturdy tackle from Wisconsin, it’s hard to ignore the idea that the 49ers did them an inadvertent favor.