It's not a secret that Sean Payton loves to find versatile weapons that he can use to manipulate defenses on any given play. Well, the offensive mastermind found himself a potential diamond in the rough when he selected Tommy Stevens in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
New Orleans didn't own a Day 3 selection, but the front office decided to mortgage future assets to move up and take Stevens. There were whispers about him being a hot commodity on the undrafted rookie market. One team that reportedly had interest in the dual-threat quarterback was Carolina.
Stevens spent most of his time in college playing quarterback - receiving limited snaps at Penn State and then a much larger role at Mississippi State. He finished his college career with 1,459 passing yards, 887 rushing yards, 62 receiving yards and 29 total touchdowns.
The production might not have fans salivating from the mouth, yet that doesn't mean he can't become a game-changer for the Saints. After all, we've seen Payton carve out an amazing role for Taysom Hill, who is now categorized as a football player by fans because he plays so many positions it's hard to just pick one.
Can the Saints turn Stevens into a similar weapon? That's the question that everyone in New Orleans is waiting to find out.
We sat down with Stevens to talk about his college career, potential new role with the Saints, how the locker room is responding to the Drew Brees' situation and more. Let's get this interview started.
The Spun: What was your favorite moment at either Penn State or Mississippi State?
Tommy Stevens: There have been a lot of cool memories from both places since I got to play in the Big Ten and SEC. I was able to play in the Citrus Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl. The one that stands out to me the most is winning the Big Ten Championship in my hometown of Indianapolis. That was just a special night for the program, and I’ll never forget it. It actually happened on the same day my best friend passed away back in 2010, so it was an emotional night for me.
The Spun: How do you feel about the Bulldogs moving on from Coach Moorhead and hiring Mike Leach?
TS: Honestly, I’ve heard nothing but great things about Coach Leach. I hope he’s able to bring his staff in and recreate something good for Mississippi State. Do I agree with the school’s decision to get rid of Coach Moorhead? I don’t, but obviously the university did what it thought was the best. Coach Moorhead now has a nice role ahead of himself at Oregon, and Coach Leach has great plans for Mississippi State. I’m excited for both parties.
The Spun: Can you see James Franklin making the jump to the NFL?
TS: I think he handles a ton of things well on and off the field. He’s doing amazing things at Penn State, so I really don’t see him moving to the NFL. That’s just me personally though. But crazier things have happened, so who knows.
The Spun: There were a lot of rumors about you being a hot commodity if you didn’t get drafted, so what was it like getting that call from the Saints and were you surprised?
TS: It all happened so quickly. Going into the draft, I knew that if I was going to be drafted it would be around the sixth or seventh round. I watched the draft just like everybody else, but I didn’t lock in until then. I spoke to the Saints early in the draft process. I had meetings with them. So, to end up in New Orleans isn’t too much of a surprise. Given that going into Day 3 they originally had no picks, I can say that I wasn’t originally expecting it. But things happen for a reason, and I’m glad to be a member of the Saints.
The Spun: What do you think is the hardest challenge when it comes to training from home?
TS: It’s hard for me at least to learn all this information through Zoom calls and things like that. I think it affects the younger guys more so than veterans when it comes to processing the information. It makes it more difficult, but at the same time everyone is on an even platform. It would be easier to learn it at the facility and taking live reps, so that’s the biggest challenge.
The Spun: People have said you might be the Taysom Hill of this draft class. You’re now teammates with him. How do you feel about that comparison?
TS: First, I’m honored to draw comparisons to Taysom who has done it at the highest level. I’ve always been taught at an early age to play as many positions as I can to make it easier for me to get on the field. I like to think of myself as a football player. I’ve never had these conversations about Taysom about it, but I’d like to believe he thinks of himself the same [a football player]. Doing more things make you more valuable, and at the end of the day you got to do what you got to do to win football games.
The Spun: Drew Brees was in the headlines for his recent comments. He addressed the team in meetings and addressed the fans on social media. For you personally, do you think the majority of the locker room has accepted his apology?
TS: Right now, we’re trying to keep everything in house. It’s obviously a huge topic at the moment, so we’re all doing our part to stay unified.
The Spun: You guys reportedly had Spike Lee in a meeting recently. How was that having an iconic figure of that magnitude speak to you guys?
TS: Yeah, it was really cool. We’ve had some really influential people in our team meetings and that’s a credit to Coach Payton. I’ve had some unique experiences during my time at Penn State or Mississippi State, but I never had the chance to talk to someone like Spike Lee or Shaquille O’Neal. Having those guys in our meetings to shed light on their experiences has been awesome.
The Spun: Is there any chance we’ll get to see you, Drew and Taysom all on the field at the same time?
TS: I can see us doing something like that. It would create great opportunity and it would manipulate defenses in a very unique wait. But that’s up to Coach Payton, so we’ll have to wait and see.
The Spun: What’s the first meal you plan on having when you get to New Orleans?
TS: I’ve never actually thought about that [laughing]. I kind of got my first introduction to southern food when I was at Mississippi State. I had crawfish for the first time with my roommate, who was a Louisiana native. As far as a meal, I’m not sure so maybe I should start looking at restaurants from now.
Stevens will try to hit the ground running when training camp begins in July.
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