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NEW ORLEANS — The Saints pulled off a surprise in the first round, selecting Houston defensive end Payton Turner with the 28th pick in the draft.

Here is what Saints Head Coach Sean Payton says about the team’s decision to draft Turner:

“You do your homework, you explore possibilities of moving. And he was someone…You’re never certain that a player is going to be available and we weren’t with this player. Man, he has a lot of things, a lot of traits that we value. He was a high-energy player, his prototype, his size. We really had this player as someone that you couldn’t help but notice, the makeup was good. And you don’t go into a draft necessarily sometimes saying, hey, this was a position, you’re really paying attention to the talent. And what I mean by that is, it might not have appeared to have been a player at a position we would want. But there were too many things that we felt gave this guy a lot of chances to be successful in our league.”

Turner, 6-6 270, started 23 games for the Cougars in the last two seasons.

He had five sacks at Houston.

He also had 14.5 tackles for losses.

Turner has a huge wingspan, and plenty of upside.

He was rising on draft boards, late.

After much speculation about the Saints trading up, a deal never materlized.

Of the 32 picks in the first round, 29 were from Power 5 schools.

Two were from the American Athletic Conference, Turner and Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins, who was picked No. 16 overall by Arizona.