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Saints assistant GM: Chiefs were probably taking Cesar Ruiz at No. 32 overall

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Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland had “pretty strong intel” the Chiefs would have taken the Michigan center.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it wasn’t Clyde Edwards-Helaire no matter what, after all — at least at No. 32.

NewOrleans.football’s Nick Underhill passed along news from New Orleans Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland that the team had “pretty strong intel” the Kansas City Chiefs would have taken Michigan center Cesar Ruiz had he been available at No. 32 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Dolphins, who had the No. 30 pick, were also reportedly interested.

Rather than trading back in the draft, the Saints took Ruiz at No. 24. Here is our Chiefs Draftmas writeup on Ruiz from Craig Stout:

STOUT: As an interior offensive lineman, Ruiz is as steady as they come. He handles both power rushers and speed rushers well, allowing the quarterback time and space to maneuver in the pocket. His anchor also shows up well in the running game, playing with plenty of strength to blow open holes in the interior.

However, Ruiz really shines when he’s asked to move. His agile footwork and excellent speed allow for quick pulls that other interior lineman can’t execute. He climbs effortlessly to the second level and eliminates linebackers after his combo blocks. He routinely has the block that springs the big gain.

He’s not just an athlete at the position, either. Ruiz is an incredibly smart player who sets protections well, quickly identifying stunts to pick up the free rusher. He works well with his quarterback to limit pressure; he would almost immediately become one of Patrick Mahomes’ favorite linemen.

The Dolphins instead selected Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene and the Chiefs drafted LSU’s Edwards-Helaire.

The Chiefs addressed the offensive line position two rounds later with the selection of TCU offensive lineman Lucas Niang. They also signed offensive linemen Yasir Durant and Darryl Williams in free agency after the draft.