New Orleans Saints’ need for WR falls in NFL Draft ‘sweet spot’ – Reuters Sports News

METAIRIE, La. — If the New Orleans Saints don’t select a wide receiver in the first round on April 28, frankly, they’ll drop the ball.

Despite the vital return of veteran Michael Thomas after an ankle injury that wiped out his entire 2021 season, the Saints are still in dire need of another premium wide receiver. They finished last in the NFL in passing offense last year and have yet to add to the position in free agency.

Additionally, the Saints now hold the 16th and 19th picks after a trade to the Philadelphia Eagles – and both are in what ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay described as “the sweet spot for a receiver. large”.

“This class reminds me a bit more of 2020, in that Henry Ruggs was the first receiver on the board at No. 12, but there were still six receivers drafted in the [top 25]”McShay said.

In 2021, three receivers entered the top 10. In 2019, the “sweet spot” was Round 2, where Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown and DK Metcalf were selected. Either way, New Orleans missed out on the historic haul of receiver talent that entered the NFL in those three drafts.

The Saints and Atlanta Falcons are the only two teams to draft no receivers in Rounds 1-4 from 2019-2021. But the Falcons added a dynamic wide receiver in tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth pick last year.

That’s why the Saints closet is so empty. And that’s why they can no longer afford to ignore it.

If they don’t write an escrow, the Saints better call immediately and offer to pay former LSU star (and local fan favorite) Jarvis Landry whatever he asks as the best remaining free agent.

Even if they draft a receiver, it wouldn’t hurt to add a veteran like Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., TY Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, William Fuller V or Cole Beasley – despite a few question marks that have them left on the open market.

The Saints have other ‘needs’ – like left tackle, safety and defensive line. But the receiver is the only one that should be bolded, underlined and surrounded by a red marker.

The good news is that they have many attractive draft options. At least one of the top four consensus should always be available among Ohio states Garrett WilsonUSC Drake Londonfrom Alabama jameson williams and Ohio State Chris Olave.

Or they could probably have their pick from the next tier which includes Arkansas. Treylon BurkPenn State Jahan Dotson and the state of North Dakota Christian Watson.

The other good thing about this year’s class is versatility, with top receivers having “so many different traits” according to ESPN analyst Matt Bowen.

Garrett Wilson

The Saints would likely have to trade to acquire the 6-footer, 183-pounder – which is a shame as he might have the best inside/outside ability for a team that could use someone who can line up in the slot to complement Thomas, Tre ‘Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harty.

“Extremely dynamic after the reception,” said Bowen, who compares Wilson to Stefon Diggs. “Top level ball skills and body control to make plays on the back shoulder, front shoulder, over the rim. He can move up the ladder and finish.

“He’s going to need time and development in terms of the nuances and details of race routes against professional DBs. But what I can’t train is sudden ability, stop and start speed that makes it so dynamic and elusive.”

Drake London

Another who may have left before the Saints pick, the 6-4, 219-pounder is an obvious choice in midfield. Perhaps the most similar to Thomas – but all the more difficult to match defenses.

“I think Drake London would be a really good pick,” said ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid. “I think he could play inside and outside; he’s done both. But an underrated factor is he’s a terrific run blocker. I know that’s something [former coach] Sean Payton [valued] in the old days.”

jameson williams

Bowen paired the Saints with Williams on his best team for receivers. “Explosive and sudden on tape with tremendous vertical speed…I like the fit with quarterback Jameis Winston’s aggressive mindset…my favorite wide receiver prospect in this class.”

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. also sent Williams to New Orleans in his latest simulation draft. And Reid agreed: “I think he actually fits the Saints the best” – although Reid predicts the 6-2, 179-pounder will go into the top 15 despite tearing his ACL in the national championship game at january.

McShay said Williams’ injury is the only thing that could get him into the New Orleans lineup.

“Honestly, I think when all is said and done, he has a very good chance of being the best receiver in this group,” McShay said.

Chris Olave

Probably the best bet for posing on stage with a Saints cap. Opinions are more mixed on the 6-foot, 187-pounder due to some questions about his physique. But he is widely regarded among the elite runners in this year’s class – and anyone who watched the Saints last year knows the No. 1 trait they lacked was someone who could open up consistently .

“It’s a 4.39 speedster that’s just silky smooth and a great vertical road runner,” McShay said. “I think he has a chance to be, if not a No.1 in the league, a really good No.2.”

Treylon Burk

Reid said he would be more comfortable taking Burks in the mid-20s. But the 6-2, 225-pounder could be a particularly good fit if New Orleans wants someone who can line up in the slot.

“I think he’s kind of a dynamic multi-dimensional player,” said Bowen, who mentioned how the 49ers have used Samuel so creatively as a catcher and runner while suggesting Burks could be “deployed in multiple alignments and on fabricated keys”.

Jahan Dotson

“Dotson is an undersized slot receiver, but he’s a burner,” McShay said of the 5-11, 178-pounder. “And he’s so under control. He’s got easy speed. And I’d say in my opinion, based on the board, he’s got the best ball skills of any receiver in this class.”

Day 2

Reid thinks the Saints could still find a starter in the second round. One elevator he particularly likes is Georgia. George Pickens, which is “really starting to pick up a lot of steam lately.” The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder also tore his ACL last March, but recovered in time to play the final four games and continued to improve.

Bowen also mentioned Cincinnati Alec Pierce and Alabama John Metchie III Day 2 values ​​as possible.

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