Kenny Stills, the 5th Round draft pick of our recent draft class, is our next focus. Stills came out of Oklahoma (a very pass heavy attack like the Saints) after his Junior year. In his last season with the Sooners, Stills caught 82 passes for 959 yards, and 11 touchdowns. At the combine, he ran a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash. He can get clear separation from secondaries, and was a big playmaker for the Sooners during his tenure. Perhaps the only negative, or something to keep an eye from the 21 year old rookie? He had a DUI charge in 2011. A mistake, but let’s hope for this to be well behind him. Stills has a strong chance to see action this season, and he fits the Saints scheme extremely well. He, along with Toon, will be the ones to watch the most to evolve during OTAs, training camp, and the preseason.
Chris Givens (not the one you might be thinking of), 24, out of Miami of Ohio, is an undrafted rookie who entered the Saints family in 2012. He once once reportedly in contention with Devery Henderson & Adrian Arrington, but was waived after an injury in August. He is currently locked up until 2015, and given his health, could be a ‘sleeper’ of a player to remember. Assuming he stays healthy, could see a great deal of action in the preseason.
Saalim Hakim, 23, out of Tarleton State (yes, you have heard of this school before – see Rufus Johnson), was promoted from practice squad back on December 18th. He is the younger brother of former NFL receiver Az-Zahir Hakim, who will always stay in Saints history. Hakim was a soccer star, and teams salivated at his 4.31 40-yard dash speed. In fact, it was reported as many as 18 NFL teams were interested in Hakim. He is a great developmental project, and will be extremely exciting to watch and grow during the preseason.
Andy Tanner, 25, quietly impressed the Saints during the 2012 preseason, but sustained a leg injury in the Jacksonville preseason game that would end his run. Believe it or not, Tanner has been around the Saints since 2010. He was an undrafted rookie free agent out of Midwestern State, and spent the first season on the practice squad. He was later cut in 2011 to make room for quarterback Sean Canfield. Tanner had a real shot to make the active roster, given his performance during camp & preseason, so you can understand why the Saints have him still. Tanner could again find himself moving up the depth charts for 2013.
Jarred Fayson, 25, has been around the league since 2011, where he was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent. He became injured, and was waived in August of 2011. Fayson then bounced around to the Colts practice squad and the Patriots practice squad until he was signed to the Saints on January 2nd of this year. You could say he may be the ‘long shot’ of the group, but learning from the teams he was previously a part of could prove to be helpful for him.
Courtney Roby, the only other veteran wide receiver talent of the bunch, was re-signed on March 17th to a one-year contract. Roby, 30, has been a Saint since 2008, and his role is primarily prominent on Special Teams. Don’t look for much change for Roby in the 2013 Saints offense.
All in all, I believe this Wide Receiver group is extremely underrated, perhaps one of the most underrated in the entire league. You could also argue that is overall unproven, with the amount of younger, raw, inexperienced talent on the roster. With Drew, you never know which receiver will emerge during the game as the go-to guy. We will possibly still succumb to some growing pains with the younger Wide Receivers, but that’s where Coach Henry Ellard comes into play. This may be the most entertaining positional battle of training camp/preseason.
Next Up: Offensive Line