July 28, 2012; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints rookie wide receiver Nick Toon (88) during a training camp practice at the team
The time is now for two of the New Orleans Saints young talents at wide receiver to step up—Nick Toon and Joe Morgan have a lot to prove next season as they slide up the depth chart, and the team desperately needs their production.
Out is speedster Devery Henderson, who mostly disappointed for the duration of his tenure with the team. As ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas writes, Toon and Morgan are now in a position to make names for themselves in 2013:
"The Saints still have veterans Marques Colston and Lance Moore, but several young players are going to have a chance at significant playing time because the Saints use a lot of three- and four-receiver sets.Joseph Morgan flashed potential at times last season. But the player to keep an eye on isNick Toon, who missed his rookie season because of injury."
As Yasinskas points out, Toon missed the duration of last season thanks to a foot injury after participating in the preseason. The team elected to shut him down via injured reserve so he could have surgery for a foot ailment that was well documented in the process leading up to the draft.
Now presumably healthy, Toon is another big, reliable target for quarterback Drew Brees. Toon stands at 6’2″ and 215 pounds and displayed consistent hands during his collegiate career at Wisconsin, where he amassed over 2,400 yards and scored 18 touchdowns, 10 of which came in his final season before declaring for the draft.
Toon uses his wide frame and physicality in concert with his elite route running skills to get open. 2013 is a major season for him to develop, as he’ll be pegged as Marques Colston’s eventually successor. However, he will not make a difference in the slot outside of the redzone, as the team will need a speedster similar to Henderson in that role to take the top off defenses.
That’s where Joe Morgan comes into play in 2013.
Morgan went undrafted out of Walsh in 2011 before the Saints scooped him up. He impressed enough to be kept around, but eventually succumbed to an injury that landed him on injured reserve.
Fast forward to 2012 and Morgan not only made the Saints’ active roster, but experienced somewhat of a breakout season. He reeled in 10 receptions as a big-play threat, which gave him 379 yards and three touchdowns (including one of the best plays of the 2012 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
At 6’1″ and possessing 4.40 speed, expect Morgan to win the full-time starting slot gig next season, barring the addition of a draft prospect who can compete with him for that title. If there’s one area Morgan needs to improve on, it’s actually catching the football. He dropped almost as many passes as he caught, as he dropped seven last year. That didn’t stop him from coming in as the No. 42 overall receiver in the NFL last year according to ProFootballFocus (subscription required).
The bottom line is, the Saints have done an excellent job of finding outstanding talent at the receiver position over the course of the past few seasons. As long as Toon can stay healthy and Morgan can become more reliable, the Saints offense isn’t going to skip a beat in 2013.