Oct 27, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills (84) carries the ball into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter agains the Buffalo Bills at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis sure do love discovering those hidden gems in the NFL draft. From Jahri Evans to Marques Colston, the New Orleans Saints have landed some studs. Well, it looks like they struck gold yet again. After leading the league with a 20 yards per catch average as a rookie, Kenny Stills will look to continue his production as a wide receiver in 2014.
A product of Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma Sooners, Stills set freshman records for receptions (61) and receiving yards (786). Following a Second-Team All-Big 12 selection as a sophomore, he went on to lead his team with 82 catches for 959 yards and eleven touchdowns as a junior — another Second-Team All-Big 12 performance.
Stills declared for the 2013 NFL Draft after three years of collegiate play. The former Sooner was called upon to bring his talents to Southeast Louisiana during the fifth round of the selections process, which transformed into a steal for the Black and Gold. 641 yards and five touchdowns on just 32 receptions is a pretty solid outing, especially being Drew Brees’ sixth favorite target.
He has earned his spot as New Orleans’ No. 2 wideout now that Lance Moore has moved on to join Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Stills’ speed and ability to separate from defenders could help him evolve into one of Brees’ top options as a deep threat this year.
A nice little stat-boost is in line for the young talent, but the addition of “Lightning” aka Brandin Cooks will likely take away some looks from No. 84. That’s okay though — the team will profit off that. Just imagine when Stills, Cooks and Joe Morgan are on the field simultaneously. All three receivers clock in at a 4.44 40-yard dash or better with Cooks being the quickest. Having missed all of last year, Morgan is returning from injury, which should have Saints fans on cloud nine.
So, let’s get back on track. Kenny Stills has the skillset to continue his success as a productive member of Sean Payton’s high-powered offense. With a full year of professional football in the scorebooks, he will be seeking a sophomore step-up in hopes of taking his game to the next level. A solid outing at OTAs is a start, but it’s on to the next. Running though drills at half speed is one thing, but now it’s time for full-contact practice, which will be the first step to fulfilling his expectations.
It seemed like the Saints would take the NFC South for most of the season, but a rough stretch landed them the wild card instead. But the team has gone all in this offseason, making them one of the more exciting teams to follow this year.