Dec 15, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton after a game at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams defeated the Saints 27-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Following the 2014 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints made quite a splash in the undrafted free agent market. Training camp gives these young rookies an opportunity to show coaches and teammates that they’re worthy of a role with the organization. However, with the Black and Gold’s first NFL Preseason game of the year just days away, now is really the time for these blooming talents to shine their way into a roster spot. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five undrafted rookies to watch for when the Saints visit the Gateway to the West to take on the St. Louis Rams.
WR Brandon Coleman
Coleman was figured to be one of the bigger steals of the undrafted free agent market after the former Rutgers wideout went untouched during the selection process. He has not looked too sharp at training camp up to this point, but maybe he can make up for that during Friday’s contest. At 6-foot-6, the ex-basketball player becomes an immediate red-zone target for any quarterback who happens to look his way. Coleman runs downfield with long strides and averaged a solid 22 yards per catch during his collegiate career. His long arms grant him serious playmaking ability, especially against shorter defenders that try to match up with him. Maybe that playmaking ability will finally reveal itself in St. Louis.
FS Pierre Warren
This is a kid who has been nothing but a pleasant surprise so far at training camp. Whether it’s batting balls away or making acrobatic interceptions, Warren has been all over the field. He plays with admirable athletic ability and aggressiveness, which is why he’s so good at breaking up all these passes. The Jacksonville State (AL) product brings excellent size and arm length to the safety position, so we’ll see if that, along with his talents can help him find success at the next level. His first shot at it will be on Friday.
TE Nic Jacobs
This Louisiana native may have a real shot at securing the third tight end spot behind Jimmy Graham and Benjamin Watson. Jacobs actually began his college career at LSU before transferring to McNeese State in Lake Charles, LA. His 6-foot-5 frame and giant 10-inch hands are ideal for his position His excellent blocking ability is something that could come in handy for protecting Drew Brees. Jacobs lacks elite route running skills, which gives him trouble separating from defenders, but some work with an outstanding Saints coaching staff has helped him put up a solid performance at training camp so far. Let’s see what he can do against the Rams, especially in short-yardage or red-zone passing situations.
DE George Uko
The 6-foot-3 defensive end brings good size, leverage and versatility to the Saints’ line. After leaving USC early, he has some developing to do, but could end up being a nice fit in Rob Ryan‘s aggressive scheme. Uko plays angry, which is something a team can never have too much of. At the moment, he’s listed on the unofficial depth chart behind Akiem Hicks and Tyrunn Walker on the left side, so he should see a majority of the playing time during New Orleans’ first preseason matchup of 2014.
OLB Kasim Edebali
This is just a guy who I’m quite fond of at the moment. If Edebali can make the transition from college to the pros, I believe he could become a lethal pass rusher at the next level. He was a dominant force as a senior in Boston College‘s linebacker corps, finishing the year with 67 tackles (15 for loss), 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and five passes defended. Again, if he can make the jump to the NFL, he could be one of the bigger surprises during the preseason.
The New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams preseason matchup it set to kickoff Friday, August 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. If you’re not going to be in attendance, be sure to tune in to NFL Network.