Both Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis made it clear that priority no. 1 for the upcoming draft is to get better on defense but with three picks among the first 45 (#13, #31 and #44) they could definitely look for a new offensive weapon. They almost have to after the departures of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills.
While the Saints already have a potential in-house solution to replace Jimmy Graham in Josh Hill it’s harder to find a Kenny Stills-type receiver on the roster as of now.
Ohio State senior wide receiver Devin Smith would be an ideal replacement (and maybe even an upgrade) for Kenny Stills, who has “taken his talents to south beach” after the trade that brought to New Orleans inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick in this year’s draft.
NFL scouting combine measurables:
Weight: 196 LBS
Arm Length: 31 inches
Hands: 9 inches
40-yard dash: 4.42 secs
Bench press (225 LBS): 10 reps
Vertical jump: 39.0 inches
Broad jump: 122 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.15 secs
"2013 season (junior): Smith earned honorable mention all-Big Ten Conference honors (coaches) as a junior after catching 44 passes for 660 yards and eight touchdowns to rank second on the team in all three categories … he caught a pass in all 14 games … he was on the receiving end of a Kenny Guiton pass that represents the longest play from scrimmage in school history – 90 yards – vs. California … less than two minutes later he caught a 47-yard TD, part of a career-high 149-yard receiving day against the Golden Bears … 49.7 yards-per-catch vs. Cal was a Big Ten best for the season … Smith also caught a big, 53-yard touchdown pass vs. Michigan … he tied a career-high with seven receptions vs. Iowa."
"2014 season (senior): Honorable mention All-Big Ten. Played in all 15 games with 11 starts. Led team with 931 yards and 12 TD. Had 4 receptions, 137 yards, 3 TD vs Wisconsin in Big Ten Championship Game. Had 2 receptions, 87 yards, TD in Sugar Bowl vs Alabama."
Devin Smith is able to burst off of the line of scrimmage and maintain excellent speed throughout his route. While his hands aren’t elite he possesses quick feet and doesn’t loses balance/speed when tracking the ball on deep shots. His thin frame and lack of patience in his route could be a problem but his ability to create immediate separation on quick route concepts is very valuable in the Saints’ offense. Smith is a poor run blocker but he can be lethal with his speed/quickness, especially in the red zone.
In a recent interview at the scouting combine Smith said this about playing in New Orleans (via The Advocate):
"Oh, we’re gonna go get it. […] That’d be a great fit. There’d be older guys there that would help me get through what I need to get through and sure I’m headed in the right direction."
Picking Smith with the 31st overall pick could be a reach but if the Saints really like him I could see them pull the trigger that early. They could also wait and see if he falls to #44 and in that case Smith would represent extreme value and it would be hard to pass on him.