Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) hurdles over Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner (21) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 26-19. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
After the New Orleans Saints traded away All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, many began to worry that Drew Brees would have nobody to throw the ball to. Through the first few games of the season, that theory began to seem true.
But thanks to the emergence of both young and old talent, the wide receivers and tight ends are beginning to be a problem for opposing defenses every game.
WR Marques Colston: D-
If it weren’t for Sunday’s stellar performance against an atrocious Giants defense, Colston would have been flirting with F territory. Between age, poor route-running and a handful of dropped balls, the Saints’ all-time leading wide receiver is in obvious decline. Colston will always be loved by the Who Dat Nation, but his days in New Orleans are limited. The “Quiet Storm” is no more, but he did show he still has the occasional big game left in the tank.
WR Brandin Cooks: B
After a slow start, Cooks is on pace for a 1,000-yard season in his second year with the Saints. Initial poor play from the offensive line and double coverage from opposing defenses has caused Cooks to be contained for most of the year, yet he’s still managed over 500 yards and three touchdowns. Cooks is finding his way in the offense, while Drew Brees is starting find his man downfield. Get ready for a big second half from the Saints’ 2014 first-round pick.
WR Willie Snead: B
Excluding cornerback Delvin Breaux, Snead has been the biggest story of the season. Undrafted in 2014 and cut by both the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers, Snead is making his home with the Saints, and impressive manner. Through eight games, Snead is also on pace for over 1,000 yards and six scores. With invested trust in Snead, New Orleans has discovered a real gem.
WR Brandon Coleman: D-
Unfortunately, after a stellar training camp which led to some over-exaggerated preseason hype (we’re all guilty), Coleman has pretty much been a non-factor in the Saints’ passing game. Not only does he have problems getting open, but he’s having issues securing his catches, which have led to a tumble down the depth chart. Coleman has nine more weeks to step up his game, otherwise the Saints could be moving on from their once thought to be undrafted treasure.
TE Benjamin Watson – A
All we can really say is wow. Ben Watson has defied age to the extreme in 2015, helping Saints fans forget about Jimmy Graham (kinda). Through eight games and at the age of 34, Watson has turned in a stellar performance. He has become a factor in run blocking, pass blocking, and pass catching, totaling 32 receptions for 472 yards and three touchdowns. Those are above average numbers for a tight end, especially at his age. To top it off, Watson has the highest catch percentage of any tight end in the NFL this year at 81%.
TE Josh Hill – D
Remember when it was Hill who was supposed to take Jimmy Graham’s place? That didn’t happen. With offseason hype similar to Brandon Coleman’s, Hill just hasn’t been the player Sean Payton and company were hoping to see. That’s not to say he can’t turn the season around in the second half, but with Watson’s performance, Hill’s role is quickly diminishing. He’s sitting on just eight catches for 66 yards and a score through eight games.
Overall Position Grade: C+
After a slow start, and with little depth at both the wide receiver and tight end positions, guys are beginning to rise to the occasion in hopes of continuing to make this high-powered offense a feared unit. Final grades don’t come out for another nine weeks. There’s plenty of time to bring it up a letter grade, or even two.
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