With Brandin Cooks’ departure, the New Orleans Saints look to fill the void with a new look. A preseason review on the 5 WRs who are up for the challenge and make up the Saints receiving corps.
In March this past offseason the New Orleans Saints traded away Brandon Cooks, their number one receiver. He was shipped to New England for their 32nd overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. After just 3 years in the league with the Saints, Cooks had two 1000 yard seasons. He showed a lot of promise for the future of the Saints receiving corps until the trade rumors started to swirl. Now with Cooks gone, the Saints head into Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season with a new and potentially improved look.
While losing Cooks was tough, the Saints quickly made a move to bring in another playmaker, Tedd Ginn Jr. He may have a more versatile role than Cooks this year. Ginn was the 9th Pick in the 2007 Draft out of Ohio State. Entering his 10th year in the league, the seasoned veteran could be primed to break 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
Ginn’s preseason started off on a rough note with a bad dropped touchdown pass against the Browns in the first quarter. But since then he has really found his groove. In the preseason game against the Texans, Ginn took a reverse run play on the first play of the game. He went for an impressive 24 yards. But it was called back by a block in the back call. Later in the game, Ginn caught a screen pass that should have been a 5-10 yard play. But his playmaking ability took a simple screen pass for 24 yards. Ginn has continuously improved this offseason. And with Sean Payton starting to conjure up plays to get him in space, Ginn could become a lethal playmaking threat the season.
After one season in the books, it seems as if the whole NFL knows who Michael Thomas is. The 2nd round pick from last years’ draft enters this season coming off a 1,137 yard and 9 TD rookie resume. Some say his breakout rookie year was similar to Odell Beckham and that this year could be his rise to elite stardom. Regardless, the guy is good and this preseason was no different. Thomas proved that Brees can rely on him no matter the situation. Getting open early, shredding cornerbacks, and flashing those good hands, Thomas will be ready for any ball thrown his way this season. With franchise player talent, look for him to demonstrate exactly that in his sophomore season.
The Wild Card
Last season Willie Snead was just shy of 900 yards with 4 touchdowns. After two years in the League, Snead has shown that come gameday, he can put up numbers if called upon. Although he had the quieter preseason out of the bunch, he will quickly bounce back in the regular season. If defenses begin to key in on Thomas and Ginn in games, look for Snead to take over. He has demonstrated that he belongs in this league, now since the roster is loaded with more talent this could be his best year. Snead completes the three headed monster that is going to be tough for defenses to tackle.
Editor’s note: this story was written just prior to the news that Snead would be serving a three game suspension to begin the season. Please adjust accordingly.
The Big Guy
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While Snead, Thomas, and Ginn are all household names in the NFL, Brandon Coleman still looks to make his mark. Cook’s departure has opened new doors for Coleman and this could be the year for him to climb into that household name category. This 6’6″, 225-pound monster begins to look more and more like Marques Colston with each passing game. This past preseason Coleman put his length and strength on display making many tough grabs and led the Saints in receiving against the Texans. With Cooks gone, look for Coleman to get more reps and further his quest to become the heir to the Marques Colton role.
Tommylee Lewis had the 6th most yards by a receiver in the NFL in preseason. He’s found a way to capture the heart of many Saints fans. The 5’7” lightning bolt displayed his talent in the preseason opener with 10 catches for 124 yards. The Saints will most likely get creative with this speedster. They have him and Ginn taking care of the return roles on special teams along with Alvin Kamara.
The Saints have accumulated weapons to fill the void that Cooks left behind. Look to see breakout years from Thomas and Snead in receiving yards and all around yardage for Ginn. Also be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Lewis and Coleman as they seek to make their mark in the NFL. One thing remains true: all of these weapons means that Drew Brees almost always will have someone open to throw to.