As New Orleans kicks off their 2018 preseason tonight against the Jaguars, here are the Saints rookies you need to be keeping an eye on.
For the Saints, all eyes are on the team’s matchup tonight against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s the first time we’ll get to see the team on the field since their heartbreaking NFC Divisional playoff loss seven months ago in Minnesota. Of the 90 players currently on the Saints roster, 19 of them are rookies who weren’t around for that last season.
All of that is behind them, though, as the team has looked very well in camp thus far. Especially Marcus Williams, the second-year safety who infamously missed tackling Stefon Diggs in what is dubbed now as the “Minnesota Miracle.” Williams was just a rookie last season and he was part of one of the greatest rookie classes of all-time.
The class changed the Saints’ luck and led to one of the more memorable seasons of the last two decades. The team is hoping to at least come close to duplicating that outcome in 2018. It’s nearly impossible to top the results, especially with less overall selections and zero second rounders.
But, there’s still a whole lot of talent in this rookie class for the Saints. They get their first shot at showing Who Dat Nation what they have to give tonight against the Jacksonville Jaguars. There’s quite a bit to look out for regarding the rookies.
Arguably, the most important youngster to watch tonight was also the least likely to contribute early on: Boston Scott (30). The 23-year old running back from Louisiana Tech was a sixth round selection back in April. He’s behind both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, the sensational backfield duo. However, Ingram’s 4-game suspension to begin the season turns attention to Scott.
He will be splitting carries with Kamara as well as veteran Terrance West and whichever other running backs make the final roster. Tonight will be the first time fans get to see Scott in action outside of Tech, so watch to see if he’s able to break tackles and maneuver through tight holes like Ingram. The team will need all the ground support they can get during his absence.
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No, Tre’Quan Smith (10) isn’t a running back, despite what NFL Network said. Instead, he’s one of the most slept-on wide receivers in the 2018 class. His 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior at Central Florida earned him the 91st overall pick this past draft.
He’s impressed heavily in camp, being able to high-point deep throws and use his full 6-1, 210-pound frame to haul in catches. Like Scott, Smith likely won’t face any first-team secondary members tonight. But, he will be facing opposing NFL competition and his importance as a fourth receiver in 2018 is vital for this team. Watch for Smith to be targeted on big plays.
Unfortunately, the biggest name on New Orleans’ rookie list won’t need any eyes kept on him tonight during the game. Marcus Davenport (92), defensive end out of UTSA, will not be playing against the Jaguars. Well, that’s not official, but he’s missed eight practices thus far in training camp due to a muscle pull. It’s minor, so expect him to be playing against Arizona next Friday. Everyone should be excited to see Davenport play, so it’s rough to have to wait at least eight more days.
Rick Leonard and Will Clapp
The two offensive linemen selected by the Saints in the 2018 draft could have flipped slots. Rick Leonard (73) was taken in the fourth round out of Florida State, and local-favorite Will Clapp (64)was selected way back in the seventh round out of LSU. Before the draft, though, many experts and front offices had Leonard pegged as perhaps an undrafted-type guy due to his injuries.
Clapp’s impressive career for the Tigers earned him third and fourth round grades by the same people. Leonard stands at 6’7” and is currently standout right tackle Ryan Ramczyk’s backup, so watch for Leonard to pick up on cues correctly to help solidify his depth spot. Clapp has also received numerous snaps with the second-string team, and his value as a 6-4 guard in this offense is priceless. So look for the rugged lineman to create some running lanes for Scott, West and whoever else.
Natrell Jamerson and Kamrin Moore
Rounding out the drafted rookies is two defensive backs. Kamrin Moore (39) hails from Boston College, and Natrell Jamerson (27) comes to the Saints via Wisconsin. Both are athletic support players at their respective positions (cornerback for Moore, safety for Jamerson). Either could be a ball hawk, or a return man, so watch for what they can do on the field that will help the Saints’ special teams during the regular season.