The New Orleans Saints’ backup tight end Dan Arnold hasn’t always been known for his pass-catching, but that’s a narrative he’s re-writing.
Dan Arnold was brought into the New Orleans Saints organization to be an additional tight end in run-blocking scenarios in 2018. Last season, it was Ben Watson and Arnold that were the team’s main tight end options.
This season, the Saints will be even more so in the hunt for a receiving threat over the middle. The team has a dynamic receiver in Michael Thomas. They have a deep threat in Ted Ginn Jr. They even have an elite tight end in Jared Cook now.
Cook stands a tall 6-foot-5. That said, Thomas may not be the only player drawing double teams in the red zone. Those two will open the door wide open for players like Arnold to get more involved in the offense.
Arnold wasn’t a major threat last season in the receiving game. He played in ten games, starting just one. He totaled 19 targets, 12 receptions, 150 yards and one touchdown. He almost beat that through three preseason games.
Cook’s play mimicked that of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas. He played a few snaps, ran a few routes, caught a few balls, but did little else. That means it was up to Arnold to showcase his skillset when route-running.
He did just that, securing over 110 yards and a touchdown on a mere seven receptions, being targeted 11 times. At 6-foot-6, Arnold is too big for cornerbacks and too agile for many linebackers. Those potential mismatches could make him a problem for defenses this season.
According to Pro Football Focus (premium content), Arnold was given a 79.8 in receiving through the three games. If you don’t count running backs, Arnold was the best-graded Saints receiving threat. Although the preseason, that’s still telling.
Arnold was even tied for the fourth-best rating all of last season, coming in after Thomas, Kamara and Watson. Replacing Watson with Cook, expect Arnold to build upon his rookie season this upcoming season.
The Saints are typically a team that plays two-tight end sets heavily; however, if they see the value in having two 6-foot-5-plus threats on the field, they’ll start giving Arnold more snaps.
The 24-year-old won’t explode onto the scene, but he could quietly have a very quality 2019.