Early-Round Draft Options
It’s clear that wide receiver is an area the Saints need to get better at for the future, and, to be honest, it’s a position that teams should be drafting every year. Outside of the quarterback, it generates the most overall value, and with how many receivers are needed to create a diverse passing attack, teams don’t focus on it enough.
Luckily for New Orleans, this is a strong draft for wide receivers. On the first two days of the draft, these players may intrigue them:
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota: Bateman has drawn some comparisons to Michael Thomas, and although those are lofty, it speaks to his overall refinement. He averaged 20.3 yards per reception as a sophomore in 2019 and is remarkably refine as a vertical threat. He’d be the dream pick at No. 28 overall, but it’s also unlikely he is available.
Rondale Moore, Purdue: As a freshman, Moore had 114 receptions for 1258 yards, which is absolutely absurd. Now, he hasn’t played much over the past two years and worked a very limited route tree condenses to a lot of targets behind the line of scrimmage, but Sean Payton loves his playmakers, and few are more explosive after the catch than Moore; he also ran a 4.29 40-yard dash and posted a 42.5 inch vertical at his pro day.
Ka’Darius Toney, Florida: Toney profiles very similar to Moore as an overall “gadget” option who makes plays after the catch. Payton could covet his ability to move him around and scheme opportunities for him, and in a lot of ways, he profiles as a better version of Deonte Harris. He had 984 receiving yards at Florida last year.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State: Wallace likely will be available in the second round, and is a player the Saints should absolutely target. He has worked down the field in college (16.8 career yards/reception) and posted 1491 receiving yards as a sophomore. His abilities after the catch and as a contested-catch receiver are incredibly intriguing.
Tutu Atwell, Louisville: Another day-two target, Atwell will work out of the slot with his 5’9″, 165-pound frame. However, he is far from a gadget player, as he was a vertical slot weapon for Louisville, posting 1272 yards and 18.4 yards per reception at a sophomore in 2019. With his athleticism and dynamism, keep a close eye on him as a player Payton may covet.
Dyami Brown, North Carolina: My draft models aren’t as high on Brown as most, but if you’re looking for a vertical threat, he profiles as such. He averaged over 20 yards/reception in each of the past two seasons and would be able to line up on the outside for New Orleans. The fit with Winston is certainly enticing.
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss: Moore ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at his pro day, but what was more impressive was his 6.66 three-cone. His change of direction ability is tremendous, and he held his own in a tough conference as Ole Miss’ go-to receiver out of the slot. Despite playing in just 8 games, he totaled 1193 yards and is seen as an exceptional route runner.
Of this group, Bateman stands out as the premier option, but Wallace’s expected draft position, production, and fit in Payton’s offense.
However, why not double down at the position. Moore and Toney would also be maximized by Payton’s creativeness, and right now, this team needs more than one receiver for their long-term development.
If not in the early rounds, that should still happen based on the amount of depth available in the later rounds. Speaking of…