Call it tactics or call it luck, but the New Orleans Saints have been known to mine wide receiver gold in late rounds of the draft and even in undrafted rookies. Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Willie Snead, and Brandon Coleman serve as just a few examples of Sean Payton’s under-the-radar picks in past years.
Bleacher Report recently revealed a list of every NFL team’s sleeper heading into training camp and picked wide receiver Marquez Callaway for the Saints. His numbers don’t overwhelm you (he recorded 21 catches for 213 yards last season), but the undrafted rookie has since exceeded everybody’s expectations.
With the absence of Emmanuel Sanders, and with Michael Thomas all but securing that No. 1 receiving slot, Callaway will be butting heads with the slightly more seasoned Tre’Quan Smith for the No. 2 job.
Unsurprisingly, Callaway’s draft profile doesn’t have too many nice things to say about him. Scouts considered him a one-trick pony coming out of Tennessee who lacked “the route savvy and consistent competitiveness to get open underneath.”
Marquez Callaway could be the New Orleans Saints’ biggest sleeper this season
In his first pro season, though, Callaway showed promising glimpses as a solid pass-catching target that proved his critics wrong. He used his 6-foot-1 frame and 205-pound body well against defensive backs and saw a good amount of action as a runner in the open field. Not to mention he showed very impressive return skills on special teams.
Once an unknown, undeveloped prospect with a meager highlight reel, Callaway has become a player whose name you should remember, according to some fellow Saints teammates.
In 2021, excitement and anticipation surround Callaway. Everyone will want to see how he pairs with the strong-armed Jameis Winston and whether he can register as a serious deep threat.
As with any underrated rookie, Callaway has ignited many conflicting opinions about his performance next season “Already better than Tre’Quan Smith.” “Hugely overrated.” “He can secure the No. 2 spot by the end of the year.” “Breakout season? More like the season will break him.”
So the last comment was a little mean. Marquez Callaway has the Big Easy talking, but this training camp, all he’s focused on is the playing. No one can deny he had a stellar rookie season, undrafted and all. He could make an even bigger impact this time around: just don’t sleep on him.