Around this time there is a lot of speculation of draft needs and 1st round pick options. For the Saints, the most endorsed options for the first round pick have been top end Wide Receivers in a talented wideout class, top tier Corners to develop into the second corner across from budding star Keenan Lewis, Linebackers that can play the run and in space, or another piece for the offensive line to keep Drew Brees upright.
There is a large amount of Wide Receiver talent in the first round in this year's draft and the Front Office's interest in several prospects (Cooks, Lee) have further affirmed that. Moreover, it seems that the chances of drafting a 1st round WR option are substantial.
The most discussed wide outs at the 27th pick thus far have been Marquise Lee, Odell Beckham Jr., and Brandin Cooks -- all of which possess top-end speed that are able to further stretch the field for the Saints. One less discussed prospect that could potentially sneak into the first round however is Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin does not fit into the same mold as the prior three WRs as he doesn't produce by his elite speed but instead outmuscles defensive backs for the ball. Benjamin excels in grabbing contested balls by using his large frame (6'5'', 240 lbs.) and good body control. With such size, he is not only capable of forcefully taking the ball out of the air when contested, but can also make it difficult for defenders to bring him down after the catch.
Though Benjamin may not have quite the same ability to stretch the field like the aforementioned options, his unique skillset allows him to be a constant mismatch for defenders and a good red zone threat. Despite such athleticism, Benjamin still has some issues to work on. His route running seems raw and needs to be developed at the pro level. Additionally, similar to Lee, he has had problems with some dropped balls.
With current speed receivers like a Kenny Stills (4.38) or a Joseph Morgan (4.32), it might be good for some more diversity in the receiving corps. Additionally, after the Seahawks recent success (which was in large part due to their historic secondary), there is a reported trend to larger, bigger-bodied corners who can play aggressively and jam at the line of scrimmage. To add bigger-bodied receivers that can match the aggression of this style of play might a suitable response to the dominating secondary play of Seattle.
It is not a mystery that Jimmy Graham is one of the biggest matchup nightmares and receives special attention as a result. In the playoff game at Seattle in particular, Graham was shut down as he was locked onto by safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas throughout the game. Granted Marques Colston found success in the playoff game (the touchdown of which was not against Sherman's press man coverage), it could still be good to add someone like a Kelvin Benjamin out wide to create another matchup problem for opposing defenses and another variable to scheme against.
With all this said, I'm not so sure Benjamin is worth the 1st round pick. However, I do think it could be worthwhile for the Saint's to start targeting bigger guys in the same vein as a Kelvin Benjamin to further create mismatches and problems for opposing defenses and create opportunities for the rest of the offense (including the speed players). In doing so, the offense might get a little more physical and be better suited for aggressive press coverage play at the line as seen in Seattle.
What do you guys think? Should we be looking for a bigger wide receiver like Benjamin? Or stick to the faster guys like Beckham, Lee, or Cooks? Or do we need both?
Thanks for reading as always!