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New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Willie Snead a Pleasant Surprise

In the midst of a rocky start to the 2015 season, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Willie Snead has been a bright spot. Garnering little attention through camp, Snead quietly worked his way past incumbents and into a prime position to be one of Drew Brees favorite targets!

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

What's up Who Dats! I want to first wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving holiday! With the New Orleans Saints in the midst of their 2015 bye, we're going to take a look at a pleasant surprise for the team this year, wide receiver Willie Snead. While the Saints are still in need of a reliable, play-maker type at WR, Snead has at least achieved the reliable part. He's been responsible for a few big catches and has turned out to be one of QB Drew Brees' favorite targets in a pinch. Fellow wideout Brandin Cooks has started to come on as the season has progressed and Marques Colston is picking up the pace. In spite of their increased production, Snead has still garnered looks in critical moments. We'll look at his stats and compare them to his peers and also talk about his path to this point!

Every Brees Needs a Snead

On the season, Snead has produced 41 catches, 626 yards, and 3 TDs all while only netting one catch in week 1 and 0 catches against the Washington Redskins. (It is worth noting that Snead was hampered by injury for the 'Skins game.) Cooks has 50 catches and 701 yards plus 6 TDs (5 have come in the last three games). Up to three weeks ago, Snead had outplayed Cooks, gaining the confidence of Brees to keep him involved in the passing game. Tight end Ben Watson found a groove to assist Brees in having multiple targets to spread the ball around, but Snead has remained high in targets the whole time. You almost have to think that opposing teams viewing Snead as a weapon/viable option has helped Cooks start to shake loose because they can't just key on him. The offensive group has developed, even as Colston slowly fades from relevance and new players emerge as key components of a potent offense.

Now we've looked at the numbers, but where did Willie Snead come from? I will honestly say that I had no expectations for the young man as the season started. He definitely wasn't on my radar as the guy who would fill the void of production lost when Kenny Stills was traded to the Miami Dolphins. Looking back, there was nothing about Snead's profile that jumped off the page. 5'11", 195 lbs, and a 4.62 forty at receiver just won't get you high on most NFL draft boards. For Snead, it meant going undrafted in 2014 and landing with the Cleveland Browns after posting 106 catches for 1,516 yards and 15 TDs in his junior season at Ball State. He was beat out by Miles Austin and a couple JAGs and then ended up on the Carolina Panthers practice squad. In week 15 of 2014, he joined the Saints organization and has been working his way up the depth chart ever since.

You're All I Snead

Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones were in a heated camp battle (according to reports) to become the 3rd WR behind Cooks and Colston and Nick Toon was in the mix as well. But quietly, Snead brought sure hands, consistent effort, and production to practice and slid past Jones and Toon. A quality preseason and start to the regular season propelled him into a prominent role in the offense and before you realized it, he was a top target and competing for leading receiver (statistically) on the team. Some will view it as him beating out low-grade competition, but I prefer to look on the bright side and recognize a player who's had a year to adjust to the pro game (Toon never did) and is capable of contributing to a team that doesn't need him to be a star, just consistent.

Former Saints receiver Lance Moore made a living off moving the chains, slipping past the defense every now and then, and being there when Brees needed a confidence completion. Snead seems capable of fitting this mold and has already built a rapport with Brees. I'm not predicting that Snead will become a football legend, but I do see him as a quality contributor.

So what's your opinion on Snead? Let us know how you view this young player after 10 games? As always, Thanks for reading, Be Cool Who Dats!