The free agent signing of Cameron Meredith away from the Chicago Bears in hopes of improving the production around their star Pro Bowl wideout, Michael Thomas. Thomas established himself as one of the best receivers in the league last season, but the rest of the New Orleans wide receiver unit struggled at times to produce with any consistency. Ted Ginn Jr. had a solid year in his first season with the Saints, and the team re-signed the still developing Brandon Coleman to maintain continuity. New Orleans lost restricted free agent Willie Snead to the Baltimore Ravens earlier this week, however. Snead struggled in 2017, catching just 8 passes for 92 yards and no touchdowns. Lost in last year's struggles was the fact that Snead averaged 70 receptions for 885 yards over the previous two seasons, and consistently converted on key 3rd downs. Today's draft profile will look at a player who was known for clutch performances in key situations throughout college.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR (Penn State)
Hamilton was a four star recruit from Mountain View High School in Stafford, VA., and would go on to be a four year starter at Penn State. After redshirting his freshman year, Hamilton would lead the Nittany Lions in both catches (82) and receiving yards (899) in 2014. It turned out to be his best season statistically, but he would be a respected team leader and clutch performer throughout his college career. Hamilton finished his senior season on a high note, catching 53 passes for 857 yards and career high 9 touchdown receptions. He leaves Penn State as the school's all-time leader in receptions (214), and third in receiving yardage. His performance at the NFL Scouting Combine were met with mixed reviews, given questions about his athletic ability. He did display short area quickness with a 4.15 second 20-yd. shuttle, fifth best among all participating wideouts, then answered some doubts about his straight line speed with a 4.47 40-yd. dash at his pro day.
Hamilton is considered one of the best route runners in this draft class. He is precise and disciplined, and defeats defenders with sharp cuts coming out of breaks to gain separation. He can make plays on every level of the defense, and is a weapon from both the outside and slot. Hamilton is a physical receiver, and will fight for the ball to make the tough reception in traffic. He is a skilled blocker, able to seal the outside, as well as making the key block down the field to spring a big play. Hamilton possesses an excellent feel for zone coverage, able to quickly find the open area. He is very good in the open field, using blockers well and able to find the open running lanes. He performs his best in the red zone and on 3rd downs, consistently converting in the biggest situations throughout his Penn State career. Hamilton's critics are quick to point out that he lacks gamebreaking speed, and to highlight the sharp dip in his production through the middle of his collegiate career. He can struggle to get separation against athletic corners, and doesn't have the extra gear to be a consistent deep threat.
Daesean Hamilton is among a group of wide receivers that are projected to be drafted between the third and fifth rounds. He doesn't have the raw athleticism to set him apart from most of this draft class. What Hamilton does have that makes him special is precision and discipline in his routes, natural leadership ability, and penchant for making plays on third downs and near the end zone. He will make the tough reception in traffic, and can make plays after the catch in the open field. He should be an immediate contributor from the slot, one of the areas that New Orleans struggled last season. Hamilton is a polished route runner, a technician who will improve rapidly as he incorporates himself into a new offense and develops a rapport with his quarterback.