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The New Orleans Saints Wide Receivers were led by Michael Thomas, who continues to show he’s one of the better young receivers in the league. While he didn’t match his touchdown total from the year before (dropping from 9 to 5), he did set career highs in catches (104) and receiving yards (1,245). Joining him was the resurgence of Ted Ginn Jr., who stepped up in a big way, coming three yards short of the highest total in his 11 year career (787). He blew past his previous career high catch rate of 60.2% in 2008 with a whopping 75.7% in New Orleans in 2018.
Willie Snead was virtually nonexistent in the passing attack for New Orleans after serving an early suspension, finishing the year with only 92 total yards on the season. Tommylee Lewis actually beat Snead’s total receiving yards in 2017 with 116 yards in the air. Brandon Coleman continued to show flashes of productivity, but only finished with 364 yards and 3 touchdowns.
So here’s why they’re better in 2018:
While the Saints lost Willie Snead to the Baltimore Ravens via free agency, it’s not like he was a world-beater for the Saints in 2017. Replacing his 92 receiving yards shouldn’t be too difficult as the rest of the core group of wideouts is coming back for 2018: Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., and Brandon Coleman.
But it’s not like the Saints didn’t add any exciting players to the mix either. Former Chicago Bears WR Cameron Meredith is only 25 years old, the same age as Michael Thomas, and he profiles as a similar receiver. Both are 6’3, and while Michael Thomas has ~10 lbs on Meredith, Meredith is a tick faster with a 4.47 40-time compared to Thomas’s 4.55. While Meredith is coming off a major knee injury, he’s only two years removed from a promising start to his career in Chicago where he 97 balls for 888 yards (with the combination of Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer as his QB). Meredith was asked to be a #1 WR in Chicago. He won’t even be expected to be the #2 receiving option in New Orleans (as he’d be behind both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara in the passing game, most likely).
Then the Saints drafted what SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty called one of the most underrated players in the entire 2018 NFL Draft class in UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith at the end of the 3rd Round. You can see what the Saints are prioritizing with the additions of Meredith and Smith, as Smith is 6’2 himself with a 4.49 40-time. Take a look at some of his highlights from his time with UCF:
From Underdog Dynasty’s draft profile of Smith:
With so many of UCF’s 2017 schemes designed to leave Smith wide open, a lot of the scouts are questioning his route running ability. Despite his 4.49 40, they also say he lacks explosiveness off the ball. With that being said, his game film doesn’t lie. Whoever picks him up is in for a treat and he would be an absolute steal past the 3rd round.
We all know what Drew Brees can do for Wide Receivers. Just look at what he was able to do with Ted Ginn at this point in Ginn’s career. With Ginn, Michael Thomas, and Brandon Coleman, plus the additions of Cam Meredith and Tre’Quan Smith, the New Orleans Saints have a big, young (aside from Ginn), and talented group of pass-catchers that could wreak havoc on opposing secondaries in 2018.