Tre’Quan Smith’s first season in the NFL went as well as one would suspect of a rookie wide receiver, but then again, Saints fans have been spoiled with rookie receivers who came ready to play at an NFL level. Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, and most recently the un-guardable Michael Thomas all excelled in their inaugural season putting up impressive numbers.
However, most wide receivers don’t come out of the gate as hot as the names mentioned above, and instead have seasons that look similar to Smith’s:
- Approximate Value: 5
- Pro Football Focus Rank: 67th out of 117
- Overall Grade: 67.9
- Total Offensive Snaps: 567
Starting off the season slow with only one reception through the first four games, he broke out in week 5 against the Washington Redskins, hauling in three receptions – two of them being touchdowns— for 111 yards. His first touchdown in the game will go down in NFL history forever, as it was on the pass that put Drew Brees at number one all-time on the passing yards list.
With this 62-yard touchdown pass...@drewbrees is the NFL's all-time leading passer! #GoSaints pic.twitter.com/K6vTQVwfOe— NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2018
Through the next three weeks Smith would have a modest 5 receptions for 85 yards, but wouldn’t be targeted in the shellacking of the Cincinnati Bengals in week 10. He was saving up for his best performance of the year the following week.
Against the depleted secondary of the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith reeled in ten passes on thirteen targets for a total of 157 yards. He was able to show the traits one looks for in an NFL receiver. His routes were ran crisply and on time, and he looked to be filling the role Ted Ginn Jr. had in the offense before he went down with an injury.
But in the following weeks, the inconsistency returned. In the Saints’ second loss of the season against the Dallas Cowboys, Smith dropped a pass on a slant route that could have gone for a touchdown and possibly changed the outcome of the game.
The next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he also dropped a pass that could have gone for a big gain, although this week the drop had less of an impact on the outcome.
Missing only one game, Smith had a modest 28 receptions on 44 targets, 5 touchdown receptions, and 427 yards on the season. While he showed positive signs during the season, his inconsistency could make wide receiver a priority in the off-season for the Saints.
Luckily, this year’s draft class is loaded with wide receiver talent that the team may choose to tap into.