The New Orleans Saints boast one of the best wide receivers in the National Football League in Micheal Thomas. The third year pro had his third consecutive 1,000-yd. season in 2018, increasing his statistical output in each campaign. The 26-yr. old Thomas led the NFL in receptions last season, a franchise record 125, for a team record 1,405 yards and 9 touchdowns. The numerous team and league records that Thomas has set not only last year but for his first three years of production overshadowed the fact that the Saints passing attack was not nearly as diverse as we have seen in years past. Quarterback Drew Brees is a master at spreading the ball around, stretching defenses to their breaking point. Other than Thomas and dynamic running back Alvin Kamara though, the other weapons within the New Orleans did little to establish themselves as consistent threats to opposing defenses. Veterans Ted Ginn Jr. and Cameron Meredith will be returning from injury, while the team also expects big improvements from 2nd year players Tre'quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood. The Saints may still want to bring in another weapon for their Hall of Fame passer early in the draft though, and could possibly look to a familiar well of talent in Columbus, OH to do it. The Ohio State Buckeyes have provided talented players on both sides of the ball for this Saints squad, and this year's version has again littered mock drafts with names, including the subject of today's draft profile.
Terry McLaurin, WR (Ohio State)
McLaurin joined THE Ohio State University after a standout career at Indianapolis Cathedral High School, where he was named Indiana's "Mr. Football". He appeared in six games as a freshman and did not register a catch, but did establish himself on special teams, where he would make a mark throughout his collegiate career. He started 4 games in 2016, catching 11 passes for 114 yards and two scores. McLaurin's improvement continued as a junior, catching 29 balls for 436 yards and six touchdowns while starting every game. Named a team captain in both 2017 and '18, McLaurin had his best statistical output as a senior, registering 35 receptions for 701 yards, 11 touchdowns while leading the Big Ten in yards per catch.
McLaurin has skyrocketed up many draft boards since the end of the college season due to a strong performance at the Senior Bowl and his postseason workouts. He blazed a 4.35 in the 40-yd. dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, the third best among wideouts and the sixth best among all participants, while a 4.15 second 20-yd. shuttle ranked fifth among wide receivers. His 37.5" vertical leap, 125" broad jump, and 7.01 second 3-cone drill were above average, but McLaurin really turned heads with his performance in on-field workouts. He dominated many of his 1-on-1 matchups during the Senior Bowl, and surprised some scouts with his ability to excel at the entire route tree.
McLaurin is a polished and sharp route runner who is particularly physical in short and intermediate patterns. He operates very well through zones, showing good knowledge of opposing coverage packages. McLaurin has excellent concentration and secures the ball into his body well, allowing him to make the big catch in traffic. He has quick feet, and his ability to run detailed routes are often enough to beat press or man coverage. McLaurin also shows an extra gear in the open field to gain separation deep. He continues to work through coverage in order to present an open target for his quarterback on broken plays, and doesn't shy away from contact after making the reception.
McLaurin has good track speed, but is a bit of a long strider and doesn't show instant acceleration on film. He's a below average blocker in the run game, and must show more willingness to mix it up. He doesn't have natural hands, so struggles to snatch the pass out of the air or win high point battles.
Terry McLaurin may not have gotten the notoriety or be quite the gamebreaking threat that teammate Parris Campbell was at Ohio State, but could be a more versatile weapon. McLaurin will be an instant contributor on special teams as an athletic and aggressive gunner, and should be a favorite of his new quarterback due to his crisp patterns. Likely solidifying status as a 2nd round selection, like Thomas, McLaurin's work ethic and ability to excel at each level of the defense could mean similar success.