I took to Twitter this week to ask Saints fans what the biggest three needs are for the Saints this season. You came through and to no surprise the four most popular answers were Wide Receiver, Interior Offensive Line (preferably with some versatility), Linebacker, and Cornerback. With that, I thought it would be fun to put together a series of some players to watch at each of those position, plus the addition of an author’s choice: Interior Defensive Line.
In this series you will see three names to each position. A day one candidate and two day two/three candidates. The information, based on the fast-approaching NFL Combine this week, you will find will include; what we know about each prospect, what is left to learn, and my most anticipated combine moment for each player. We will start each entry into this five-part series with a quick run-down of the six major combine workouts and what the tell us. Then dive into each position’s three players to watch.
I will mention positional drills and workouts like the Gaunlet, W drill, and the new Figure-8 drill when appropriate although not listed below. Let’s get it.
Combine Workouts and What They Tell Us
|40 Yard-Dash||Broad Jump||Vertical Jump|
|40 Yard-Dash||Broad Jump||Vertical Jump|
|Explosion||Lower body strength||Explosion|
|Center of gravity||Balance||Lower body strength|
|Bench Press||3-Cone Drill||Short Shuttle|
|Upper body strength||Change of direction||Lateral quickness|
|Endurance||Bend/Flexibility||Short area explosion|
|Intangibles||Acceleration/Deceleration||Distribution of weight and power|
Let’s start off with the wideouts. Some major workouts to note: 40-yard dash, Vertical Leap, Broad Jump, 3-Cone, and on-field drills. Yes, I purposely did not write about Justin Jefferson but I promise you, I will do a lot of that later this offseason.
Combine On-field Workout Schedule: Thursday, February 27th. 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM Central. Will workout with Tight Ends and Quarterbacks.
Jalen Reagor, TCU
Combine Measurements: 5’10” 206 pounds
2019 Stats: 43 catches, 611 yards and 5 touchdowns (1 punt return TD)
What to watch: Broad, Gauntlet, Positional Drills
What we know about Reagor: The dude is a burner. He has breakaway speed down field but is also extremely quick coming out of breaks. Explosive off the line of scrimmage. Really showed another element to his game in his sophomore season where he was much more than just a deep threat. This is the type of play style the Saints could really use opposite Michael Thomas. A receiver that can be effective in the short/intermediate areas, packs lots of RAC potential, and can be a deep threat when those shots are ready to be taken.
The former Horned Frog would be a perfect fit in New Orleans right now, but has the skills to continue to be a big time weapon after Drew Brees hangs up the cleats.
What’s left to learn: Reagor’s film, as flashy as it is, does show some faults. Particularly in the hands game. The good news is that usually his drops come from his excitement of getting up the field. Concentration is definitely workable. Watching him in Gauntlet, which is now timed, and position drills should shed some light on this.
Most anticipated combine moment: Reagor’s broad jump might be record breaking. The record for longest broad jump is held by DB Byron Jones who leapt 12’4”. Reagor has the chops to get close if not break the record entirely. For reference, with only a little preparation in high school, he leapt 26-feet in the long jump. 26-feet. It is not insane to think that he’ll hit just under half of that from a stationary leap. That is about three and a half Shaquille O’Neals.
Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Combine Measurements: 5’11 205 pounds, 80-inch wingspan
2019 Stats: 65 catches, 1,192 yards, and 8 touchdowns (
What to watch: Position Drills
What we know about Aiyuk: Jim Nagy, Executive of the Senior Bowl mentioned Aiyuk as a first-round guy. Claiming that teams had him higher than they had N’Keal Harry last season. But he is mostly mocked into the second so I felt comfortable putting him here.Natural field stretcher with great run after catch ability. Becomes a returner with the ball in his hand. Has some good special teams acumen as well, producing well as both a kick and punt returner. Saints are set there with Deonte Harris, but cannot hurt to have another option. Unfortunately for Aiyuk, some of the things he is best at he will not be able to display at the combine. His physicality, his elusiveness, willingness as a blocker, and other competitive elements are most certainly on tape, though.
What’s left to learn: His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and hands catching are the two biggest elements I will be looking for in his position drills and gauntlet. Moreso the position drills. The Saints have dealt with too much inconsistency at the WR position when it comes to catches. What exacerbates those drops is the fact that their simultaneously being spoiled by the endless consistency of Michael Thomas’ hands.
Most anticipated combine moment: Watching Aiyuk display his length. The guy is long and with huge hands for his frame. He will have a chance to put all of that on display in his drills, the 40, and his vert. how well does he manage his length, use it to his advantage, and can he maintain explosion, balance, and flexibility without being thrown off-kilter.
James Proche, SMU
Combine Measurements: 5’10 201 pounds
2019 Stats: 111 catches, 1,225 yards, and 15 touchdowns
What to watch: 3-Cone, Shuttle, 40
What we know about Proche: Hands for days. At just under 5’10” at the Senior bowl he measured better than 9.5” hands. Pretty solid for that size, and his hand size translates directly to his ability as a pass-catcher. He suffered a bit at SMU from bad QB play, but in the NFL if he gets the chance to perform that will be less of an issue. Especially if he were to end up in New Orleans. He is very much of the ilk of fellow SMU Mustang alum Trey Quinn. He can play inside and out, is reliable at the catch point, can run precise routes, and will not get you’re a ton of yards after the catch. But all of the things he does well help to make up for that. Would be an excellent over-the-middle slot weapon in New Orleans, akin to watch they once had in Willie Snead.
What’s left to be learned: What does his athleticism actually look like? He is not going to be the fastest or most agile guy at the combine for sure. But does he display enough of those elements to make you feel comfortable in better on the other things he does technically well? I look forward to seeing his work out of stems in the positional drills, particularly on short and in-breaking routes. Something he needs to show polish or at least potential in before he is a real fit in New Orleans in particular.
Most anticipated combine moment: His agility drills. 3-cone, short-shuttle (should he run it), and even the 40 to an extent. Getting an idea of his athleticism, mobility, and ability to change direction while managing his leverage will be telling.
Check back soon for the rest of the position groups voted on by Saints fans and some names to watch at the combine.