He was not quite Mr. Irrelevant, but Kawaan Baker was drafted by the New Orleans Saints at pick 255 in the 2021 NFL Draft. Baker spent his college career with the South Alabama Jaguars. The Saints had not drafted a receiver the past two years and almost went a third year without taking one. The Saints saw enough athleticism in Baker to select him with their final pick of the draft.
Saints select Kawaan Baker in the seventh round
Kawaan Baker enters the NFL with all the measurables any organization could hope for in a receiver. Baker is 6-foot and 210 pounds. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the South Alabama pro day. Baker’s relative athletic score was a 9.08 out of 10, which compares measurables against other players at the same position. Baker’s bench press, vertical jump, and broad jump were all over 9.0. His hand-size also comes in at 10.5 inches. Many NFL teams value hand size since the NFL ball is slightly larger than a college one. For comparison, this is the same size as Michael Thomas’ hands. A player with this much athleticism is sure to mean different things to different Saints players. Let’s examine the potential winners and losers of the Kawaan Baker draft pick.
Winners of the Kawaan Baker selection
Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are winners of the Kawaan Baker draft selection. Baker brings explosiveness and size to the wide receiving unit which was lacking a combination of both. Baker is capable of playing both the outside and slot positions as well as running back. If Michael Thomas can impart some receiving wisdom on Baker, the Saints quarterbacks will have an upgrade of weapons at their disposal.
Another potential winner of Baker being drafted is Deonte Harris. Harris was the go-to for kick returns and gadget plays last year. Harris was used by Sean Payton more and more in the normal offense as the season progressed. Kawaan Baker has handled special teams returning in his collegiate career. Baker taking over this role would allow Sean Payton to utilize Harris more in the offensive scheme.
What will Kawaan Baker’s role eventually be with the Saints?
This poll is closed
Special Teams/Kick Returner Only
Third Receiver/Special Teams
Starter at Receiver
Losers of the Kawaan Baker Selection
The eventual loser of the Saints drafting Kawaan Baker could be Tre’Quan Smith. Smith had his opportunity last year to shine with injuries to star wideout Michael Thomas. Unfortunately, Smith was unable to prove himself capable of handling this spotlight. He had four drops on the year on just 50 targets with only 34 receptions. Smith’s 448 receiving yards on the season were his career high but he also started 10 games, the most of his career. As Smith enters the final year of his rookie contract, Kawaan Baker’s athleticism and upside could make him expendable.
More losers: NFC South cornerbacks. The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not been heavily regarded as having great corners the past couple of years already. If the Saints develop the athleticism of Baker into a pass-catching threat, the NFC South defenses will have issues defending the Saints passing attack. The Panthers adding Jaycee Horn does upgrade their corners greatly, but if the Saints were to have three or more pass-catching weapons on the field at a time, defenses will have a hard time adjusting.
Saints draft first receiver in three years
Kawaan Baker marks the first Saints receiver drafted in the past three years. Seventh-round selections are generally not thought of as difference makers in the NFL, but the Saints have track records of developing offensive weapons that slipped through the draft process. Marques Colston and Pierre Thomas come to mind as forgotten players who went on to be contributors for Sean Payton. One thing is certain, Payton and the Saints staff will put Kawaan Baker in the position to succeed with the team.
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