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Welcome to the Shaheed show

What does the rookie’s explosive first year mean for the offense?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Many New Orleans Saints fans came into the 2022 season with high hopes for the new and improved receiving core. Veterans Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry along with first-round rookie Chris Olave were going to be a special trio.

But no one blinked an eye at Webster State UDFA Rashid Shaheed.

Shaheed has gone from a “who is this guy” to a “feed him the ball” type of player on the Saints’ offense. Without a firm presence at quarterback, the Saints have leaned on unique skill players for their five wins this season. In multiple games this season, Shaheed has been that player.

His performance against the Falcons was a reminder of his raw talent and ability to make space through his elite speed.

His stats this season won’t win any awards, but his yards-per-catch ratio is simply absurd.

He currently has just 334 receiving yards this season. But with those 334 yards. He has two touchdowns and 15 receptions. That yields a 22.3 yards-per-catch ratio.

To compare that to other rookie receivers, Olave has 14.9 YPC and three touchdowns, Drake London (ATL) has 11.2 yards per catch and four touchdowns, and Garrett Wilson (NYJ) has 14.4 YPC and four touchdowns. These three were all first-round receivers who have played a full season. Shaheed was undrafted and started playing in Week 6.

Shaheed’s presence is not just a “nice little surprise,” it could be a significant factor for the New Orleans offense for years to come.

With the uncertainty of Thomas’ injury status moving forward, hopes for the aforementioned deadly trio of wide receivers have been low. But Shaheed’s presence as a deadly speed demon is not only a great addition, it’s a much-needed piece to the passing attack.

The running game also has a new Deebo Samuel-Esque talent with Shaheed. His talent in the run game has already been evident, the pressure falls on Dennis Allen and Pete Carmichael to figure out how to use him (it’s not that hard, guys).

As Shaheed has just three games left in his rookie campaign, Carmichael should try to find ways to further incorporate the UDFA into the offense. This could potentially set the stage for an even better, heavier-loaded 2023 season for him.

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