Well, we made it through the 2022 season. A season of highs and lows, mostly lows, but a few highs. Some of the best highs occurred through some of the team’s newcomers, some of which were drafted last April. Let’s take a look at how the New Orleans Saints’ draftees performed this season.
Chris Olave - Round 1, Pick 11
If you watched a Saints’ game this season, you know that Chris Olave was essential to this offense, from the very first to the very last game of 2022. He recorded 1,042 yards, four touchdowns, and 72 receptions this year. He finished the season with the second-most receptions amongst rookie receivers and the most yards per game in the rookie class (69.5).
Having Olave in the offense is one of the few and most comforting elements regarding the Saints’ future. It is clear that the Saints have added a dynamic piece to the passing attack. He’s gone above and beyond as a rookie wide receiver. He gets an A+.
Chris Olave says transition to NFL wasn’t an issue for him pic.twitter.com/BRpMCLQXWs— NOF (@nofnetwork) January 9, 2023
Trevor Penning - Round 1, Pick 19
There were a lot of questions surrounding Loomis’ decision to draft Penning. Could he make an immediate impact coming from an FCS school just a year ago? Was he agile enough to block in the NFL? In the brief six regular season and three preseason games we saw, Loomis appears to have made the right call.
It’s tough to grade Penning based on the limited playing time we have seen. But he seemed to hold his own for most of his time after returning to the offensive line. We saw his aggressive and tenacious blocking capabilities in training camp, and he appears to be setting himself up for a promising career. Recent news surrounding his foot injury and upcoming surgery is troubling, but if all goes to plan, he should be back in time for training camp.
Source says Trevor Penning’s recovery will likely take 5-6 months. Back around June. Not ideal but possible he doesn’t miss all of the offseason program.— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) January 9, 2023
Alontae Taylor - Round 2, Pick 49
Coming out of Tennessee, Taylor entered the Saints’ backfield as a potential deep piece at cornerback. Through some unfortunate injuries and simply outperforming veterans on the roster, Taylor quickly assumed a vital role on the defense. Suddenly, he found himself going head-to-head with some of the best receivers in the league including Devonte Adams, George Pickens and Allen Robinson.
For the most part, Taylor not only stepped up to the plate, but he also excelled in the CB1 and CB2 role. There were several games where typical rookie flaws were exposed, but for the most part, you can’t expect much more from a second-round rookie. The Lattimore-Taylor duo could be absolutely menacing next year.
D’Marco Jackson - Round 5, Pick 161
Grade: N/A (Season-long Injury)
MLB D’Marco Jackson out of Appalachian State was placed on injury reserve Aug. 9 with an undisclosed injury. He would have potentially been a nice depth piece to the linebacker room, which makes his untimely injury so unfortunate.
He apparently made a couple of nice plays early in training camp prior to his injury, according to John Hendrix. Let’s hope he can rebound and have an impressive off-season.
Jordan Jackson - Round 6, Pick 194
The Saints’ final pick of the draft was Jordan Jackson, a defensive tackle out of Air Force. Jackson was given plenty of opportunities to make the team. Out of every defensive tackle on the team this preseason, Jackson led the group preseason game snaps with 80.
It sounded like a pretty harsh decision, but he was never able to impress the coaching staff enough to earn his spot. He was however, signed to the practice squad right before the season and is apparently still with the team.
The future pic.twitter.com/HYX1cpQbyn— NOF (@nofnetwork) January 10, 2023
Rashid Shaheed - UDFA
Shaheed wasn’t a part of the 2022 draft class as he was signed as an undrafted free agent. But it would be a disservice to this up-and-coming star to not discuss his rookie season. In just one week, a loss against Arizona, he became a crucial and explosive piece of the passing attack.
It should be noted that his presence as a pass catcher is not the only impact he has had on the team. He has assumed a role as a reliable punt and kick returner and a viable run option. As to why we didn’t see him used as a runner more, I have no idea. Hopefully, next year’s offensive coordinator will better utilize his running ability and expand his role in the offense.
Which rookie had the biggest impact this season?
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Which 2022 rookie do you think will have the biggest improvement next season?
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