Flashback to April 29th: The New Orleans Saints held the 195th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’d already filled some of their positional needs and were looking for another wide receiver to pair with Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and Michael Thomas. There were a lot of receivers left on the board, but one name stood out above them all: A.T Perry.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver from Wake Forest, who was projected to be a third-round pick before the draft started, was still on the board in the middle of the sixth round. Perry was coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard, 10 TD seasons for the Demon Deacons and was still looking for a home in the NFL. Mickey Loomis pulled the trigger and drafted the talented receiver.
Fast forward a few months, and A.T Perry was a healthy scratch for the seventh straight game to begin the season. Finally, in their week eight matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, Perry was made available for the game. He’d only play eight snaps and wouldn’t be targeted, but he got his first game action under his belt.
A couple weeks later, the Saints visited the Minnesota Vikings. Michael Thomas went down early with an injury and A.T Perry was thrusted into a bigger role. He was targeted four times, catching two of them for 38 yards and one touchdown, which came on the miraculous Jameis Winston cross-field throw as the Saints tried to pull off a late comeback. They ultimately fell short of winning the game, but that contested catch gave Saints fans a glimpse of Perry’s skill set.
Perry would continue to get more playing time and would earn his first start in the Saints game against the Detroit Lions - where he’d catch one ball for 30 yards. He would go on to start the next three games for the Saints and would catch four passes for 108 yards over that span.
Perry continued to answer the call when his number was called, showing promise as a downfield threat for this Saints offense. In their week 16 game against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night, Perry made this ridiculous catch for his second career touchdown.
I can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for A.T. Perry⚜️ pic.twitter.com/kpfdPNUFAc— Trizzy Trace (@tracegirouard48) January 25, 2024
Perry was quiet in the Saints win over the Bucs, catching one pass for five yards, but he showed out in the regular season finale. He would catch all three of his targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints capped off the season with a 48-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Perry finished his rookie season with 12 catches on 18 targets (66.7%) for 246 yards (20.5 average) and four touchdowns in just eight games. Perry didn’t get the volume of work to really show out, but he made plays every time he was called upon.
With Michael Thomas’ future with the Saints in doubt, Perry should only earn a bigger role in this offense in his sophomore season. He showed his talent, now he just needs to prove he can produce with a bigger volume of work over the course of a 17-game season.