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Breaking Down The Saints Talented Wide Receiver Group

Emmanuel Butler

New Orleans entered training camp with a lot of questions at wide receiver. As practice continues and we begin to get a better understanding of the team, multiple players have proved themselves as realistic options for the season. Now, the Saints face a good problem to have, too much talent at the wide receiver position.

Michael Thomas
Analysis: The Saints made Michael Thomas the highest paid WR in NFL history on a 5-year, $100 million deal. Thomas has received multiple awards in first three years, inducing AP All-Pro first team honors in 2018. He should continue his success moving forward in 2019.
Strengths: Elite route running, great hands, able to make defenders miss after the catch.
Weaknesses:
Possible Role: Clear #1 wide receiver. Can move from the outside to the slot, will see the majority of targets out of all wide receivers.
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Lock

Ted Ginn Jr.
Analysis: Only played in 4 regular season games in 2018 before injuring his knee. Ginn returned in Week 16 with a 5 reception 74 yard game. The Saints offense saw a dip in passing production with Ginn out. He is an important piece to the Saints offense.
Strengths: Fast receiver who poses a problem for defenses in the medium and deep passing game.
Weaknesses: Occasional drops.
Possible Role: Deep threat and #2 outside receiver. Can open up the field for other pass catchers when he’s not making a direct impact.
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Lock

Tre’Quan Smith
Analysis: Tre’Quan Smith finished 2018 with 28 receptions and 427 yards. He saw an elevated role with Ted Ginn injured, but was inconsistent during that time. Coaches and fans hope to see development from Smith coming into year two.
Strengths: Can win in tough situations, flashed talented route running and downfield speed. Good at using his size in blocking.
Weaknesses: Bad release off the line, small catch radius.
Possible Role: #3 outside wide receiver
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Lock

Keith Kirkwood
Analysis: Kirkwood joined the Saints as an UDFA out of Temple. Played in a limited role in 2018, but was able to put up 209 yards and 2 touchdowns. Flashed a lot of potential in training camp and preseason last year.
Strengths: Big frame that he uses to win in contested situations. Showed a lot of talent in his short playing time. Really good downfield blocker. Versatility to play from the outside and the slot.
Weaknesses: Still very raw, average speed and needs to develop as a route runner.
Possible Role: #3 outside receiver or #1 slot receiver
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Very High

Rishard Matthews
Analysis: A seven year NFL player who has seen the field on multiple teams. Matthews was very productive before going on injured reserve with a hamstring injury in 2018.
Strengths: Has played in both the slot and on the outside. Despite having average speed can be a deep threat. Can make tough catches outside of his immediate range.
Weaknesses: Coming off a second injury, he could struggle to bounce back to his old self. Could improve as a route runner.
Possible Role: Slot receiver and depth on the outside
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Fighting for a spot on the team

Emmanuel Butler
Analysis: Butler has been this seasons camp hero so far. He did suffer a minor injury, but he’s expected to return soon. He saw a dip in production in 2018 at NAU, but mostly was due to the offense and not Butler personally.
Strengths: Good size and able to use his arm length to make tough catches. Deep threat who can pinpoint passes. Good at putting himself in position to make catches before the ball arrives.
Weaknesses: Still very raw, didn’t play against talented competition in college. Below average speed.
Possible Role: Depth player seeing limited snaps while developing
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Fighting for a spot on the team

Simmie Cobbs Jr.
Analysis: Cobbs joined the Redskins as an UDFA in 2018. Saints went on to steal Cobbs off their practice squad. Saints coaching staff are high on him and he’s flashed a lot of talent.
Strengths: Good body control and size. Has an expansive route tree and can track down passes. High IQ player.
Weaknesses: Slower receiver which leads to him having trouble getting separation on cornerbacks.
Possible Role: Depth player
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Fighting for a spot on the team

Austin Carr
Analysis: Claimed by the Saints in 2017, but has failed to do much since. Sean Payton speaks highly of him but talent doesn’t always show on the field. Caught 2 touchdowns in 2018 and added 97 receiving yards.
Strengths: Good hands and a threat in the middle of the field
Weaknesses: Below average speed for a receiver with a small frame. Bullied by NFL cornerbacks at time.
Possible Role: Depth as a slot receiver
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Last chance to prove himself

Lil’Jordan Humphrey
Analysis: A priority UDFA who many thought would be drafted. Declared after his junior year, going over 1,000 yards and catching 9 touchdowns.
Strengths: 6’4″ and a redzone threat. Able to catch high passes and very fluid with his movements.
Weaknesses: Extremely slow, ran a 4.75 40-yard dash. Drops catchable passes.
Possible Role: Slot Receiver or Practice Squad
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Not Likely

Deonte Harris
Analysis: A division II prospect from Assumption College. Averaged 29.5 yards per kick return his senior season. Harris was most likely brought in as a return specialist.
Strengths: Extremely fast and agile. Has good vision on returns and can make defenders miss. Can return both kicks and punts at a high rate.
Weaknesses: Small receiver who has played against weak talent. Very raw as a receiver.
Possible Role: Kick/Punt Returner
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Would have to make it as a returner

Cyril Grayson
Analysis: Louisiana native and impressive track star at LSU. Spent time on the Seahawks, Bears, and Texans before returning to his home team. Limited tape on him due to not playing college football.
Strengths: Extremely fast receiver who can be a deep threat in the passing game. Very high ceiling and can be developed into a legitimate threat at wide receiver. 4.33 40-yard dash.
Weaknesses: Lack of experience, raw talent due to not playing college football.
Possible Role: Depth Player, Punt Returner, or Practice Squad
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Fighting for a spot on the team

Travin Dural
Analysis: Another Louisiana native who signed to the Saints as an UDFA. He’s had a hard time developing after spending 2018 on injured reserve with a broken humerus.
Strengths: Plays faster than his 40-yard dash would indicate. He can move from the outside to the slot. Good at catching the ball in stride and gaining extra yards after the play.
Weaknesses: Occasionally drops easy passes and has an injury history.
Possible Role: Depth Player
Probability of Making 53 Man Roster: Unlikely