Predicting the Saints roster 2018: Wide receivers – (Yardbarker)
The Saints won’t start training camp until two weeks prior to the first preseason game of 2018 on August 9. And cuts to the 53-man roster won’t happen until after the last preseason game on August 30. There’s a lot that can happen between then and now. But Who Dat Dish will attempt over the next several days to begin predicting the Saints 2018 Season roster. Today we look at the wide receivers.
There was a big drop off in production from the Saints wide receivers group in 2017. None of that, however, was the fault of Michael Thomas or Drew Brees. In 2016, it was Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. That year saw those three put up 3,205 yards receiving. In 2017, the top Saints receivers were Thomas along with Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon Coleman. They combined for 2,396 yards and Michael Thomas was responsible for 1,245 of those yards.
A 25-percent drop off in production from this group was a major point of emphasis in the offseason. And the Saints looked to address the issue in free agency and the draft.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about the Saints’ plans for their starting three. Meredith was signed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract. That’s slightly higher than Ted Ginn Jr.’s 3-year, $11 million deal. But Ginn is 33-years old and Meredith is 25.
Tre’Quan Smith, like Meredith, is a deep threat. That’s supposed to be Ginn Jr.’s domain. But, in 2017, he and Drew Brees never seemed to have the same deep ball chemistry that Brees had with Brandin Cooks.
What the Saints are likely considering is Thomas where he’s always been, Smith as the deep threat and Meredith in the slot. But Meredith’s and Smith’s roles could easily switch around.
The Saints will keep, at most, six receivers on the roster. And there are a lot of bodies going into training camp. Ted Ginn Jr. will still be on the roster in a fourth man role. After him there’s Tommylee Lewis, Josh Huff, Brandon Coleman, Travin Dural, Austin Carr, Eldridge Massington, Keith Kirkwood, Paul Turner and Dan Arnold.
There is quite a bit of talent in that group of nine. Tommylee Lewis and Brandon Coleman both know the Saints’ system which gives them something of a bonus. Josh Huff has some in-game experience as well from his days in Philadelphia. Travin Dural will be a fan-favorite having played at LSU and has shown promise in OTAs.
But the guys like Massington and Kirkwood could turn heads in training camp. Both are undrafted rookies picked up this year. Additionally, the Saints brought in Kevin Snead for a minicamp workout. Snead is, supposedly, by hand timing, one of the fastest players to ever play in college. He was clocked running a 4.22 40-yard dash at his pro day.
The easy answer here is that the Saints will stick with Tommylee Lewis and Brandon Coleman to fill out the rest of the receiving corps. Lewis has return ability and Coleman can be a legit redzone threat. But it’s far too early to tell. Any one of these younger players will have their shot to make themselves indispensable.
As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to chicken out and say it’s way too early to say who five and six will be. Much of it will come down to special teams ability. Brandon Coleman doesn’t do much there and that may be his downfall with the Saints. But the receiving corps this year is an embarrassment of riches compared to 2017. And that’s a good spot to be in.
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