Saints land top receiver in fake Todd McShay draft

We’re more than a month away from the 2022 NFL Draft, but a consensus is starting to emerge for expert opinions on where the New Orleans Saints could go in the first round. Wide receivers run deep in this draft class and the Saints are often expected to take one of the best pass catchers available. In his latest mock draft for ESPN, Todd McShay asks the Saints to acquire Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave. Here is what he wrote of the match:

“The quarterback is super tempting, especially with Liberty’s Malik Willis still sitting on the board. We know Taysom Hill isn’t the answer, but I think Jameis Winston is heading back to New Orleans in free agency and at least putting in place a short-term solution to the Saints’ caller woes. But who is he throwing at? Michael Thomas hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and two of the team’s top three wide receivers as of 2021 — Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harris — are free agents. Olave, meanwhile, is a silky runner with a 4.39 speed and great acceleration – and he scored at least once in nine of 11 games last season. Winston (or whoever finds himself under center) would immediately have a reliable target down.

I can only speak for myself, but for me, Olave is the best receiver in this draft class. His college resume is impeccable: he played in 38 games, scored 35 touchdowns and caught 175 receptions for 2,702 receiving yards. He led the Buckeyes in receiving yards in 2019 and 2020, with teammates Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba enjoying the attention he demanded defenses give him in 2021.

And that production was coupled with a strong showing at the NFL scouting combine in which Olave timed the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds. He’s not the biggest or most explosive receiver around, but the work he’s done to hone his routes and his straight-line speed make him a scoring threat on every down. Olave hasn’t released the extreme relative athletic score that meets New Orleans standards, but he’s pretty close (and he hasn’t finished testing), so don’t think too hard about it.

It’s an ideal pairing for Michael Thomas, who has done his best undercover as the first automatic conversion for his quarterbacks. With defenses focused on protecting Thomas, Olave can fly down. When they react to Olave’s presence, Thomas gets more space to work. Both players win, and it’s worth remembering the relationship Thomas already has with Olave as a mentor.

But hey, it’s March. Free agency hasn’t started yet. We don’t know what the Saints’ top team needs will look like on draft day. If they add a few receivers in free agency, the position becomes a luxury and Olave, or any other wide receiver, may not be considered once New Orleans is on the clock. Maybe the Saints will start looking more closely at quarterbacks, safeties or left tackles if Jameis Winston, Marcus Williams or Terron Armstead leave for better opportunities. We still have a long way to go.


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