New Orleans Saints 2022 Rookies To Watch

NEW YORK, USA – MAY 28, 2018: Rows of american football balls in NFL Experience in Times Square, New York, a first-of-its-kind live action attraction, combining interactive games and 4D theatre.

New Orleans Saints 2022 Rookies To Watch

Top Three Rookies

The Saints head into the 2022 season with playoff aspirations. Typically, the top draft picks are the ones to watch out for. With this year’s Saints team, that edict has never been truer. Let’s take a look at the top three rookies for the Saints’ 2022 season:

Chris Olave (11th overall pick): When looking at this offense the past few seasons, one thing has lacked: a solid number two wideout opposite of returning 2019 Offensive Player of the Year, Michael Thomas. The Saints were uncharacteristically aggressive in the draft moving into the first round, trading their 16th, 98th and 120th pick for Washington’s 11th overall pick to snag the young Buckeye out of Ohio State. With the addition came arguably the most polished route runner available. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael will have a field day coordinating with Thomas, Olave, and free agent Jarvis Landry. Look for Olave to have open looks downfield with teams keying on Thomas and Landry. I project 1,000 yards and five to eight touchdowns connected between quarterback Jameis Winston and New Orleans’ newest offensive weapon.

Trevor Penning (19th overall pick; injured): Losing a former All Pro left tackle like Terron Armstead isn’t ideal. Magnifying that is the fact that the left guard, incumbent Andrus Peat, hasn’t proven to be a consistent presence. Veteran tackle, James Hurst, was set to start but Trevor Penning, the rookie out of Northern Iowa, played himself into the role. When Penning went down with a torn ligament in his foot in the preseason finale versus Los Angles, it landed him on the injured reserve for a month, possibly longer. When he does return, expect a nasty streak from a guy who plays through the whistle. Penning is also hyper aggressive, and penalties may be an issue until his technique is solidified, but there’s a lot to like. With Penning, Peat, Caesar Ruiz, and Ryan Ramczyk, the Saints now have four first round selections on their offensive line (center Erik McCoy is the lone second rounder listed as a starter on the depth chart). Penning will experience growing pains, particularly because he’s coming from a lower level of college football (an FCS school) and recovering from injury, but expect him to establish himself as a solid run blocker if nothing else this season.

Alontae Taylor (49th overall pick): As contract extension talks with defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson fell through and he was ultimately sent to the Eagles, Taylor became that much more important to the team’s plans. He has the ideal size/speed combo in a cornerback that teams like. Whether it’s press or off man, cover two or cover three, Taylor has proven he can thrive. Playing at Tennessee, he was matched up against a plethora of future NFL talent and managed to hold his own. At the combine, he ran a 4.36 40-yard dash and has shown on film that he’s capable of keeping up with receivers down the field. His size and length help him stay with and break up passes from larger targets. Look for Taylor to get some time playing in the slot corner position when Tyrann Mathieu is at safety. Primarily, he will begin contributing on special teams and eventually work his way into more playing time in sub packages, mainly when teams choose to go with four or five wide looks. If he can step up and grab hold of the nickel corner spot, that’ll enable Mathieu to freelance which takes advantage of his skillset best. Further along in his career, I can see Taylor being a boundary corner. For this season, let’s see how he develops in the slot.

Each of these guys have unique qualities that make them valuable. Olave’s route running, Penning’s athleticism & nasty streak, and Taylor’s size/speed combo. Mixing them in with the existing talent will provide a safe cover as they aren’t expected to be Pro Bowl caliber players from day one. The lone exception would be Penning since he’s replacing a former All Pro, but his injury will setback his timeline. By season’s end, we should see three very good football players with bright futures in the black and gold.

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