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New Orleans Saints offseason WR room investments meeting the moment

New Orleans Saints offseason WR room investments meeting the moment

Throughout the 2022 offseason it became increasingly clear that the New Orleans Saints were headed in a different direction at premium positions than in the past. Since 2017, the Saints had owned a total of 21 top-100 draft selections. Of those, only 10 had been invested in what are defined as “premium” positions. That designation applies to positions that have the greatest opportunity to affect the ball on any given play: quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, edge rusher and cornerback.

Wide receiver was a highlighted focus for the team this offseason, coming off of a 2021 campaign wherein the Saints were ranked last in the NFL in passing yardage and third-lowest across the league when it came to passing attempts. It’s clear there’s a different mentality in New Orleans now, however.

Headlined by the return of All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas, the Saints added a top-100 draft selection from 2014 in Jarvis Landry and invested a hefty amount of assets from this year’s draft in first-round pick Chris Olave. These investments at wide receiver were expected to have a growing impact throughout the 2022 NFL season. But it took until only the fourth quarter of Week 1 to see the potential of the revamped group.

The three receivers combined for 212 receiving yards against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints’ wide receiving corps never surpassed mark once in 2021. The new trio nearly did so in one quarter alone. To Thomas, it’s just the top of the iceberg for the unit. “I feel like that was just just a little taste,” Thomas told us after the win. “If you ask me and the guys from the receiver group, we’d probably say we didn’t get started until the second half.”

The group’s additions didn’t stop at the players on the field, either. The Saints moved on from long-time wide receiver coach Curtis “CJ” Johnson. To fill the void, they hired Kodi Burns from the college ranks. After spending years helping to develop several drafted receivers with Auburn and Tennessee, Burns has been highly praised within the Saints facility.

Landry, a nine-year NFL pro, told me what he believes makes Burns a unique talent: “Kodi’s definitely been taking me back to the details, to the fundamentals of the position,” the receiver said. “Back to the releases, things to work on as a player. He’s been picking up things in my game that I can improve on.”

That’s high praise from an experienced receiver like Landry. And it’s not…

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