With the start of training camp almost 2 months away, the New Orleans Saints find themselves entrenched in phase III of the offseason workout program, known as Organized Team Activities or OTA’s. The best thing about OTA’s is that its the only football action between the NFL Draft and training camp. Live contact is not allowed during OTA’s, making it very challenging to evaluate players, especially the newly acquired rookies. OTA’s are certainly not a replacement for live football, but its a nice taste for those of us not interested in Hockey or the 3 month long NBA playoffs. No one proves that judging a player in OTAs is unreliable more than Marques Colston.
Marques Colston, a wide receiver from Hofstra University, was drafted in the 7th round at pick 252, only 4 picks from being Mr. Irrelevant, a nickname reserved for the last player to be selected. Colston showed up at New Orleans Saints headquarters for his summer minicamp so overweight and out of shape, no one even thought he would make it to training camp, much less earn a roster spot on the team. By the time Colston finished his stellar 10 year pro career, he had not only helped the New Orleans Saints to win Super Bowl XLIV, but would finish as the New Orleans Saints’ all time leader in receiving yards, yards from scrimmage, receiving touchdowns, total touchdowns, and total receptions. Colston had hands like glue, there were only a handful of players in league you would rather have on 3rd down or near the end zone.
This years version of Marques Colston, could very well be Travin Dural, the undrafted free agent wide receiver from LSU. Dural who was not highly recruited out Breaux Bridge High School, despite being regarded as the top wide receiver in Louisiana, finished a solid 4 year career at LSU with 100 receptions, 1,716 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns. Dural is certainly capable of showing the flash and skills needed to be a receiver in the NFL, his lack of production at LSU can be attributed to their inept offense, noted by the firing of the head coach and offensive coordinator. 2014 was his best year, as it was for the LSU offense overall, he had 37 receptions, 758 yards, and 7 touchdowns. If Dural’s best football is in front of him, he could be a valuable member of the New Orleans Saints’ receiving corp for years to come. Since he’s an undrafted free agent he could be a New Orleans Saints receiver for several years at a bargain basement price.
Ted Ginn Jr.
Ted Ginn Jr. is far from a rookie, he’s about to begin his 12th season in the NFL. To put that in perspective the average length of an NFL receiver’s career is less than 3 years. The word from OTA’s is that he is still flashing the same speed as when he was originally drafted out of Ohio State, leaving 3rd year corner PJ Williams in the dust on more than one occasion. Ginn hasn’t always been known as great ball catcher, however his last 2 seasons with the Carolina Panthers he caught 14 touchdowns, more than his previous 9 seasons combined to go along with over 1,400 receiving yards. Now that he is teaming up with Drew Brees, a first ballot hall of famer and one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, its a good bet that he will at least match his numbers from the past 2 seasons. He is replacing speedster Brandin Cooks who was mostly relied upon as a deep ball threat last season in order to stretch the defense, which will be key to opening running lanes for veteran running backs Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson. Ginn was also brought in to bolster a special teams return game that has dwindled near the bottom of the league for the past few seasons. If he isn’t an instant upgrade in the return game he should at least be able teach one of the younger guys how its done.
By: Aaron Goldberg