NFL “Can’t Guard Mike” ⁠— But Can the Saints Get Him Some Help in the 2020 Draft?

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After breaking and then setting the NFL’s brand new record for catches (149) by a wide receiver in a single season in 2019, it’s pretty safe to say that the New Orleans Saints arguably have one of ⁠— if not THE BEST pass-catcher ⁠— in the entire sport of Pro Football in 4th year All-Pro superstar Michael Thomas.

Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, Thomas during the past few seasons has largely had to ‘shoulder the load’ for the team’s offense, since there aren’t any other receivers on the roster who are considered talented or capable enough of truly being a complementary WR opposite to Thomas; as well as being someone who also could help take some pressure off of him while providing another weapon for their passing attack.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the other wide receivers on the current Saints roster has been the lack of their on-field production in support of Thomas, and never has it been more evident in the past two seasons, despite the fact that the Saints have posted an impressive (26-6) regular season win-loss record during that same time.

#2 Saints WR Ted Ginn, Jr. is still one of the fastest receivers in the entire League, but he turns age 35 in April and very notably also has what some consider to be “hands of stone” — and has had a recurring issue with dropped passes that’s followed him throughout his entire 13-year NFL career.

Meanwhile, #3 WR and 2nd year player Tre’Quan Smith has had some flashes of outstanding ability at times, but overall has failed to meet the expectations that the team had for him coming out out of college.

However, some much-needed help for Thomas and the Saints could be on the way, in the form of the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft in late April out in Las Vegas.

Although the Saints will be picking down near the bottom portion of the 1st Round (at #24 overall), this year’s wide receiver class is one of the DEEPEST in many years ⁠— meaning that New Orleans can select one of them while finally freeing up Thomas to produce even bigger numbers and do more damage than he has already.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints on

The bad news for the Saints is that the top-tier WR’s that are coming out this year such as Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III of Alabama, Cee Dee Lamb of Oklahoma, Tee Higgins of Clemson; and Laviska Shenault of Colorado are all expected to be gone by the time that New Orleans will get on the clock with the #24 pick.

But nevertheless: the good news is that this year’s class has enough quality depth of overall talent at the position, for Saints upper management to get a player that can come in and make what hopefully would be an immediate impact.

It’s with that in mind this morning here at Big Easy Magazine, that we look at just a few of the names of some that should still be available at the #24 overall pick; for all Saints fans and loyally-devoted ‘Who Dats’ to watch out for and remember leading up to the draft in late April.

Starting with this young man….


Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics on

The best way to describe the impressive skill-set of TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor is that he possesses both the pure talent and deep-ball speed very similar to that of Ted Ginn, Jr. but unlike Ginn — Reagor can actually CATCH the football cleanly and on a much more consistent basis.

While he has had his own share of dropped passes in his college career (though not at the level that Ginn has had), the 21-year old is a blazing-fast runner with track and field-like speed (4.29) that makes him one of the fastest WR’s in this year’s entire class.

As noted by Draft Network expert analyst Kyle Crabbs, the 5-foot-11, 195 pound Reagor is a devastating vertical receiver with easy speed to blow past defenders, but will have to learn how to run better routes and be more physical (especially as a blocker) once he enters the League.

But as Crabbs also mentions: Reagor’s skill set fits best as a vertical passing threat where he can defeat press coverage, attack down the field and force defenses to respect his speed or pay the consequences. Crabbs adds that Reagor brings explosive burst and separation ability that should make him a quality NFL starter in due time.


While it’s become well-known folklore throughout the ‘Who Dat Nation’ fan-base both locally in the New Orleans area and throughout the state of Louisiana that the Saints rarely (if EVER) draft players from LSU in the early rounds of the draft each year in their entire 53-year existence, this could be the year that changes — thanks to LSU’s emergence in 2019 that eventually saw them win the College Football Playoff National Championship last weekend.

One of the stars on offense for LSU besides starting QB and Heisman Trophy winner (and likely #1 overall 2020 NFL Draft pick) Joe Burrow that will be coming out in late April is junior WR Justin Jefferson; the 21-year old St, Rose, Louisiana native and former Destrehan High School superstar who came on strong in the middle of the season and gave the Tigers offense another weapon in their#1-ranked offense and high-powered vertical passing attack.

Though not quite as polished as fellow WR and All-American Ja’Marr Chase, the 6-foot-3, 192 pound Jefferson had a break-out performance in the Peach Bowl with a 4 touchdown, 14-catch, and 227 receiving yards performance against Oklahoma that put his name among the conversation of some of the nation’s best WR’s.

While some might question whether he should have returned for his senior year, Jefferson still projects as a late 1st Round / early 2nd Round pick and a “big slot” WR with quickness who can also stretch the field vertically if called upon, but just not with the same amount of elite-caliber speed as some of the other receivers in this year’s class have. Draft Analyst Charlie Campbell says that Jefferson has enough quickness to get downfield and challenge defenses and can be a weapon to work the sideline and be a tough wideout to defend on back-shoulder throws, fades and slants. Perhaps more importantly: Campbell adds that Jefferson could be better off as a #2 receiver playing off a #1 WR and taking advantage of single coverage — which is exactly why he could be on the Saints’ radar once they get on the clock with the 24th overall pick.


The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers had what likely was one of their greatest seasons in that program’s entire history in 2019, as they finished ranked in the Top 10 with a (11-2) win-loss record and won the Outback Bowl with an impressive victory over SEC powerhouse Auburn University.

But undoubtedly, they owed much of their success to senior WR Tyler Johnson, who out of nowhere put his name on the lips of knowledgeable college football fans nation-wide with a combination of sneaky and deceptive deep-ball speed and his incredible capability to make insane, one-handed contested catches against some of the country’s top defenders.

The 6-foot-2, 205 pound Minneapolis native had a phenomenal senior season with 86 catches for 1,318 receiving yards along with 13 total TD’s; and he had a career performance in that win over Auburn with 204 yards receiving on 12 receptions for two scores (first with a 73-yard catch and run and then late in the game with a jaw-dropping single-handed grab in the end zone), both which made the highlight reel across all of the various national sports networks.

Trevor Sikkema of the Draft Network says that Johnson has some of the best hands in the class, moves very smooth and can set up defenders well before and after the catch. He adds that Johnson has great body control in the air, and that helps him win consistently at the catch point. He’s never afraid of catching the football in the biggest, critically-important moments or situations— and Sikkema believes that will make Johnson a true “gamer” of a wide receiver at the next level.


We end our early preview of some of the talented WR’s in this year’s 2020 NFL Draft Class that should likely still be available when the Saints pick at #24 overall, with a player that could be the perfect “complement” in the Saints passing attack opposite of Thomas; with Texas Longhorns star Devin Duvernay.

The 5-foot-11, 200 pound Duvernay has track-star like elite-caliber speed (4.32), and while he lines up mostly in the “slot” WR position; the suburban Dallas native possesses the burst off the line of scrimmage at the snap of the football, to make defenders feel as if they were trying to tackle the DC Comics superhero “The Flash”.

As a senior in 2019, Duvernay had his best season in his 4-year college career at Austin; where he was one of the nation’s leaders in total catches (106) and receiving yards (1,386) along with 9 touchdowns. Despite his efforts however, the Longhorns finished with a disappointing (at least in their eyes) win-loss record of (8-5) in the Big 12 Conference and had to settle for a Alamo Bowl appearance and eventual victory over Utah State.

Originally projected as an early-to-mid round selection (2nd through 4th), Duvernay has ROCKETED up NFL Draft Boards and will be playing in the annual Senior Bowl college all-star game next Saturday afternoon in Mobile, Alabama; which means that interested Saints fans will want to watch to get a glimpse of how he performs against some of the nation’s better defensive backs.

Dynasty Football Digest Draft Analyst Joey Haggan makes the observation that Duvernay needs to land in a good spot (with the right NFL team) but that he nevertheless has the size, speed, and strength that can make him a very successful NFL receiver. Haggan adds that Duvernay’s skill-set is VERY similar to that of San Francisco 49ers rookie WR and former All-American Deebo Samuel —  and that his great college production, both in the slot and on the outside,(and the ever-increasing need for slot receivers in today’s NFL) could make Duvernay a hot commodity and ultimately provide him with a productive NFL career.

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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