The New Orleans Saints have searched for a speedy deep threat complement to All-Pro WR Michael Thomas for the past four years. Veteran Ted Ginn Jr had some success in 2017. Tre'Quan Smith, a 3rd round choice in 2018, has shown no consistency throughout his career. Former undrafted receivers Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris have both flashed exciting potential, with bigger things expected in 2020.
Veteran Pro Bowler Emmanuel Sanders was also added last offseason. Sanders was expected to team with Thomas to give QB Drew Brees a formidable duo of wideouts. Those plans were derailed when Thomas suffered a serious ankle injury that sidelined him for nine games and slowed him all season.
With Thomas limited, Sanders would be the team's top wideout option most of the year. He would be released this offseason, leaving Smith and former undrafted players Harris, Callaway, Juwan Johnson, and Lil'Jordan Humphrey as depth behind Thomas.
The Saints will also have a new quarterback under center to start the 2021 season. Brees retired, most likely leaving Jameis Winston to take over the job. New Orleans could draft a quarterback with an early draft choice along with filling some defensive needs. They may also use a draft pick to give their new quarterback an additional weapon to work with.
Today's draft spotlight profiles a player that comes from a pass-heavy Big 12 program.
TYLAN WALLACE, WIDE RECEIVER (OKLAHOMA ST)
Pro Day 40m = 4.39
NFL.com Comparison (Lance Zierlein):
Nate Washington (retired)
Tylan and twin brother Tracin were both recruited by Oklahoma State as four-star prospects out of South Hills High School in Texas. Tracin's career ended after three ACL injuries in two years. Tylan played in every game as a true freshman in 2017, but caught just 7 balls for 118 yards.
He stepped into the starting lineup in 2018 and was highly productive for the explosive Cowboy offense. Wallace had 86 receptions for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns. He led the Big 12 in both receptions and yardage, finishing with the second highest yardage total in FBS. That earned him 1st team All-Big 12 and 2nd team All-American recognition.
Wallace suffered an ACL injury of his own midway through the 2019 season. Despite playing in just eight games, he still caught 53 passes, scored 8 touchdowns, and led the Big 12 with 903 receiving yards. He bounced back from injury nicely, pulling in 59 catches for 922 yards and 6 touchdowns in ten games during the 2020 season. His four-year career with Oklahoma State concluded with 205 receptions for 3,434 yards and 27 offensive scores. He finished with the ninth most receiving yards in Big 12 history.
The ACL injury could scare some teams, but Wallace looked strong in 2020. He’s a lean receiver that could struggle against bigger defensive backs on contested throws or freeing from press coverage. Wallace faced little top-notch coverage in the Big 12, so he’ll have to prove he can handle that at the NFL level. He’s shown good production down the field, but lacks the sudden burst to keep defensive backs from giving him a cushion on shorter routes.
Wallace is a well-refined route runner who can threaten a defense at every level. Comes off the line aggressively and disguises his routes well to fool coverages. He runs all his patterns at top speed, and his crisp cuts at the top of his routes create separation.
Wallace has terrific hands and concentration in traffic. He tracks the ball in mid-air and adjusts to off-target throws well. That and his excellent body control will lead to spectacular catches and gives him a big advantage on contested throws. He’s a silky smooth athlete that will get separation but will also excel in close quarters.
A former teammate of recently signed WR Jalen McClesky at Oklahoma State in 2017 and 2018, Wallace can be effective lined up outside or in the slot. He presents an immediate target off the line of scrimmage, secures a catch quickly, and is an aggressive open field runner.
Tylan Wallace isn't one of the bigger names in the draft at the receiver position. He has proven capable of running the entire route tree effectively and has excellent hands to give his quarterback a trusted target. Wallace should be an immediate threat to attack at the second and third levels of defenses. He also has the route running ability and versatility to develop into a top-level number two wideout quickly.