The Saints have had a long track history of finding undrafted rookie talent that eventually evolves into key players and stars. There's something to the process that bodes well for New Orleans, and they ended up adding 17 after this year's draft concluded. Like we did last season, we'll give some thoughts on the undrafted rookie class coming in and what they could potentially bring to the table.
2022 Saints Undrafted Rookie Free Agents
- John Parker Romo, K, Virginia - At least having a backup plan to Wil Lutz isn't a bad thing. In essence, you don't have to have Lutz go crazy at camp. You can ease him back in the lineup with Romo handling some kicking duties. Remember how bad the kicker carousel was last season? Let's not go through that again. He was 6-of-7 from the 30-39-yard range last season with the Hokies. He finished 18-of-22 last season, missing a field goal from each 10-yard distance.
- Daniel Whelan, P, UC Davis - No one is replacing Blake Gilliikin, so let's not worry about any potential punter battle brewing like last season. Whelan had 20 of his 55 punts downed inside the 20, while 21 of his punts were 50 or more yards. In 7 of his 12 games with the Aggies last season, he had at least one punt over 60 yards.
- Abram Smith, RB, Baylor - He'll turn 24 in September, which is why he might have fell some in the draft process. Not only that, but he flipped to linebacker for 2020 due to injuries, which is pretty interesting, and it actually helped out their program. Smith is a bruiser at running back, setting the Baylor single season rushing record with 1,601 yards in 2022. Having that experience at linebacker could absolutely help him crack the roster on special teams and be a nice compliment in a backfield that has some opportunity.
- Lucas Krull, TE, Pitt - He's a University of Florida transfer with big size to him. He looks to be more of a receiving threat than a blocker. He caught 38 passes last year, finishing with 6 touchdowns. The three years prior he only had 10 total catches. He felt a certain type of way not being invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, and perhaps that attitude can help him move up a crowded depth chart.
- Smoke Monday, DB, Auburn - He's the fan favorite by far after some of his social media videos went viral, particularly the one pertaining to the Falcons. He's a physical safety that had some key picks for the Tigers over his career. He has a lot of C.J. Gardner-Johnson energy and passion to him, but will need to work on some of the coverage aspects in his game on the next level. Put it this way, he's going to be one that's easy to root for. I won't be surprised to see him hit someone in camp that gets some extracurricular activity from it.
- Isaiah Pryor, LB, Notre Dame - He's another hybrid player, listed as a linebacker here, but was a S/LB in college. Pryor followed in the footsteps of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to be their Rover. Like many players looking to crack the roster this year for the Saints, it'll have to be on special teams. Pryor was at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and was a graduate transfer from Ohio State.
- Lewis Kidd, OL, Montana State - There's not a ton of easy accessible film out there for him, but I do want to point out his Draft Diamonds feature. He gives off Michael Brown vibes from last season, someone who is eager to work and will need to adapt and evolve from coaching. The eagerness is there, and he's someone who is just waiting to hit a defender. Montana State had a heck of a rushing attack last season, and he was a reason why. He'll most likely get work as a guard.
- Dai'Jean Dixon, WR, Nicholls State - It's always nice to see a New Orleans native getting a chance. Dixon lacks elite speed, but somewhat makes up for it as a possession receiver. He's one of those just throw it and let him make the play type of players. Getting reps will be key for him in a very crowded receiver room. He undoubtedly has an uphill battle on his hands.
- Vincent Gray, DB, Michigan - His fit looks to be in the nickel. He's a strong tackler who is quick to diagnose. Plays in front of him are where he is the strongest. Gray can defend well against crossers and slants, and isn't phased by much. Where he needs to develop is on the recognition side, as he can get lost in coverage some.
- Nephi Sewell, LB, Utah - Football runs in his bloodline, so there's that. He's a smaller frame linebacker who is going to need to make his way onto the roster via special teams. He gets pushed around a little bit. He was a good college player, but not convinced it will translate to the next level.
- Eric Wilson, OL, Penn State - For starters, he's a Harvard psychology undergrad. He started 12 out of 13 games for the Nittany Lions in 2021, and will likely be used all along all three interior positions on the next level. Strength is his best asset, and he'll need to develop and learn quickly to have a shot to make an NFL roster.
- Rashid Shaheed, WR/KR, Weber State - He's absolutely one of the most intriguing additions from the UDFA pool. He's a true returner, killing the FCS level. His vision is outstanding, and could make Deonte Harty's job a little bit easier. Only time will tell, but he might be the best gem from the undrafted class. He is coming off a ACL injury, but looks fine in the rehab process.
- Sage Doxtater, OL, New Mexico State - Some of the film pops on him, and you can see that his size and frame (6'7", 350 lbs) is what helps him most. He lacks speed, but is a massive presence at left tackle. He held up pretty well against Alabama in his 2021 film, especially going up against Will Anderson Jr. at times. He should be a person to compete for a spot, but could be asked to lose a little weight and put it back on as muscle.
- Joel Dublanko, LB, Cincinatti - He was one of the leaders for the Bearcats, anchoring the middle for their defense for the past two seasons. He has the traits you look for in a linebacker, being fast and physical. He probably has the most upside of any of the undrafted guys at his position, but is going to have to get some versatility and shine on special teams like Andrew Dowell did if he wants to get on the team.
- Derek Schweiger, OL, Iowa State - Played both left tackle and guard for the Cyclones after getting on the squad as a walk-on. Like many offensive linemen, he has the size and skills you want for a big man. What's going to be key for him is how he handles the speed the Saints edge rushers are going to throw at him, or even the push he might get from the interior guys.
- Jack Koerner, S, Iowa - He's a five-year safety who is willing to do whatever it takes to get a shot. His speed at Iowa's Pro Day didn't set the world on fire, but had a good showing there. The Saints had him on his radar, having dinner with them after his Pro Day. He'll be one to simply just watch and see what happens.
- DaMarcus Fields, DB, Texas Tech - It's hard to ignore 11 PBUs in his final season. He's strong coming downhill, and if he could have turned more of the breakups into picks, it may have helped his stock. You have to finish those plays. He has some good zone recognition as well, and his closing speed is nice. He's perhaps more of a hybrid style player who could end up being a role player in nickel situations.
The Saints have a three-day rookie minicamp from May 13-15, and we should have some further access to these players, so stay tuned.
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