Sean Payton's New Orleans Saints will enter the 2021 season in uncharted territory. For the first time since 2005, the year before Payton took over, the Saints will start the season with someone other than Drew Brees at quarterback. Brees ended his illustrious career this offseason, announcing his retirement after 20 amazing years.
Jameis Winston, the first overall pick of the 2015 draft, will likely be behind center to start 2021. Winston will have some talented weapons around him. Running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas are among the league's best at their respective positions. Former undrafted wideouts Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway showed great promise in 2020 and will be counted on for bigger contributions. Wideout Tre'Quan Smith provides experienced depth, and second-year TE Adam Trautman will have an expanded role in the offense.
The Saints may add at least one more receiver to Winston's arsenal with one of their eight picks in this week's NFL draft. Receivers from the University of Southern California have always done well at the NFL level, even with the program's recent struggles. Today's draft profile highlights their latest receiving prospect.
AMON-RA ST. BROWN, WIDE RECEIVER (USC)
Pro Day 40m = 4.51
NFL.com Comparison (Lance Zierlein):
Keelan Cole (Jaguars)
Brother of Green Bay Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Amon-Ra was first-team High School All-American at Mater Dei High School in the Los Angeles area. The Trojans managed to keep him close to home, where he made an immediate impact as a true freshman in 2018. He led USC with 60 receptions, and his 750 receiving yards finished second on the team.
St. Brown was second only to 2020 2nd round choice Michael Pittman on USC in receiving in 2019. His 77 receptions for 1,042 yards and 7 offensive touchdowns earned him honorable mention All-PAC 12 recognition. He was the unquestioned number one receiver for the Trojans in a 2020 season shortened to six games by the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Brown responded to the added responsibility by leading USC with 41 receptions for 478 yards and 7 scores last season. He led the PAC-12 in receptions and receiving touchdowns, good enough to get him 1st team all-conference honors. He finished his three year Trojan career with 178 receptions for 2,270 yards and 17 touchdowns over 30 games.
Amon-Ra St. Brown won't beat many defensive backs with his speed and must continue to perfect his route precision to win matchups at the NFL level. He could overpower some cornerbacks in college, but must get stronger to play that style against bigger corners.
Possessing just average burst out of his breaks, St. Brown must sharpen his routes even more to gain separation. Without an extra gear in the open field for deep routes, he has to make most of his receptions on contested catches.
A lumbering runner, St. Brown doesn't gain many extra yards after the catch. He’s a poor run blocker who must improve his technique and effort in that category to earn a coach's trust in short yardage.
St. Brown could be one of the best route runners in this draft class. He has nice upper body movement to slip press coverage and disguises his routes well. His breaks are crisp and smooth, giving his quarterback an immediate target on timing plays.
St. Brown has outstanding body control and the leaping ability to win most contested throws. He plays stronger than his listed size, uses his body well to shield defenders, and has strong hands to secure a reception in traffic. Adjusts to the ball extremely well in mid-air, with the savvy to consistently find open areas against zone coverage. His physicality, hands, and route precision makes him a consistent threat near the goal line and on 3rd downs.
Amon-Ra St. Brown has shown the capability to be effective as both an outside and slot receiver. His best fit early on will be from the slot, but he has the route precision to be successful against any corner once he learns an offensive system.
He isn't a deep threat to consistently take the top off defenses. What St. Brown will provide is a consistent intermediate target, able to beat defenders with reliable hands, polished routes, and physicality.