New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas suffered a severe ankle injury in the 2020 season opener that not only limited his effectiveness the entire year, but limited the entire New Orleans passing attack. Thomas, who had led the NFL in receptions in 2018 and 2019, played in just seven games and was a shadow of his dominant self.
Without their record-breaking receiver, veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders took on the role of the team’s number one wideout. Former undrafted receivers Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris both showed potential, but the position failed to consistently make an impact all year.
Sanders was released this offseason. Thomas is back to full health and is joined by the promising Callaway and Harris, along with Tre'Quan Smith and two other undrafted players in Juwan Johnson and Lil'Jordan Humphrey. Most analysts believe that receiver is among the team's top needs as they head towards the draft.
Legendary quarterback Drew Brees retired during the offseason, with Jameis Winston favored to take over the starting job. The accuracy of Brees covered up some deficiencies at the receiver position over the years. New Orleans could look to provide Winston with more weapons through the draft.
The Saints may use their early round choices to address some defensive needs. They've had success adding quality receivers who went undrafted or as late round picks. A projected mid-round selection who was overshadowed by other offensive stars on his own team in college is the subject of today's draft spotlight.
TREVON GRIMES, WIDE RECEIVER (FLORIDA)
Pro Day 40m = 4.49
A five-star football recruit and state hurdle champion at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida, Grimes chose Ohio State out of several suitors. He’d transfer after just one redshirt season with the Buckeyes, coming back to his home state.
Grimes appeared in every game of the 2018 season for the Gators, catching 26 passes for 364 yards and 2 scores. He established himself as a starter in 2019, hauling in 33 receptions for 491 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Overshadowed by fellow Gator offensive studs Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney, Grimes still made an impact for Florida in 2020. He recorded 38 receptions for 589 yards and caught 9 touchdowns, all third best on the team. In 36 games at Florida, he caught 97 passes for 1,444 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Grimes was productive in a loaded Florida offense but was never a primary focus, benefiting from extra attention to Pitts and Toney. He must greatly improve his route precision at the next level. Better route precision would increase his ability to get separation, something he struggles to get with athleticism.
Grimes tends to lumber in the open field and doesn't have a quick change of direction. He struggles to escape from press coverage despite his size. His ability to track down a deep throw in mid-air is only average, and he appears hesitant as a deep receiver.
One of the most physically imposing receivers in this draft class, Grimes uses his body well to shield defenders from the throw. He is excellent on back shoulder throws and has outstanding body control. His background as a hurdler is evident on the football field. Grimes has rapid acceleration in the open field and a long stride that makes it hard for shorter defenders to keep pace.
Grimes has excellent hands and a wide catch radius that makes him a reliable option for quarterbacks through the intermediate zones. His leaping ability and strength give him the advantage on contested throws. His combination of size and speed will make him a mismatch for many defensive backs, even at the NFL level.
Trevon Grimes has the prototypical size that New Orleans coach Sean Payton has always preferred in wideouts. His underrated athletic ability gives him a big upside as a mid-round pick if he can sharpen his route running precision.