Saints look to develop dynamic and talented rookies – Camden News

Training camp is a huge opportunity for players to battle for their spots on the team and get better, but they are especially tough on the rookies just starting their NFL careers.
On Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints will host their rookie training camp one week before veterans come in to practice.
The Saints have a talented and deep rookie class this season that were brought in during the 2022 NFL Draft and through free agency with undrafted players. New Orleans drafter five rookies, including two in the first round. Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave and Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning lead an impressive and talented rookie draft class for the Saints.
Both Olave and Penning are projected to be starters for the upcoming season if they do not let up in effort or productivity. The other 19 rookies this season have to prove their worth, starting at the rookie training camp on Tuesday. They could become surprise starters, secure regular season roster spots or land a position on the practice squad roster if they are cut.
Olave will be a dynamic weapon for the Saints’ offense that ranked 32nd (last) in the league in passing yards per game (187.4). In 11 games last season for Ohio State, Olave caught 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns. He will be a receiver that can play outside and slot receiver in several unique packages for the Saints’ offense.
The Saints tried their best to re-sign three-time pro-bowl offensive tackle Terron Armstead, but did not have enough salary cap space for him. They found his immediate replacement in Penning, set to start at left tackle. Penning only gave up one sack, four quarterback hits and six quarterback hurries in the 2021 season.
New Orleans will also rely on the depth and dynamic abilities of former Stanford Cardinal cornerback Alontae Taylor. He was the first player the Saints drafted after of the first round; he was picked up with the 49th overall pick (second-round). Taylor can easily be included in some dime packages with multiple defensive backs on the field.
Linebacker D’Marco Jackson and defensive end Jordan Jackson are young defenders the Saints drafted in later Draft rounds. They will be playing behind some veterans who could be playing other positions on defense. Jackson accumulated 119 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, six sacks, five pass breakups, one forced fumble and one interception last season to earn Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
The Saints have other rookies who could find themselves being reliable role players despite being undrafted free agents. Former Montana State guard Lewis Kidd is the only undrafted player, outside of special teams, that is projected to be within the first three groups on the roster. Former Baylor Bears running back Abram Smith had a big breakout season in 2021 as he rushed for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns on 257 carries. If he has a similar explosive production in training camp practices for New Orleans, he could find his way climbing the depth chart.
Linebacker Nephi Sewell was a dynamic and highly productive linebacker for the Utah Utes for the past two seasons. Last season, Sewell accounted for 89 total tackles, 54 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, one interception and one forced fumble. He was an honorable mention for All-PAC 12 this past season. His brother, Noah Sewell, is a 2020 Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-Pac 12 this past season for the Oregon Ducks. He is the 18th best prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft according to Shane Hallam of Draft Countdown. He could be a player that the Saints target next year.
Former Auburn Tigers defensive back Smoke Monday is a player that can climb his way up the depth chart after finding himself undrafted. In the past two seasons at Auburn, Monday accounted for 136 total tackles, 85 solo tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions and eight pass breakups. Monday is currently slated behind newcomer Tyrann Mathieu and 2021 All-Pro J.T. Gray at strong safety. If the Saints decide to have Mathieu and Gray start, that could give Monday an opportunity to take the backup safety role for the Saints this season if he has a great rookie and regular training camp for the next few weeks.
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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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