Two can’t-miss NFL Combine standouts that fit with new Saints QB Derek Carr
With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books and the New Orleans Saints solving their quarterback problem by landing veteran passer Derek Carr, the Saints can turn their attention to free agency and the NFL Draft.
While free agency stands to answer a lot of the questions New Orleans has about its roster, the draft presents some exciting opportunities to add young talent. Carr was in Indianapolis, the site of the Combine visiting with teams, but might he have passed a future teammate in the halls or around the event’s campus?
There are some clear fits that the Saints could invest in in the offensive side that would make a ton of sense with Carr. Looking back at the offensive weapons he has produced with in the past, similar molds can be found and might be worth a shot for New Orleans.
Here two can’t-miss prospects the Saints could look to add to Carr’s arsenal that would also improve their attack on offense.
Georgia TE Darnell Washington
Back in 2019 and 2020, Carr was widely successful when targeting his favorite pass-catcher, tight end Darren Waller. Two-straight 1,000-yard seasons with 12 combined touchdowns, Waller was getting set up to be the next big thing. But then, injuries began impacting his game. For the two years that followed, Walker’s production dipped and Carr’s interceptions rose as he didn’t have the same sure-handed and dependable target.
Enter Washington. Waller stood tall at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds while dominating his combine with a 4.47 40-yard dash and excellent explosive metrics in their vertical and broad jumps. Washington enters the NFL at 6-foot-7 and 264 pounds. While his 40 time was not as impressive as Walker’s (4.64u), he had an impressive 10-yard split (timed first 10 yards of his 40-yard dash) at 1.57 which tied for second in the 2023 class and ran the best 20-yard shuttle 4.08 at his position since 2012.
Otherwise known as the “short shuttle” the drill measures the ability to change direction and quickness in confined areas. Both are important metrics for tight ends who have to operate in condensed middle-of-the-field situations.
Waller has compiled a career catch rate in the NFL of 69.8% (70.8% with the Raiders). Similarly, Washington brings with him a completion percentage of 69% over his last two years with the repeating national champion Georgia Bulldogs. He’s a big, safe target that can block and contribute in other factors in the field. Pairing him up with tight end Juwan Johnson could create a marquee tight end duo that feasts on mismatches and outclasses competition while providing targets Carr can rely on in safer areas of the field.
Texas RB Bijan Robinson
By all accounts, Robinson is a more athletic prospect than Carr’s recent teammate: running back Josh Jacobs. His athletics testing at the Combine was outstanding. His 4.46 40-yard dash, 37-inch vertical leap and 10-foot-4 broad jump show his speed and explosiveness at the position.
Like Jacobs, though, Robinson’s game is far from being one-note. The Texas Longhorns back is sure to be the first running back off the board in April’s draft because while he can run between the tackles with efficiency, he has the speed to capture the edge, is a reliable receiver out of the backfield and can even line up at receiver if asked.
Robinson is also a solid pass blocker, making him an asset that defenders must account for downs one through three. He may need to be a first-round pick for the Saints, which would be the chagrin of many draftniks who don’t believe running backs should be drafted in the first round (I also subscribe to that concept). But even with that, it’s clear to see the value of what Robinson could bring to the Saints and to Carr having a similar skillset to Jacobs.
This is also a big way to solve the ongoing concern of the position for New Orleans. Star running back Alvin Kamara may be missing at least six games in 2023 as his legal process continues. Plus, New Orleans has only one additional back on its roster in Eno Benjamin.
Robinson is someone that could be a workhorse in place of Kamara and in rotation with Benjamin, he could be a real asset in tandem with Kamara and could even prove to the future at the position for the Saints.
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Ross Jackson has been the host of the daily Locked On Saints podcast, covering the New Orleans Saints since 2018. Since then, his host role has expanded to include co-hosting Locked On NFL on Tuesdays with a focus on in-depth analysis on the biggest stories across the NFL and fantasy football. Ross is also a contributor for Saints Wire, part…