Defense may be the big hole everyone sees for the New Orleans Saints heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, but they aren’t overlooking wide receiver as a position to select from.
The Saints have visited with prospects such as Ohio State’s Michael Thomas at their Pro Day, or actually worked some out like South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.
According to NFL Network’s Rand Getlin, the Saints most recent visit they conducted was with Western Michigan wide receiver Daniel Braverman.
There is a bit of different speculation on where Braverman could end up going in the draft; because according to CBS Sports, they have him going in the late rounds (6-7), while Pro Football Focus has him ranked as a second day pick (3rd round).
Nov 18, 2015; DeKalb, IL, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Daniel Braverman (8) makes a catch against the Northern Illinois Huskies during the second quarter at Huskie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
During his three years at Western Michigan, Braverman steadily improved starting with his freshman year where he had 13 receptions for 135 yards, along with four rushing attempts for five yards and one touchdown.
He was also used extensively that year on special teams; where he returned 11 kicks for 218 yards and averaged 19.8 yards per return.
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Although his 2013 season was derailed due to injury, he came back in 2014 with 86 receptions for 997 yards and six touchdowns, along with six rushing attempts for 58 yards and one touchdown.
He excelled on special teams again that year; and although only returned two kicks, they went for an average of 27 yards a piece.
Braverman kicked it up even further for his final year in 2015, that saw him grab a career high 108 receptions for 1,367 yards and 13 touchdowns.
This past season he was in the top ten for: Receptions (2nd in NCAA, MAC), Receiving yards (3rd in MAC, 8th in NCAA), Receiving TD’s (2nd in MAC, 8th in NCAA), Yards from Scrimmage (5th in MAC), and TD’s from Scrimmage(6th in MAC).
Sep 4, 2015; Kalamazoo, MI, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Daniel Braverman (8) breaks tackle of Michigan State Spartans safety Montae Nicholson (9) during the 1st half of a game at Waldo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, the obvious knock will be on his size; as well as what CBS Sports calls a “disastrous” Pro Day where he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, a 28.5 inch vertical, 112 inch broad jump, 4.2 second 20-yard shuttle and 6.86 second three-cone drill.
CBS’s profile on his Pro Day stated:
"His 40 times and agility scores are adequate at a glance, but not when you note that Braverman checked in at 5-foot-10 and just 175 pounds. The jumps were downright catastrophic, to the extent that Braverman has to consider it a win just to get drafted at this point."
The 40 yard dash time he posted there was surprising,g since Western Michigan’s website says that he is capable of running it in 4.30.
PFF stated like most analysts that Braverman will likely be restricted to the slot receiver role in the NFL mainly due to his size.
Nov 18, 2015; DeKalb, IL, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Daniel Braverman (8) dives for the end zone against Northern Illinois Huskies safety Marlon Moore (2) during the second quarter at Huskie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Yet they did point out that he transitions out of his breaks very well and is “shifty”; which caused him to create 24 missed tackles on 108 receptions.
Another point of interest from PFF that might appeal to lovers (or haters) of the Saints screen game is Braverman was praised for his vision in that area.
He also was noted as only having 11 drops out of 198 catchable passes during his final two seasons at Western Michigan.
The trend has been to go bigger at wide receiver to match up against the almost linebacker-sized defensive backs in the league, but Braverman could be one of those pass catchers that could excel in the creative offense of head coach Sean Payton….