Saints WR Brandon Coleman Will Need To Battle For His Job This Offseason


As the New Orleans Saints head towards OTA’s, mini-camps, and then eventually the grind of training camp; the one position that will be of interest to see is the competition that will be at wide receiver.

Sure there will be the contests involved in other areas of the team, but this wide receiver group for the Saints is one that could be a battle as the weeks roll by.

There are obviously a few players going into this though that should come out ‘unscathed’; such as Brandin Cooks, followed by Willie Snead and recent draft pick Michael Thomas.

While I realize it’s presumptuous to give Thomas the nod before he’s even put a Saints uniform on yet, I don’t think that Sean Payton would select a wide receiver that high if he didn’t plan on him sticking around for a while.

Ok, let me put it another way since we all know how Payton is with admitting mistakes even if Thomas isn’t a phenom — he WILL BE making the roster, end of story.

With the departure of Marques Colston it leaves a clear gap to be filled with a fifth spot up for grabs as well.

Dec 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) is congratulated by head coach Sean Payton after he scored a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

You would assume that Brandon Coleman would be the likely choice to fill Colston’s spot since he’s next man up but that is one that I won’t get presumptuous with, for several reasons.

Big Easy Believer editor Barry Hirstius recently wrote about Coleman as being on “the bubble” going into 2016, and I’d have to agree.

Let me say that I don’t think Coleman is a horrible player nor do I think that it’s a case of that he can’t do it — but if you didn’t hold your breath everytime whenever a pass was thrown at him this past season, then you’re kidding yourself.

The one thing more than a few have noticed about him is at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Coleman doesn’t seem to be as physical as you’d like him to be in regards to going after a football and reeling it in from a defender or on occasion, even from himself.

In the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals last year, it looked like he had begun the process of climbing the ladder with a catch and score where he gave the effort that looked to elude him in some spots before.

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) dives to score a 12 yard touchdown as Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (20) defends during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

After that though, his receptions dipped in the coming weeks; and starting in Week 3, his receptions for the next nine games to an average of 0.8 a game (and yes: I actually rounded that number up, just to be kind).

That lead to the running joke going into the end of the season that Coleman would show up for his obligatory one catch a game and then fade back into the lineup.

Of his 30 receptions for the season, Coleman caught 16 of those in the final five contests, averaging 3.2 per game.

Normally you’d think Payton would simply bench a player that was so up and down, but he likely sees what we all hope is there for Coleman — which is potential.

I think much like former first round cornerback Patrick Robinson, it’s simply a confidence issue with Coleman that is keeping the proverbial switch from being turned on .

Robinson was a player that oozed the talent of becoming an elite “lockdown” corner for the Saints, who could have been a fixture in the secondary for some time to come; but aside from several injuries, he was shuffled around the field until he was essentially phased out.

Jun 11, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson (21) during minicamp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Could Coleman be the now cliched “heir apparent” to Marques Colston?

Maybe, but he could also be the new heir to the Nick Toon-throne (remember him?) that was built on more potential and broken dreams than the Iron Throne on ‘Game of Thrones’ was built on melted-down swords.

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And on the Toon note, I’ll take any “man, Coleman is catching everything” training camp updates with a grain of salt (with no disrespect to any of my Saints beat writer friends) — because we’ve seen how that’s played out before.

Not that Coleman hasn’t had this before, but there’ll be some competition for Colston’s old spot as well as his own place at the Saints wide receiver table going into camp.

The Saints have brought another receiver back to attempt to gain another big bodied threat in Kyle Prater (6-foot-5, 228 pounds), who they had in last year as an undrafted free agent.

Prater has been looking for a second chance in the NFL after being released by the Saints last year after he was injured in preseason; and if you’ve kept up with his social media account you can see he’s been working hard to get that second chance and is extremely motivated, to say the least.

Aug 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kyle Prater (86) celebrates after catching a pass for a first down during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in a preseason NFL football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore Ravens defeated New Orleans Saints 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There has also been speculation since Colston’ release that the Saints were looking to bring in a veteran and names like Anquan Boldin danced on the brains of Who Dat’s.

But it could be most likely a more familiar name like former Saint Robert Meachem who recently came in for some physical testing where he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.48 seconds.

“Not bad for an old man!”, in my best Danny Glover Lethal Weapon voice.

Sep 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem (17) lines up against Cleveland Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert (21) at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns defeated the Saints 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Making it even more a possibility we may see the return of Meachem, is that the same report stated that he would return this month to run through a more extensive workout, presumably either at the rookie mini-camp that starts on Friday, or at OTA’s beginning on May 24th.

Next: Ranking the NFC South's Top 5 Rookies for 2016

Add to the mix plenty of old and recent undrafted free agent signee’s like R.J. Harris, Jared Dangerfield or Jordan Williams-Lambert, and this wide receiver group competition will be fun to watch.

For Coleman though, the process to ascend to not only being a great receiver but a trusted one for the Saints won’t be fun but more of an all out battle this offseason….