Of the 12 wide receivers currently on the New Orleans Saints roster, seven have a year or less of NFL experience.
The veterans of the group, Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Courtney Roby, each have eight years of experience while Joseph Morgan and Preston Parker have seen valuable experience in wideout rotations in New Orleans and Tampa Bay respectively.
Among the seven young wideouts are the team's fifth round selection in last April's NFL Draft Kenny Stills and last year's fourth-round pick Nick Toon. The other five wideouts - Jarred Fayson, Chris Givens, Saalim Hakim, Brent Leonard and Andy Tanner – are all undrafted free agents looking to make a name for themselves later this month at the start of camp.
With the departures of mainstay deep threats Robert Meachem (signed with the Chargers in 2012) and Devery Henderson (signed with the Redskins in June), one exciting battle in training camp will be to find QB Drew Brees' next deep threat that can help the offense remain one of the league's top units.
Three intriguing names to keep an eye among the young wide receivers are Morgan, Stills and Toon.
Last season, Morgan established himself as dangerous deep target in his first full season on the field after missing his rookie season with a knee injury. While appearing in 14 games with five starts, the former undrafted free agent from Walsh University hauled in 10 passes for 379 yards (37.9 avg.) and three touchdowns.
Stills comes to New Orleans following a three-year career at the University of Oklahoma where he established himself as one of the nation's top deep threats. Utilizing his outstanding body control, balance and quick second gear to stretch the field and get behind defenders, the California native left Norman ranked fourth in school record books in receiving with 204 receptions for 2,594 yards (12.3 avg.) with 24 touchdowns.
Toon was placed on injured reserve (foot injury) prior to the start of the 2012 regular season. The former University of Wisconsin standout appeared in two preseason contests for the Black and Gold before being placed on injured reserve. The tall, sure-handed target will compete for a spot in the New Orleans receiver rotation after a standout college career, where he followed in his father Al's footsteps, who left as the school's leading receiver in 1985 and became a three-time Pro Bowl wideout for the New York Jets. In his time at Wisconsin, Nick surpassed his father, Al, by recording 171 catches for 2,447 yards and 18 touchdowns to finish ranked in the top five in all three categories.
Sean Payton on the wide receiver competition (June 5, 2013):
"When you have to start looking at the receiving position, there is a lot of competition there. Some of those little things can help a guy make a team. A guy can come out and cover a kick, and then we have a vision for how many snaps he can play in a game. But hopefully that will be an area we can be better at, number one overall as a group."
Drew Brees on the wide receiver competition (June 4, 2013):
"I think we've got a great group of young receivers that really all have a chance to make their mark and find a place in that group. You've got Marques Colston and Lance Moore, who are the two veteran guys left. Joe Morgan coming off what he did last season and now what we've seen this offseason, I see him continuing to improve. Beyond that I think it's wide open in those spots left. Andy Tanner is a guy that's been here for a while that continues to impress. Kenny Stills is showing a lot of promise. He's a young, talented guy. All those guys understand that they are going to get some opportunities and they have to make the most of them and see how they can fit into this offense. At the end of the day we don't know how it's going to shake out but there's a lot of time between now and cuts at the end of (training) camp. Whoever earns those spots will deserve it."