Behind-the-scenes photos from the Ochsner Sports Performance center as the New Orleans Saints' made two selections in the 2022 NFL draft.
The Saints traded up from the 16th spot with the Washington Commanders to select Olave, a record-setting receiver out of Ohio State, with the 11th selection. Penning, a 6-foot-7 tackle from Northern Iowa, was waiting for them at the 19th spot. It was the 24th time in the past 16 drafts that the Saints have made a trade to move up. Saints Coach Dennis Allen said Thursday night that the team thought there might be a run on receivers so they traded up "to get the guy we wanted."
"I think this was a hell of a night for us," Allen said. "Felt really good about what we were able to accomplish.. They are our type of guys. They're Saints. They're tough, they're smart, they're competitive. They are great team players."
The Saints sent their 16th pick and the 98th and the 120th picks to the Commanders to select the 6-foot-1, 189-pounder from San Ysidro, Calif. Olave caught 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns in his senior year with the Buckeyes. In his four-year career he had 176 catches for 2,711 yards with 35 touchdowns. Olave is the first receiver the Saints have drafted in the first round since Brandin Cooks in 2014.
"They are going to get everything I have," Olave said.
Olave will join another former Buckeye in the Saints' receiving room, Michael Thomas, a second-round pick in 2016.
Allen said Olave was a player the Saints liked during the entire draft process and were impressed with his route running and how he was able to transition out of his breaks. "He's the only guy I felt like I knew exactly what we'd get," Allen said. " ...(He's) the best, most well-rounded receiver in the draft."
Penning, a 6-7, 325-pounder from Clear Lake, Iowa, was the only lineman who was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the nation's top offensive player. He started all 12 games in 2021, his redshirt senior season, and was named to numerous All-America teams. The Saints have an opening at left tackle after longtime starter Terron Armstead signed with the Miami Dolphins in the offseason. If Penning does start at left tackle the Saints will have used four first-round picks and one second-round pick (center Erik McCoy) on the unit. Allen said Penning will compete for the job and no one should pencil him in as the starter, although he does like his demeanor.
"This guy is big, tough, nasty," Allen said. "Plays our type of football. We were ecstatic he was sitting there when we got to pick at 19. ... We see a skill set we like and a mentality that we like."
Penning said he was excited to join the team. "I'm ready to compete and win us a Super Bowl."
Allen said size is important in the NFL. "Big, strong, long athlete," Allen said of Penning. "Getting a guy with that size is ... good for us."
The Saints have the 49th pick in the draft Friday. The second round starts at 6 p.m. and you can watch it on NFL Network or ESPN.