You may have heard of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway before. In four years playing with the Tennessee Volunteers, Callaway brought in 92-catches for 1,646-yards and 13 touchdowns.
Not much production from a four-year receiver, perhaps lending some credibility to why he went undrafted in the first place. However, lack of production doesn’t equal lack of potential, and the New Orleans Saints saw something in the speedy receiver adding him to the team as an undrafted free-agent.
So, what did they see? Well, if they saw what Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network saw...
“Speed is the name of the game for Callaway. He’s used mostly as the Vols outside wide receiver, and his quick feet and long speed prove to be valuable along the sideline. He’s the kind of player who deserves to be on an offense that could utilize him more, as Tennessee is just not very good at getting the ball deep down the field. Can make some crazy catches with both one and two hands. Great when catching through traffic in the air.” - From Sikkema’s NFL Draft Profile on Marquez Callaway
At 6’2 you’d think any receiver with that height and speed to go with it would be a threat. However, at just 190 lbs, he gets beat up by more physical defenders at times. The Saints have him listed at 204 lbs which will help him take on NFL defensive backs, if accurate.
The big news coming out of Saints training camp of course was the news Callaway had made the active 53-man roster, with Evan Winter of Rocky Top Talk writing,
“An excellent camp helped Callaway earn a spot on the Saints’ 53-man roster. An undrafted free agent, Callaway was likely considered a long shot before camp begin. But that’s neither here nor there, anymore.”
On our weekly ‘Crossover Thursday’ episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast, I asked Locked On Saints Podcast host Ross Jackson what to expect from young Callaway.
In response, Jackson mentioned the differences between Callaway and Emmanuel Butler who is no longer with the team, and the things Callaway does that Butler did not which helped him land on the active roster.
While Butler had some nice offensive production last preseason, his ultimate stock with the team fell due to his lack of ability to impact the game on special teams and his shortcomings as a blocker. Callaway was a near 180-degree opposite in training camp showing he could contribute as a blocker and on special teams now, while possessing offensive potential for the future.
“Yeah, (Callaway) made some plays with the offense. (He) particularly developed a nice relationship with Jameis Winston,” Jackson said. “...when it came down to what it is that allowed him to make the roster though, it had everything to do with what he did in the special teams game where he made a lot of plays and really popped on tape...”
Special teams contributions are important for any young player trying to make an active NFL roster, but even more so when you’re an undrafted free-agent. It’s obvious at this point Callaway made his name for the Saints on special teams, and earlier in camp New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talked about the undrafted rookie, saying,
“There’s been glimpses, you know. He’s got speed. He had a few snaps today where you see it in special teams. He’s certainly has the ‘want-to’, he’s obviously learning at a quick pace.”
Lost in the mix of Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Tre’Quan Smith will be first-year wide receiver Marquez Callaway. If you notice him, he’ll probably be on special teams. If he’s on offense, he’ll be the tall guy with speed trying to further prove he belongs in the NFL.
With so much attention paid to the ‘big names’, it’s the lesser known names who can sometimes hurt you the most. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are very familiar with the starters in New Orleans, so kicking off the series this year I wanted to bring you a new name we’re not very familiar with. If you didn’t know him before, you do now, and you know the New Orleans Saints just a little bit better because of it.
Check out more of what Ross Jackson of the Locked On Saints Podcast had to say about the Week 1 match-up between New Orleans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on this Crossover Thursday episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast!