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Saints' Chris Olave Eyeing Historic Rookie Season

Saints News Network on FanNation 11/30/2022 Bob Rose

Rookie WR Chris Olave has proven well worth the investment by New Orleans and is nearing one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.

Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints were in desperate need of a wide receiver. The Saints made a pre-draft trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, swapping their Number 18 choice and future picks for the Number 16 and 19 selections.

Then on draft night, they traded that 16th pick and future choices to Washington to move up to Number 11 overall. 

Oct 30, 2021; Ohio State Buckeyes receiver Chris Olave (2) hauls in a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by Saints News Network on FanNation Oct 30, 2021; Ohio State Buckeyes receiver Chris Olave (2) hauls in a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

With that 11th choice, New Orleans drafted WR Chris Olave out of Ohio State. Olave was the third wideout selected after a four-year Buckeyes career of 175 receptions and 2,702 yards. He left Ohio State as the school's all-time leader in touchdown catches, third in receptions, and fifth in receiving yards. 

Olave was expected to be an immediate contributor in an offense that included Pro Bowlers like RB Alvin Kamara and wideouts Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. Instead, he's emerged as the offense's most consistent threat. 

Thomas was lost for the season after Week 3 with a foot injury. Landry missed five games of his own with an ankle injury and has been relatively ineffective. Kamara's production has been inconsistent all year. 

Despite excess defensive attention, Olave leads the Saints with 56 receptions for 822 yards on 92 targets. He's had three 100-yard outings, two more of over 70 yards, at least three catches in every game, and five or more receptions in five of the last six contests. 

Olave’s production not only has him among the top candidates for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but could end with perhaps the best rookie season in New Orleans franchise history. 

Eleven different players have had a 1,000-yard receiving season in Saints history. New Orleans has had just 26 1,000-yard receiving campaigns in their 56-year existence. 

Olave is on pace for 79 receptions and 1,167 yards this season. Only two other rookies have ever had a 1,000-yard season in their first year with the Saints -- Marques Colston in 2006 and Michael Thomas in 2016. Thomas holds the rookie franchise record with 1,137 yards.

New Orleans Saints receiver Chris Olave (12) against the Arizona Cardinals. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by Saints News Network on FanNation New Orleans Saints receiver Chris Olave (12) against the Arizona Cardinals. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Olave’s projected receptions would also be the fourth best for a rookie in franchise history behind only Thomas (92), Reggie Bush (88, 2006), and Alvin Kamara (81, 2017).

The 4-8 Saints have a ton of personnel questions this offseason. A poor finish may even cause them to part with several of their established stars. Whether they choose to rebuild or merely retool their roster, it's clear that the impressive abilities of Chris Olave will be a huge part of the future in New Orleans.

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