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NFL Draft

Marquez Callaway Has Earned Opportunity To Be Saints’ WR1

  • The Draft Network
  • August 18, 2021
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The current pass-catching situation in New Orleans has quickly become one of uncharted territory for an organization on the heels of four consecutive playoff appearances. However, for second-year talent Marquez Callaway, the former Tennessee Volunteer standout, has a chance to serve as the premier target within an offense in desperate need of an identity.

At 6-foot-2 and a tick over 200 pounds, Callaway by no means jumps off the screen in comparison to teammates Michael Thomas and his herculean, wiry frame, or the stout, speed-laced body of Tre’Quan Smith. Rather, Callaway’s film and a little injury luck have ultimately placed him in an opportune spot to the point this summer where in just his second season he’s found himself in line to serve as the Saints’ WR1.

His story isn’t hard to root for. Entering New Orleans as an undrafted talent, Callaway began his Saints career on special teams using his quickness, agility, and playmaking skills to make a name for himself before ultimately earning the nod to work on the offensive side of the football. Ask anyone around Saints camp this summer; Callaway’s once looked-over skill set has now progressed into a role quarterback Taysom Hill, who’s in a position battle of his own, believes is in a position to make an impact come kick-off.

“This was a kid that when you created opportunities for him, he took advantage of them,” Hill said. “And now Mike (Thomas) is banged up, and he's had an opportunity to continue to step up and more opportunities presented for himself and he's picking up right where he left off.”

And although his first season by no means set the world on fire as Callaway managed just 21 catches good for 213 yards, the start of his second season has raised eyebrows throughout the organization following a productive preseason matchup against the Baltimore Ravens and two of the NFL’s top cover corners in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Callaway made easy work of the two aforementioned talents, amassing three catches for 61 yards on the opening drive for the Saints, showcasing his verticality, strong hands, and RAC ability that he was so well known for during his time in Rocky Top. 

As it stands, the Saints have become a barren well when eyeing talent on the boundary for whoever wins the starting job under center—whether it be Hill or Jameis Winston. With the All-Pro in Thomas out for the meantime, joining Smith and Ty Montgomery who’ve enjoyed their own litany of injuries, Callaway has, by almost process of elimination, progressed into the clear top target in New Orleans—whether he’s ready or not. However, let’s not understate the work Callaway has put in to place himself in the most opportune spot as the Saints’ organizational scope begins to muddy following the retirement of Drew Brees.

“He’s a confident dude,” Saints tight end and 2020 UDFA Juwan Johnson said. “You can see by the way he carries himself and the way he plays on the field — he plays like a big guy. Knowing that he takes on that role of trying to be the No. 1 guy, get open for whoever is behind center, I’m not surprised by it at all.”

Despite Callaway’s journey and heartwarming narrative on his path to the bigs, there’s really no way around it, the Saints’ turmoil at wide receiver with under a month remaining until the regular season remains one of the biggest questions in the sport, within the same offense where a starting quarterback has yet to be named; but, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

For now, and for the near future, the newly assigned No. 1 wideout in the Saints’ playbook has provided the glowing reward not too often seen in today’s NFL. With hard work and a little luck comes opportunity, and for Callaway, he has all the makings of running with what he’s presented with.

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