- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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I’m ranking the top 20 New Orleans Saints players leading up to training camp. It’s based on their current value – meaning both past accomplishments and potential are taken into account. Think, who would you want on the field most in Week 1 this season?
At No. 19, it’s receiver Kenny Stills.
Profile: Year 2, Age 22, 6-foot, 194 pounds.
Analysis: I was tempted to put rookie receiver Brandin Cooks on this top-20 list ahead of Stills, since I think Cooks will make a dynamic impact right away. But I was swayed by Stills’ performance during OTAs and minicamp, when he looked like a go-to guy for Drew Brees in practice sessions while both Cooks and tight end Jimmy Graham were absent.
Stills is clearly ready to play a bigger role in the Saints’ offense this year now. Last year, he was primarily used as a deep threat, catching 32 passes for 641 yards and five touchdowns – leading the NFL with a whopping 20 yards per catch. This year, Stills’ average should go down, but his receptions should go way up as he runs a wider variety of routes inside and outside.
I could see somewhere around 800 yards and five or six TDs for both Stills and Cooks. But Stills is clearly still high on coach Sean Payton’s priority list.
“He’s someone that after looking at him last year, we have to find a way to get him the ball more,” Payton said during minicamp.