The Saints' affinity for Ohio State products continued on Thursday night at the 2022 NFL Draft.
New Orleans traded with the Washington Commanders to move up to the No. 11 pick and spent it on Buckeyes receiver Chris Olave.
Washington received the Saints' No. 16, 98 and 120 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft in exchange for the No. 11 overall pick. The Commanders used their new first-rounder on Penn State wideout Jahan Dotson.
New Orleans wasn't done adding to its offense with Olave as it later drafted offensive tackle Trevor Penning at No. 19 to replace the departed Terron Armstead.
Olave joins teammate Garrett Wilson as the second Ohio State star to hear his name called on the first night of the draft, and he only had to wait mere minutes to follow his teammate onto the Las Vegas stage and make it back-to-back Buckeyes selected after the Jets took Wilson at No. 10. Olave dominated during his 2022 NFL Scouting Combine workout, excelling in testing and wowing viewers with his on-field drills, capping an excellent college career that began as a surprise freshman playmaker for the Buckeyes and carried through his final season in Columbus.
The two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection set a career record for receiving touchdowns during his time with the Buckeyes, finding the end zone through the air 35 times between 2018-2021. He saved his best for last, finishing with a career-high 13 receiving touchdowns in 2021, leading the Big Ten and earning second-team All-American honors.
The biggest knock on Olave is his size. As NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recently noted, Olave stands at an average height and carries a lean frame, but he uses that to create space with excellent speed and fluidity throughout his routes, which Jeremiah described as "surgical."
The home-run-hitting Olave will look to do just that with the Saints. He'll have to get familiar with quarterback Jameis Winston, but should fit in nicely with a receiving corps that also includes Michael Thomas, Marquez Callaway and Tre'Quan Smith. Thomas, a fellow former Buckeye, had a feeling he'd be welcoming another Ohio State product to the Big Easy.
They'll hope to help the Saints reestablish the explosive offense they've been missing since the retirement of Drew Brees.
Penning fills a huge need left by Armstead, who signed with the Dolphins in free agency.
Big and mean and ready to contribute early, Penning didn't receive the same fanfare as other tackles in this draft class, but he has the size, length and intelligence to transfer to the NFL.
A 6-foot-7, 325-pounder who was an AP FCS All-American as a senior, Penning was NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's No. 20 prospect following a year in which he allowed just one sack, according to Pro Football Focus.
There are some questions regarding his knee bend and quickness and consistency against power rushers, but Penning's mean streak and overall game made him a riser in the pre-draft process and are likely to lead to him making an instant impact.