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2019 NFL Draft

The NFL (and the New Orleans Saints) Better Not “Sleep” on LSU Tight End Foster Moreau

Sometimes in life, the one thing that you need to make something that isn't very good become much better, ends up being the one thing that was sitting right there in front of you the entire time — but you just didn't realize it.

And while the New Orleans Saints are currently looking to address the "hole" in their offense at the starting #1 tight end position this Off-Season, yesterday they realized that the help they need potentially might have even been just a 45-minute ride away in Baton Rouge.

That's because of yesterday's performance at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine currently on-going at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, by former starting Louisiana State University tight end and former New Orleans Jesuit High School star Foster Moreau; who put his name into the conversation of the top-tier players at the tight end position for the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft in late April (25 thru the 27th at Nashville, Tennessee).

The 6-foot-4, 253 pound Moreau, who grew up in the local NOLA suburb of Metairie, finished with the 5th fastest time at the 40-yard dash among players at the tight end position, led the shuttle drill for all tight ends at 4.11 seconds, and did a total of 22 repetitions (at 225 pounds) on the bench press.

Additionally, the 21-year old Moreau (who turns 22 in May) also impressed observers and analysts with his performance in a variety of other related drills throughout the work-out, as he managed to turn heads while fully displaying his extremely underrated skill-set.

It goes without saying: the NFL (and the Saints) better not sleep on the popular young local star, who now will be looking to extend his successful playing career at the sport's highest level possible.

ESPN NFL Draft "guru" Mel Kiper had him ranked back in last August as the #4 senior tight end prospect for next month's Draft; but yet even still coming into this weekend, Moreau was considered nothing more than a mid-to-late round pick.

After yesterday however, it's probably safe to say that projection might have been slightly altered just a bit.

Many Saints fans that live in and around the NOLA area of course remember Moreau dating all the way back to his years in high school; when he helped lead Jesuit to the Division I state championship as a senior during the 2014 Season with a 17-14 upset over local "powerhouse" John Curtis. It was the storied local NOLA-area football program's first state high school football championship in 54 years.

Photo courtesy of Jesuit High School Athletic Department

But yet, the former high-school all-star still never received any sort of major FBS (Division I) scholarship offers. He did have options avaiable to attend other schools, such as an offer from Tulane University or a chance to play at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. But he wanted the opportunity to play for a bigger program; and eventually he got the break he was hoping for when then-LSU head coach Les Miles called for him while he was actually taking a shower at his house — and offered him the very last scholarship available. 

“I’ve dreamed about going to LSU my whole life, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Moreau said at that time after he had signed his paperwork making it official. “It was terribly stressful. But then it came down to me having a bunch of great opportunities from a bunch of great places. It worked itself out, so it shouldn’t have been stressful.”

Moreau recently told New Orleans Advocate beat writer Rod Walker that the toughest part was calling the Tulane coaching staff to tell them he would be heading to Baton Rouge, and not coming to play for them at their Uptown NOLA campus.

“It was tough; a tough decision,” Moreau told Walker. “For Tulane to hold that scholarship for me all the way up to signing day really speaks volumes to the type of program it is, and it was hard to turn down.”

But even harder was the fact that Moreau's Mom — Miss Tricia Hotard Moreau — was a former volleyball player for the Green Wave. “I’ll have a little ‘Roll Wave’ in me and the green and blue is in my system, but I think I can pull out some purple and gold,” she said to Walker with a laugh, while recollecting that memorable day.

Photo courtesy of LSUSports.Net

Now Mrs. Hotard and the rest of the Moreau Family will be closely following their beloved son to see what's in store for him next, as his dream of playing in the NFL is about to become a reality.

Talent has never been the issue for Moreau.

But even still coming into yesterday, there were still lingering doubts as to whether or not Moreau could prove to his doubters that he can become as good at catching the football as a receiver, than he already has while establishing himself as a top-notch blocker in the running game.

Clearly, Moreau was NOT given the chance to do that in LSU's rather-conservative, run-first offense.

As noted by NOLA.com college football beat writer Brody Miller: LSU had one of the weakest pass protections in the country last season in 2018, as they allowed 35 sacks; which was easily one of the worst sack rates (#101 overall) in the entire nation at the FBS level.

As a result, it forced LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger to keep Moreau in to pass block more often than he would have liked. and additionally it also forced the LSU offense to run the football a lot more than they had originally planned.

Photo courtesy of Hilary Scheinuk, The New Orleans Advocate

As a senior last season, Moreau only caught 22 passes on 30 targets; but yet he still managed to end up with the highest catch rate of any receiver on the Tigers roster with at least 20 targets (272 yards and 2 TD's).

Miller adds that when LSU was able to utilize him more (like against Rice and Texas A&M), Moreau caught five passes for 73 yards and a touchdown (against Rice) and four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown (against Texas A&M).

Bottom line: Yes, Moreau CAN be an effective player in the receiving game — and began proving it a few weeks ago back in late January at the annual Senior Bowl college all-star game held every year in Mobile, Alabama.

It was there where Moreau became one of the consensus winners of the first South team practice, with an entire handful of well-respected NFL Draft  "experts" and analysts, singling him out on Social Media (Twitter) as one of the most impressive players of the day. After one of his catches, Miller reported that NFL scouts could be heard turning to each other to praise him.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Moreau was named one of the Reese’s Senior Bowl Offensive Practice Players of the Week for his impressive efforts during that time spent in Mobile, and it's a testament to his Off-Season draft preparation process that he has dedicated himself to that quite obviously is already beginning to pay huge dividends.

As Miller noted: Moreau has been working out this Winter on the East Coast (in New Jersey) with New York Jets back-up quarterback Davis Webb, and he feels good about his opportunity to prove to all of the "haters", that he actually can be a legitimate NFL-caliber tight end as a receiver and not just a blocker.

Yesterday's performance in Indianapolis left no doubt whatsoever.

So what does all of this mean for the Saints?

Well, it means that the Black and  Gold now have even more to think about with regard to how they plan to address the tight end position this Off-Season, particularly since this current Draft Class of tight ends is turning out to be one of the DEEPEST tight end classes in recent NFL Draft history.

Photo courtesy of neworleanssaints.com

New Orleans doesn't have a pick this year in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Rounds; and they won't make their first selection until the #62nd overall selection in Round 2.

With the top-rated TE's such as Iowa's dynamic duo of T.J. Hockerson and Noah Fant and Alabama's Irv Smith Jr. all expected to be gone by the time the Saints get "on the clock", the next 'tier' of TE's featuring names such as Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger and Stanford's Kaden Smith, have been linked to the Saints most often.

But Moreau's steady improvement over these last few months is evidence that this year's class is even deeper than first believed; and along with other players yesterday in Indianapolis such as San Jose State's Josh Oliver and San Diego State's Kahale Warring, they've all shown that the Saints won't necessarily be forced to address their need at TE until the Draft's middle rounds.

The Saints have two picks in Round 5 (#168 and #177 overall) — and if they don't decide to address the TE position with their initial pick in Round 2, then you had better believe that if Moreau is still sitting there at that point, he is a viable option to fill the Saints' more-than-pressing need to add some "fire power" to the current TE group on the New Orleans roster.

And could that be any more fitting or appropriate, for a young man that grew up a mere 7 minute drive away from the very Saints Training Facility located at 5800 Airline Drive?

Photo courtesy of Brett Duke, The Times-Picayune

Likely not.

It's the exact reason why the NFL (including the Saints themselves) had better not "sleep" on the still-improving, rapidly-developing and underrated former Blue Jay and Tiger, and his clear-cut potential to become the next underrated college player to achieve eventual stardom in the sport of Pro Football....

 

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Saints News Network Featured Columnist (and Big Easy Magazine's Saints writer) Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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