Auburn special teams ace Eli Stove met with the Saints

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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The Draft Network’s Justin Melo reported Tuesday that the New Orleans Saints are amid a crowd of teams touching base with Auburn wide receiver Eli Stove, one of the more-accomplished special teams players in this year’s draft class. While he didn’t begin handling return duties until his final season in college, Stove lined up at several different spots to cover opposing returns throughout his five-year Tigers career. He’s also ranked fifth-best in the school record books with 136 career receptions and has logged 55 rushing attempts.

Stove tested like a capable athlete, though he didn’t put up any exceptional times while weighing in at 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds at Auburn’s pro day. He did time the 40 yard dash in 4.55 seconds — the same time that Marquez Callaway ran at last year’s NFL Scouting Combine. If Stove were to join the Saints, he’d likely figure to compete with Callaway for a roster spot.

While Callaway endeared himself quickly to Saints fans as a rookie, he was inactive to start the year and initially made it through roster cuts because of what he’d shown in training camp as a gunner in the kicking game. Expectations are higher for him after he made the most of his opportunities with New Orleans’ offense, but it’s in everyone’s interest to bring in competition to push him and make sure the Saints carry the best depth chart possible into the season.

But let’s circle back to Stove. He might not be picked in this year’s draft, though maybe a team trusts its evaluation enough to select him in one of the later rounds. And the Saints could use the help, given the losses their special teams units have taken this season: standout Justin Hardee (215 snaps, fourth-most) departed in free agency, as did Alex Anzalone (180, seventh-most). Craig Robertson, New Orleans’ leader in special teams snaps played (360), remains unsigned. There’s room for someone like Stove to make an impact quickly.