He knows that he requires a bit more polish, as does every potential and actual NFL player. Refinement is needed, and Travin Dural diligently will be working on his craft as he attempts to make an imprint.
But one thing Dural already knows he can do, is this: He can run fast.
That might not have appeared to be the case last season, Dural’s final one at LSU, when the senior caught 28 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown. Ten yards per catch is rather pedestrian for a deep-threat receiver.
But the two years prior, when Dural caught a total of 65 passes for 1,291 yards (19.9 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns, suggest that 2016 was an outlier and that Dural is more than capable of stretching defenses.
As it happens, the New Orleans Saints likely have a need for such a player, and the undrafted rookie hopes to be able to help fill it.
Brandin Cooks, the team’s main deep threat the previous two years, was traded to New England. That created a void that partly will be filled by free agent signee Ted Ginn, Jr., who totaled 98 catches for 1,491 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final two seasons with Carolina. Among New Orleans’ returnees, second-year receiver Tommylee Lewis (seven catches for 76 yards), an undrafted rookie last year, possesses the most deep speed.
So Dural, a Breaux Bridge native, quickly accepted the Saints’ offer to try to begin his NFL career two hours away from his hometown.
“It’s the best fit for me,” Dural said. “I had the chance to meet the coaches at (LSU’s) pro day, and again at local day (a regional combine in New Orleans), and that played a part in it. But it’s the opportunity – they play a lot of undrafted guys and you can’t go wrong with wanting to play with one of the best quarterbacks (Drew Brees).
“I was hoping the Saints took an interest in me, not only for me but for my family. All of my family lives a couple of hours from New Orleans, so it will give them a chance to come see me any time I have a home game. That’s something that I would love to do.”
His chances of sticking with the Saints will enhance if he returns to being the player that he was during his sophomore and junior seasons with LSU.
“When I was at LSU, I was used to going deep, spreading the defense out,” Dural said. “That’s something that I bring to the table. I’m able to go deep, get people to back off. That was something I’ve been known to do. And making plays blocking, special teams.”
But the fact that his performance dipped last season taught Dural a valuable lesson.
“Never take anything for granted,” he said. “You never know how things are going to play out. We had one of the best backs in college football (Leonard Fournette), but you never take anything for granted.
“You never know how things are going to play out. Everything happens for a reason: I went undrafted for a reason, I ended up with the Saints for a reason. That’s the way I feel about it.
“I’m ecstatic about the chance to play for my home state team. Playing for the team I watched growing up, I’m very excited about that.”
And undrafted or not, he understands how precious is this opportunity.
“(Saints Coach Sean Payton) let me know that I’m going to have a legitimate shot to play if I do what I need to do, if I showed them I can play,” Dural said.
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