Payton gushed about his new offensive weapon to WWL-TV, via Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com:
He's got outstanding speed, so the one thing that jumps off the film is his ability to really run. He's a guy that's smart. He's someone who played in a system very similar to ours in college.
Watching his skill set, I think for us as coaches, it's exciting because I see a number of ways where he's going to be able to help us in the passing game.
Fleener, whom Indianapolis drafted out of Stanford in 2012, signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the Saints on March 9 after New Orleans lost veteran tight end Benjamin Watson to the Baltimore Ravens.
Over the past three seasons, Fleener's had at least 84 targets and 50 receptions, as his speed and versatility as a tight end are difficult for teams to defend against. While the tight end position usually comes with the dual responsibility of being a blocker along the offensive line, Payton understands that Fleener isn't that.
"He's not going to be the first guy you put in at the point of attack on a power play, but that's OK," Payton said. "Let's make sure we understand the things that he does real well, and I think we can do that offensively."
Payton is setting Fleener up for success inside the Saints offense, which has been a pass-happy unit for much of quarterback Drew Brees' tenure in New Orleans.
Last season, Brees led the NFL with 4,870 yards and was tied for seventh with 32 touchdowns. It was the seventh time in eight years that Brees threw for more than 4,500 yards, and he's always had a knack for finding his tight ends.
Whether it be Jimmy Graham or Watson, the Saints' No. 1 tight end has recorded at least 800 yards each year since 2011.
|New Orleans Saints' No. 1 Tight End Stats: 2011-2015|
If that kind of trend continues, then Fleener, whose career high in yards is 774, will put up some new personal bests with the Saints.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.