Sean Payton tells ESPN he’s not sure Julio Jones-type receiver exists in 2016 draft

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The expected release of Marques Colston has led some to believe the Saints might be in the market for his replacement early in the draft.

But this might not be the kind of draft that has an obvious, bona fide No. 1 receiver, a point that might have been underscored when the entire class ran slower than expected on Saturday in Indianapolis.

New Orleans head coach Sean Payton told ESPN Monday afternoon that he’s not sure there’s a prototype available this year.

“I’m anxious to see the tapes on a few of these guys,” Payton said. “I think it has a chance to be a pretty good wide receiver class. I think, with regards to the Julio Jones‘s, or that elite-level player that has the height, weight, speed characteristics, I don’t know that that player exists in this draft.”

Colston’s impending release was widely reported last week by ESPN, the Associated Press and the NFL Network, but the move is not official.

“With regards to Marques, it hasn’t happened yet,” Payton said. “We’ve talked and spent a long time with where we’re at.”

Payton does have great respect for Colston, who rose from a seventh-round pick out of Hofstra to become Drew Brees’ favorite receiver.

“He’s someone that I’m extremely close to,” Payton said. “Jahri Evans, those guys were all in this 2006 draft class, and they all epitomized what we were looking for. Those guys were leaders, great players, very consistent. Whether they choose to continue to play, I’m sure they’re going to have great success.”