Saints ranked No. 11 among NFL rosters this season
After a very eventful offseason, many fans are curious where things are headed with their team’s roster. For the New Orleans Saints, while there are some questions left to answer and some training camp battles to watch, the roster is mostly filled out.
A roster that Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus ranked just outside the top-10 in the NFL ahead of training camp.
Linsey built his rankings by looking at projected starters, PFF’s grades from 2021, and also listed each roster’s strength, weakness, and X-factor. Coming in at No. 11, the team’s secondary is what brings the most confidence.
"Impact players at all three levels should make (New Orleans) one of the stingier defenses in the league again this season," Linsey wrote. "Particularly against the run. The only team to allow fewer yards per run play than the Saints since 2019 is Tampa Bay."
The Saints have hung their laurels on neutralizing opponents’ running games and forcing them to play through the air. Something that an improved, playmaking secondary will look forward to seeing.
The additions of Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye at safety will headline most conversations around this unit. But the team also took time to increase competition at cornerback opposite four-time Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore. Look for last year’s starter Paulson Adebo to find competition in second-round rookie Alontae Taylor and veteran Bradley Roby throughout camp.
The teams ranked ahead of New Orleans all make sense to an extent. My biggest question marks ahead of them would be the Philadelphia Eagles (7) and Miami Dolphins (10). Both of which have major questions at quarterback while the Saints biggest question mark surprisingly didn’t fall into that category.
Instead, it was about the protection in front of quarterback Jameis Winston. The Saints invested their second first-round selection in this year’s draft in Northern Iowa’s towering left tackle Trevor Penning.
Penning has some things to improve upon but what generates confidence around the raw prospect is simple. He’s excellent when it comes to elements of the game that can’t be taught (size, athleticism, and tenacity), and needs help in areas that can be taught. With a premier developer like Doug Marrone now coaching the offensive line, there’s reason for optimism there.
Being ranked just outside the top-10 is not a bad place for this Saints roster as we project it. The return of Michael Thomas alone could push this roster into top-5 conversation if he returns to even just his rookie year level of production. Specialists were not considered in this exercise, but some might even say that the Saints special teams unit could help to push this team into a higher standing. At least on paper.
How they perform on the field in 2022 will be the ultimate test of how successful this exciting offseason has actually been.