UA-59049186-1 2017 NFL Team Preview: New Orleans Saints - Good if it Goes

2017 NFL Team Preview: New Orleans Saints

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Last Year:

Record: 7-9

Offense: 29.3 (2nd)

Defense: 28.4 (31st)

Offseason: 

Key Acquisitions: RB. Adrian Peterson, DE. Alex Okafor, DT. Tony McDaniel, LB. AJ Klein

Key Losses: WR. Brandin Cooks, DE. Paul Kruger, S. Jarius Byrd

2017 Draft Picks

RD(PK) PLAYER POS SCHOOL
1(11) Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
1(32) Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
2(10) Marcus Williams S Utah
3(3) Alvin Kamara RB Tennessee
3(12) Alex Anzalone ILB Florida
3(39) Trey Hendrickson DE Florida Atlantic
6(12) Al-Quadin Muhammad DE Miami (FL)

2017 Outlook 

Coaching Staff

  • HC: Sean Payton
  • OC: Pete Carmichael
  • DC: Dennis Allen
  • ST: Brad Banta

Offense

QB. Drew Brees, Chase Daniels

RB. Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson

FB. John Kuhn

WR. Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman

WR. Tedd Ginn, Jake Lampman

WR. Willie Snead

TE. Coby Fleener, Josh Hill

LT. Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk

LG. Andrus Peat, John Fullington

C. Max Unger, Senio Kelemete

RG. Larry Warford, Landon Turner

RT. Zach Strief, Bryce Harris

Defense

DE. Alex Okafor, Trey Hendrickson

DT. Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davidson

DT. Tony McDaniel, David Onyemata

DE. Cameron Jordan, Darryl Tapp

SLB. Craig Robertson, Dannell Ellerbe

MLB. AJ Klein, Manti Te’o

WLB. Stephone Anthony, Alex Anzalone

CB. Delvin Breaux, Sterling Moore

SS. Kenny Vaccaro, Erik Harris

FS. Marcus Williams, Rafael Bush

CB. Marshon Lattimore, Damian Swann

NB. PJ Williams

NS. Vonn Bell

Specialists

K. Will Lutz

P. Thomas Morstead

 Breakdown

Offense:

The Saints had an elite offense last season and figure to have one again in 2017. It all starts with Drew Brees who had another great year to add to his already stellar hall of fame career. He has shown no signs of slowing down and figures to throw in the 5,000 yard range yet another season. The Saints have surrounded Brees with plenty of weapons both receiving and in the backfield. At the running back position Mark Ingram is coming off the best season of his career rushing for over 1,000 yards and on top of that the team brought in a legend in Adrian Peterson looking to prove he still has something left. The team traded away Brandin Cooks but there is still plenty of talent left for Brees to chunk it to. Most notably Michael Thomas who was the team’s best receiver last season as a rookie. He led the team in receptions and receiving TDs and looks like he can be an elite receiver in this league. Replacing Cooks will be a slightly less talented but nearly as fast Ted Ginn Jr who will take over as the team’s new deep threat. Willie Snead is back in the slot. He has been very reliable for the Saints and has overachieved for an undrafted free agent. Coby Fleener is back at TE after a decent showing in his first year with the Saints and if he can give them 50 catches and over 600 yards again they will take it. Not only are the Saints strong at QB and at their skill positions but the offensive line is really good as well. They are strongest at tackle where they have Armstead at LT and Strief at RT. Armstead may not be ready for the start of the season but is slated to return at some point. Strief was one of the top five RTs in the NFL last season and was strong both run and pass blocking. The Saints top guy in the interior is RG Earl Warford who was best as a run blocker last year. At the other guard spot will be third year man Andrus Peat who has gotten better in each of first two seasons and hopefully can take the next step in 2017. Max Unger is back at center and was one of the best pass blocking centers in the game last season. Once this group gets at full strength the Saints will have one of the top lines in the NFL. Overall the Saints have an elite QB with plenty of weapons and good line to protect him which means you can expect them to do what they seem to do every year which is score a bunch of points.

Defense:

The Saints defense has been awful for years but this could be the year they are just normal bad instead of all-time bad. The Saints have made strides over the past two drafts to get better on defense and they could begin to pay off. Their first round pick last season was DT Sheldon Rankins who only played nine games. His performance was up and down overall but the potential is there for him to be a great player one day and I expect him to make major strides in year two. At the other tackle spot will be free agent pickup Tony McDaniel who will provide solid run defense. At the RE spot is Cameron Jordan who is one of the elite defensive ends in the league. He gives his all every game and is in desperate need of more help around him. The Saints picked up Alex Okafor from the Cardinals who is a decent rotational pass rusher but probably is not starter material. The Saints had one of the worst linebacking corps in the league last year. They brought in two new linebackers in free agency, Audi Cole and Manti Te’o, both of whom who would be better served as backups and were last season for their previous clubs. Who starts is anyone’s guess as the team is litered with a bunch of backup caliber linebackers and I imagine it will be a full blown competition for all spots. The secondary could be the strongest group on the defense. The cornerback position looks better than it has in years for the Saints. They took Marshon Lattimore in the first round who was the best corner in the draft and if Delvin Breaux can stay healthy and return to his 2015 form they could have one of the better young and upcoming corner tandems in the league. The Saints also have a lot of depth at corner and have a few different options at the nickel spot. Williams figures to be the favorite as he was the Saints top corner a year ago but Sterling Moore and Damian Swann are also in the mix. The Saints also ran a three safety defensive look at times a year ago and they have three ready to go to do it again this season when necessary. Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell figure to be the starting safeties in the Saints more traditional looks but their second round pick in this year’s draft Marcus Williams should see the field when they do decide to roll out the three safety look. Overall this is the first time in a while coming into a season I look at the Saints defense and feel like they could actually finish somewhere in the 20s instead of the 30s.

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