Six Saints Players Selected to Top 100 List
Each year NFL Players select and rank their fellow players on the top 100 list. Last year, the New Orleans Saints only had two players listed in the top 100 players ranking in regards to the lackluster defense and support for QB Drew Brees on offense. Brees was listed at #16 and RB Adrian Peterson, who joined the Saints in the offseason via free agency, was voted in at #98.
This past season, however, the Saints had a tremendous turnaround on the field they finished the 2017-2018 season with an 11-5 record including an NFC Wildcard win against NFC South rivals the Carolina Panthers. Many players contributed to this huge turnaround six of them made the 2018 Top 100 list.
Each player has been a leader on the field and became some of the NFL’s most talented and dangerous playmakers. These six players will be looking to further make their case for a higher position on the 2019 list.
CB Marshon Lattimore – voted in at #82
With the 2017 NFL Draft being so offensively heavy, the Saints were very fortunate to have selected CB Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick, (4th defensively), In his first season in the NFL, Lattimore has become one of the most efficient lockdown Cornerbacks in the league. This past season, Lattimore accounted for 52 total tackles, 43 solo tackles, 18 pass deflections, and 5 interceptions. Lattimore was selected to his first Pro-Bowl and was named AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Pro Football Focus gave him a 90.5 overall score based on his performance, especially as a coverage player. This was the 4th highest Cornerback ranking overall in the NFL last season. He will certainly look to continue his impressive start in the league as one of the most talented defensive skilled players for New Orleans. His tenacious man coverage skills, his ability to make the ball on the board, and speed to chase down defenders should not drop off. Of all the young talent that the Saints have, Lattimore might be the most promising.
WR Michael Thomas – voted in at #81
When thinking about some of the top Receivers in the NFL, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown quickly come to mind. Michael Thomas, however, is already starting his first 2 seasons in the league in a highly dominating fashion. Last season, Thomas accounted for 1,245 receiving yards on 104 receptions (out of 149 targets) for an average of 12 yards per receptions and 5 touchdowns. This was 3rd in the league in receptions, 6th in receiving yards, and 7th in receiving yards per play. Thomas has become one of QB Drew Brees’ favorite targets as Thomas has an excellent combination of speed, agility, athleticism, and great hands to bring down any pass. As Thomas continues to excel in the NFL, he might soon overtake the position of top Wide Out in the league.
RB Mark Ingram – voted in at #43
Ingram has always been one of the most underrated Offensive playmakers for the New Orleans Saints. He is often overlooked because of Drew Brees and whoever is leading the helm in the Receiving game. Last season, Ingram had his 2nd 1,000 yard rushing season as he was sharing the workload with rookie RB Alvin Kamara. Last season, Ingram accounted for 1,124 rushing yards (5th in the league) on 230 rushing attempts (the most in his career), 12 touchdowns (2nd in the league), and 4.9 yards per attempt (4th in the league). He also accounted for the 7th most yards from scrimmage last season with 1,540 yards. With Brees on the last end of his fantastic career and Kamara looking into his sophomore season, the Saints will heavily rely on Ingram this season. He will have to face a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy at the beginning of the season, however.
DE Cameron Jordan – voted in at #26
Very rarely does a pure Defensive End (non-hybrid End/Outside Linebacker like Von Miller or Khalil Mack) get the nation’s attention as one of the top pass rushers. Cameron Jordan has consistently put opposing offenses in peril due to his strength, quickness off the ball, line moves, and surprising speed. Last season was the best in his 7 seasons in the league. He accounted for 48 total tackles (career high), 34 solo tackles (career high), 13 sacks (4th in the league and career high), 18 tackles for loss, 11 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. Along with the improvement at the Defensive Backs (due to rookies CB Marshon Lattimore and S Marcus Williams), Jordan was responsible for the Saints tremendous turnaround on defense. In the 2016-2017 season, the Saints defense was ranked 31st (second to last) in points allowed per game with 28.4. Last season, however, the Saints allowed only 20.4 points per game (10th in the league). Expect the defense to be even better with an aggressive and younger End in Marcus Davenport, whom Jordan will have as a protege.
RB Alvin Kamara – voted in at #20
Of all the rookies in the NFL, the one that surprisingly made the most impact was the Saints’ 3rd round selection (67th overall pick) in the 2017 NFL Draft was RB Alvin Kamara. The rookie surpassed Adrian Peterson on the depth chart and quickly become a contributor in the running, receiving, and the return game. His incredibly fast speed, agility, durability, reliability, and versatility made him not only one of the most explosive rookies but all players in the NFL. In his first season, Kamara accounted for 728 rushing yards on 120 rush attempts, 8 rushing touchdowns (6th in the league), 6.1 yards per rush, 81 receptions, 826 receiving yards, and 5th reception touchdowns. His 1,901 all-purpose yards is ranked 3rd in the NFL, his rush-reception touchdown ratio (13) is 2nd in the league, and his 1,554 yards from scrimmage is 6th in the league. Kamara has ruthless workouts to make sure he does not experience a sophomore in his 2nd season in the league this Fall. He will get his chance to start the first 4 games of the season with 1st string RB Mark Ingram suspended.
QB Drew Brees – voted in at #8
Ever since Drew Brees played his first full season in the league in 2002, he has been one of the most consistent Quarterbacks with an incredibly strong arm. Brees has had eight seasons where he passed for over 4,500 yards or more and four where he passed for 5,000 yards or more. Last season, Brees accounted for 4,334 passing yards on 386 completions out of 536 attempts (9th in the league) for 23 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, 103.9 rating, and a 61.1 QBR. Although Brees has accounted for his lowest passing yardage since 2005, he was incredibly efficient with his passes. Last season, Brees accounted for a 72% completion percentage which set an NFL single-season record. This is Brees’ 4th time that he has had a top ten single-season completion percentage in NFL history. Brees signed a 2-year extension with New Orleans where he is expected to retire after those two years. Brees has thrown for 70,445 career passing yards which are only 1,393 behind Brett Favre’s career passing yards and 1,495 behind the all-time career passing leader Peyton Manning. Provided Brees not get injured this season, he will certainly overlap Peyton Manning as the NFL’s career all-time passing leader.
By: Michael Hanich