The New Orleans Saints are underway in a new era without Drew Brees. Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis look to keep the team competing at a high level with last year’s backup Jameis Winston under center. The offense is headlined by wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara, but there are a few other guys who are ready to tear it up down South.
QB: Jameis Winston
Winston has been the man in question throughout this offseason. Jameis is a highly talented passer who showed a major weakness for turning over the football during his 2019 campaign with the Bucs. Under the tutelage of Sean Payton for a year and after sitting behind Drew Brees, Jameis is ready to take the reins of this dynamic offense. Winston has a big arm and is one of only eight quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for 5,000+ yards in a season. We’ll see what Sean Payton can do about the turnovers but there is undeniable talent here.
RB: Alvin Kamara
Alvin is one of the league’s most electric players. He can run inside and out, and is a better receiver than some NFL wide outs. Kamara’s balance is ridiculous and he is just impossible to bring down. Alvin can carry the whole Saints offense on any given week if they need him to and with one of the best offensive lines in football, he is expected to have a huge year.
WR1: Michael Thomas
Love him or hate him, MT is a beast. He is a super clean route runner, who plays with great physicality, and strong hands. When healthy, Thomas is one of the premier receivers in the league. He was the 2019 OPOY for a reason.
WR2: Tre’Quan Smith
Smith has always been a high potential player who has shown flashes of greatness. The big problem for Tre’Quan has been staying healthy. He is yet to play a full season in the NFL and any momentum he has gained through the years has been derailed by injuries. If Smith can stay healthy, he is set to take a big jump this season and could become a real threat across from MT.
WR3: Marquez Callaway
One of the welcomed surprises of the 2020 NFL season was the encouraging start to the career of Marquez Callaway. At Tennessee, Callaway was a speedy deep threat and not much else. Clearly, Sean Payton saw the potential in Marquez and was able to utilize him as a kick/punt returner, a slot and outside wide receiver, and as a versatile offensive chess piece. Callaway looks to have a bright sophomore season in the Saints offense.
TE: Adam Trautman
Trautman is a raw and young dual threat tight end who had a stellar rookie season in regards to run blocking. Adam is one of the best blockers in the league as far as tight ends go. Trautman showed that he can be a truly dominant pass catcher and is ready to step into a starting role now that Jared Cook is off to LA.
The offensive line in NOLA is as sturdy as they come. At left tackle is the decorated veteran Terron Armstead. Armstead is an uber athletic rock who will do what he has done for the last nine years and will dominate the blind side. At left guard is the overpaid and overrated Andrus Peat. Andrus is above average but not the pro bowler people make him out to be. I expect a switch at the center position this year and I see Cesar Ruiz taking over that role. Ruiz wasn’t healthy enough to get a full tryout at center in camp last year and because it was Drew Brees’ last season, Payton opted to keep things how they were and to leave Erik McCoy. McCoy will make the shift to right guard where he played the majority of his snaps in college and will be a mauler in both facets of the game. At right tackle is arguably the best in the league, Ryan Ramczyk. Ryan is as solid as they come and can do anything asked of him. Overall this is an incredibly talented line that is in the running for the best in the league.
Other Key Contributors
QB/Weapon Taysom Hill: Hill isn’t in the running for quarterback in my opinion and will serve in his niche gadget role.
WR Deonte Harris: Deonte is a speedy and versatile receiver with explosive deep play ability and elite return skills.
RB Latavius Murray: Murray is the big and physical yin to Kamara’s yang and should serve as a solid RB2 for New Orleans.
WR Kawaan Baker: Sean Payton thinks very highly of rookie receiver Kawaan Baker and he should have the chance to showcase his talents this year.
The Saints lost all time great Drew Brees to retirement and that will definitely sting but maybe they’re better off than most think. The Saints are rolling with one of the best head coaches in league history and what they lost in mental fortitude they make up for in deep ball ability with Jameis Winston. The Saints weren’t a deep threat with Drew and were still making deep playoff runs. Perhaps Jameis Winston surprises us. This is an explosive offense with a great mix of young guys and veterans and they consistently win in the trenches. I’m not ready to say they’ll win the south or even make the playoffs but perhaps we are too quick to bury a team like this in the power rankings.