The New Orleans Saints got better this offseason. They were able to upgrade at a number of key positions, ranging from pass rusher to wide receiver. Some names were more familiar than others – particularly retreads like tight end Benjamin Watson and cornerback Patrick Robinson, even offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod. But there’s a host of new names (and jersey numbers!) for fans to learn. Which new player are you most-invested in?
The Saints have been wanting for a fast, smart linebacker for years. They (briefly) had a fast linebacker in Stephone Anthony, but he was lacking in football I.Q. They signed a couple of smart linebackers last year, with Manti Te’o making the best impression, but none of them really flowed to the ball. The team also signed A.J. Klein and drafted Alex Anzalone, who are each smart as well as fast, but they both lost the 2017 season to injuries.
Demario Davis is the guy who could (potentially) combine both of those important qualities in one player, and be the piece to elevate the Saints defense even further. He was super productive for the New York Jets last season and brings upside in areas New Orleans needs most from its middle linebacker spot: he communicates well, punishes QB’s on blitzes, and can move around with ease.
Don’t look now, but the Saints went and got better at wide receiver. The lauded 2016 BMW offense wasn’t long for this world, due to Brandin Cooks’ pettiness and Willie Snead’s drive-thru daiquiri stand habit. Ted Ginn Jr has been living his best life and Michael Thomas is one of football’s best receivers, but it was clear New Orleans needed more at the position.
So they got more, by signing Cameron Meredith away from the Chicago Bears and drafting Tre’Quan Smith from college football’s transitive national champion UCF Knights. Smith figures to have more of a Kenny Stills/Robert Meachem-style impact as a rookie, but Meredith should immediately challenge for the WR2 spot in the rotation. He’s well ahead of schedule in rehabbing his 2017 knee injury, which was reportedly so grim the Bears didn’t consider matching New Orleans’ offer.
Eyes on the prize here, folks. Forget about the draft capital spent on Marcus Davenport and consider the player. The Saints have a 6-foot-6, 264-pound monster who is still growing and was very productive in college. Davenport’s got the work ethic (putting on 66 pounds of muscle over his college career) and eccentric interests (he’s a dang anime-loving otaku, and celebrated draft night with two Hot’n Spicy McChickens and a Big Mac) to rapidly endear himself to fans.
Sure, Davenport is raw and has a lot to learn. But he’s not clueless, and David Onyemata’s success under Ryan Nielsen is reassuring. Put another way, Davenport could see his senior year’s raw production (9 sacks, 6 hits, 35 hurries per the Pro Football Focus draft guide) cut in half and still nearly match the Saints’ second-best pass rusher in 2017, Alex Okafor (5 sacks, 4 hits, 21 hurries per the PFF free agency guide).
There’s any number of other players fans could be stoked to see – maybe you share an alma mater with running back Boston Scott, or think safety Kurt Coleman is just what the young defensive backfield needs to be great. Let it be known in the poll.
433 votes total