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Saints Ranked 19th in Latest ESPN NFL Power Rankings

Coming into the draft, the Saints were ranked 21st overall in the ESPN Way Way Too Early Power Rankings. Now, in just the Way Too Early Power Rankings, the Saints have moved up to 19th.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being pointless, preseason power rankings are good to try and get a feel for how a team will perform in the upcoming season.  With free agency done and the draft recently wrapped up, fans can finally start to get a feel for how their team will perform in the upcoming year.

The Saints were, of course, massively disappointing in 2014.  It was a season of unbridled optimism.  2015, conversely, is an offseason of . . . bridled . . . optimism?  It's been a polarizing offseason, to say the least.  The Saints trade away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, losing two key cogs of their passing game in 2014.  Marques Colston struggled throughout the year and Brandin Cooks missed much of the season on IR with a broken finger.  The Saints' mentality this offseason, however, has been made abundantly clear: Get more physical.  After getting Andrus Peat in the draft, Max Unger in free agency (for Jimmy Graham and a first that would eventually become Stephone Anthony), they went on to pick another five defensive players, with Garrett Grayson and Marcus Murphy being the only players taken on the other side of the ball.

It is, of course, naive to think that more than two or, optimistically, three of these players will be immediate contributors, but it does show a philosophical shift from Sean Payton in drafting.  He saw a glaring need on defense in general, and seemed to address.  Regardless of what pundits think (the consensus seems to be that the Saints had a pretty average draft), the Saints went out of their way to make themselves better in positions that they were bad.  Stephone Anthony is an excellent ILB, and he should quickly contribute alongside either Dannell Ellerbe or David Hawthorne, and second round pick Hau'oli Kikaha (OLB out of Washington) will be a good spell for Parys Haralson.  The draft made the Saints better, and that's what it should do.

19 seems like a fair spot for New Orleans.  They made a splash in free agency, but in talent it can be argued that they stagnated despite the philosophy change.  This ranking is contingent upon the idea that the shift will take a bit of time.  The Saints showed a commitment to their backs in 2014, and they've done nothing to show that they're backtracking on that commitment (the immediate re-signing of Mark Ingram, the get that was Unger and taking a lineman at 13).  This approach works twofold, as it also should buy Brees some time.

Saints fans may think that 19 feels low, but the Saints are a Wild Card this year (not a playoff Wild Card, just a question mark).  For the record, they're ranked a spot below Buffalo and a spot above San Francisco.  If you'd like to see the full rankings, go here.

Other notable rankings:

16.) Carolina Panthers

22.) Atlanta Falcons

31.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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