There’s been plenty of buzz about the New Orleans Saints’ impressive rookie class, and the praise doesn’t look to be slowing down.
Bleacher Report’s annual NFL1000 scouting project has released its midseason rookie rankings, and the Saints saw three of their draft picks ranked in the first eleven spots. No other team had more than one player named to the top eleven, and only the Saints had three rookies ranked within the top twenty-five. Four other teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, and San Francisco 49ers) had two players selected.
The Saints selected to this listing were:
- Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, third overall. Lattimore is also NFL1000’s top-ranked cornerback at the halfway mark. Bleacher Report analyst Ian Wharton had this to say:
Still our No. 1 rookie corner, New Orleans Saints first-round pick Marshon Lattimore is already knocking on the door of superstardom as one of the best young corners in the NFL. In man coverage, he's allowed just seven receptions on 18 targets for 32 yards, per my own charting. There are not many corners I'd take ahead of Lattimore in the league.
For what it’s worth, last week SI.com’s Jonathan Jones named Lattimore the odds-on favorite for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors:
The fourth defensive player chosen in the draft has so far been the best and most consistent defensive rookie in the league. The Ohio State product has four passes defended, one pick-six, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in four games. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s allowing 0.71 yards per coverage snap and quarterbacks have a 53.0 passer rating when targeting him, which ranks him the best among all corners. New Orleans has had a very bad, no-good defense the past few years, but it could have turned the corner last week against Detroit in a winnable NFC South.
- Offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, seventh overall. Like Lattimore, Ramczyk was named the top rookie in his position group. NFL1000 scout Ethan Young explained the praise:
This may seem like high praise for a guy who doesn't top the list, but Ramczyk has done quite a job this year and deserves to hold the spot. His flashes are less visceral than Robinson's, but Ramczyk is so detailed in pass protection that it's easy to forget he's a rookie. The things he puts on tape are leaps and bounds above most rookie linemen, and his snap-in, snap-out consistency is already among the best at the position.
- Running back Alvin Kamara, eleventh overall. Just two running backs are graded above Kamara: Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt. NFL1000 running backs specialist Mark Bullock broke it down further:
One of the main reason the Saints were happy to give up on the Adrian Peterson experiment so early was the development of Alvin Kamara. Kamara has been what everyone expected Christian McCaffrey to be and looks like a threat to break off a big gain every time he touches the ball. Expect his workload to increase with Peterson gone.
Spin that however you want. We all know that Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value grades is the only ranking that matters, but that won’t be available until after the season.