5. WR Ted Ginn Jr.
So this might surprise people to see Ginn on the list of “Most Important” Saints, but if you thin about it, it makes sense. For once, he’s coming to the offensive expected to help the Saints replace a portion of what they lost in the “home run” potential from Brandin Cooks. But less notably, Ginn comes in to solidify what has been a mediocre at best Special Teams return unit.
We all saw what our return game looks like when it’s headlined by Travaris Cadet. Without Ginn, that’s what we would look like again in 2017.
4. OL Zach Strief
I know I said before that the Saints are fortunate to have depth on the offensive line to be able to shuffle pieces around in the event of injury, but after already losing Armstead for a significant chunk of time, Strief becomes all the more important for 2017. He was able to hold his own in his age 33 season last year, and put up what could arguably be called the single best season of his career.
In addition to being the Week 1 (through Week 17, ideally) starter, Strief will also be leaned on to help mold 2017 1st Round Pick Ryan Ramcyk as his future replacement. A lot hinges on Strief this year, both for the 2017 season alone, and the Saints long-term future.
3. WR Michael Thomas
Thomas burst onto the scene last year in his rookie campaign, topping the 1,000 yard mark in spite of missing a game due to injury. Looking back at the season, you can point to instances where opposing defenses really singled out Brandin Cooks and made it a point to make sure Cooks was covered (the Rams game comes to mind). With Cooks covered by opposing teams’ #1 Corner and a Safety over the top, this left Thomas in beatable one-on-one coverage where he was able to take advantage. If Thomas is now the focal point of the Saints offense at Wide Receiver, it will be interesting to see if Thomas is able to maintain his elite status.
2. DE Cameron Jordan
Jordan had another great year in 2016, and with the Saints failing to bring in another high-profile pass rusher (either in free agency or the draft) to rush the passer opposite Jordan, he will again be forced to make things happen and beat double-teams. So far, that hasn’t been much of a problem. Jordan was an obvious snub from the NFL Network’s Top 100 players for 2017, but was named by Bleacher Report as one of the Top 10 most unblockable pass rushers in the NFL. If Cam goes down, look for opposing QBs to have all the time in the world to tear apart the Saints defense.
1. QB Drew Brees
Was there really any doubt here? The Saints offense will live and die by Drew Brees’s arm. Yes, the Saints have Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara in the backfield, but as long as Sean Payton is at the helm, the Saints offense is still a pass-first attack.
Brees seems to lead the league in passing almost every season, and with an improved defense on the other side of the ball to potentially get him back on the field sooner, he might be able to lead the Saints to the promised land once again.
So what says you? Do you disagree? Do you have a different Top 10 Most Important Saints list? Tell us in the comments.