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Top 10 Most Important New Orleans Saints in 2017: 6-10

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Part 1 of a two-part series.

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With eyes pointing ahead to the 2018 regular season, we’re going to go over the Top 10 Most Important New Orleans Saints for the upcoming season. Without further adieu, here are 6-10:

10. K Wil Lutz

Garrett Hartley came through in the clutch in Super Bowl XLIV, but he was far the model of consistency leading up to that point. The Saints have tried retreads at Kicker ever since Hartley with veterans like John Kasay, Shayne Graham, and Kai Forbath, all taking over for various points since Hartley. I haven’t felt this confidence in a kicker lining up for a field goal since the days of John Carney. While Lutz might have struggled with trajectory issues early in his career, when I see his toe-tap awaiting the snap, I have the utmost confidence that he’ll nail the kick.

If Lutz were to get hurt for any extended period of time, it wouldn’t be a shock to see more pressure placed on the offense to score six instead of three. Play-calling could become more aggressive, more risks could be taken, and the offense as a whole could falter.

9. WR Cameron Meredith

Yep. I’m putting a player who hasn’t played a meaningful NFL snap since the 2016 season as one of the Top 10 most important players on the 2018 Saints. The Saints don’t have many options in the passing game right now (spoiler alert: others will show up in this list), but with Willie Snead and Coby Fleener gone, there are plenty of targets left to be picked up. We also can’t expect Ted Ginn Jr. (now 33 years old) to repeat his success of last season or Ben Watson (turning 38 this season) to be a key contributor. That means a lot will likely fall on the shoulders (or rather, the knees) of Cameron Meredith.

8. DE Marcus Davenport

We move to another player who didn’t play for the Saints last year, but this time move to a player who has never taken an NFL snap. The Saints paid a high price to trade up in the 1st Round of the 2018 NFL Draft to draft Marcus Davenport as a pass-rusher opposite Cam Jordan. The Saints defensive line’s ability to generate pressure on the edge was a real weakness by the end of the 2017 season, especially after injuries to players like Alex Okafor and Trey Hendrickson. Both Okafor and Hendrickson are returning from their respective injuries, so it’s hard to know what to expect from either moving forward. That means if the Saints want to improve a key spot of weakness from last year’s defense, Marcus Davenport will have to make an early impact in 2018.

7. S Marcus Williams

Unfortunately now known more for the “Minnesota Miracle,” Marcus Williams is one of the most underrated players on the current Saints roster. But he showed great coverage and ball ability in his rookie year and could into one of the top Safeties in the entire NFL. Behind Marcus are less-exciting options like Vonn Bell, Kurt Coleman, Chris Banjo and Kamrin Moore. Losing Marcus would be brutal for the Saints’ chances of success in 2018.

6. C Max Unger

And we round out the bottom half of the Top 10 with one of the least exciting positions on an NFL team: the offensive line. The Saints currently have Ryan Ramczyk, Larry Warford, Unger, Andrus Peat and Terron Armstead slated as the starting offensive line. The addition of Jermon Bushrod combined with Andrus Peat and Ramczyk’s versatility creates a small amount of depth for the unit as a whole. The current depth chart has only 2018 7th Round Pick Will Clapp out of LSU as the only player behind Unger on the offensive line, so the Center position is the one spot where a single injury could be detrimental to the team.

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So, check back later for Part 2 of this series, revealing the Top 5 Most Important Saints in 2018. Disagree so far? Who do you think will be in the Top 5, and in what order? Let us know in the comments.