When you add in the likes of Drew Brees and Benjamin Watson, the average age of the New Orleans Saints feels like it would be pulled to late 30s. But in reality, the Saints actually have an extremely young - and extremely talented - core of players for the future.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that when ESPN ranked the talent under age 25 for each NFL team, the Saints came in at #3 (Insider Required):
2017 ranking: 9
The early returns show that the Saints won the 2017 NFL draft. Dynamic running back Alvin Kamara was the Offensive Rookie of the Year after he averaged 6.1 yards per carry, caught 81 balls, and even had a 106-yard kickoff return touchdown. The Saints became the first team since the merger to have the Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Defensive Rookie of the Year in the same season, with cornerback Marshon Lattimore claiming the latter award after a season that included five interceptions.
Safety Marcus Williams is best known for his blunder in the playoffs against Stefon Diggs on the Minneapolis Miracle, which is a shame because he did not allow a touchdown in coverage all season prior to that. Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk was impressive in his first season and gives the Saints a second competent under-25 starter on the line to go with left guard Andrus Peat.
There are non-2017 draft picks to mention too. 2016 first-round pick Sheldon Rankins had only 2.0 sacks, but he also had 27 hurries, which bodes well for his future sack production. The Saints added defensive end Marcus Davenport in the first round to back up Cameron Jordan in the rotation. Safety Vonn Bell is a solid third-year starter. We won’t mention too many kickers here, but Wil Lutz is one of the few to highlight after making 28 of his first 36 field goals from 40-plus yards in two seasons.
This actually mirrors the ranking the Saints received in ESPN’s “future rankings” earlier this summer.
Hopefully, with the additions from the 2018 NFL Draft, namely Marcus Davenport, Tre’Quan Smith, and Boston Scott, the Saints continue to add to their young core. The presence of established veterans like Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, and Mark Ingram help bring wisdom and experience for 2018 and beyond as well.
Across the NFC South, the Buccaneers came in 5th in the under-25 rankings, the Atlanta Falcons came in at 16th (after previously coming in 5th themselves last year), and the Carolina Panthers came in all the way down at 20th.