When CBS ranked their “Top 25 NFL players under 25” the Saints were well-represented, with three members of the 2017 draft class appearing on the list, the most players from any team in the NFL.
First name appearing on the list? Safety Marcus Williams.
25. Saints S Marcus Williams (23)
Despite snagging 10 interceptions during his first three seasons (tied for the fifth-most in that span among safeties), it still feels like Williams is underrated. This past season, he posted a career high in passes defended with 13 (he had 10 in his previous two seasons combined) and finished as Pro Football Focus’ third-highest graded safety. Unfortunately for Williams, his involvement in the Minneapolis Miracle continues to overshadow just how good of a player he’s been since the Saints took him 42nd overall in the 2017 draft.
This is a sentiment that has been echoed by many Saints fans and media for a while. While the Minneapolis Miracle is a nasty stain on Marcus Williams’s resume, the point remains that he does not deserve to be the scapegoat on defense that he’s become. Even including the meaningless miracle in Minnesota, Marcus has been a net-positive for the Saints defense.
Continuing the safety conversation, the most slept-on safety in the NFL today is the Saints' Marcus Williams. And that's saying something bc a lot of the top safeties in the NFL aren't hyped up much.— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) May 23, 2020
Next on the list for the Saints, the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year:
18. Saints RB Alvin Kamara (24)
If Kamara wasn’t a running back, he’d rank far higher on this list. Even still, Kamara is the perfect running back for the modern NFL. For one, he was drafted by the Saints in the third round, proving yet again that teams can find great running backs at a tremendous value. Two, he can do a bit everything. As a runner, he’s averaging 802.7 yards and nine touchdowns per season, and 5.0 yards per carry. As a pass catcher, he’s averaging 81 catches, 689.3 yards, and 3.3 touchdowns per season, and 8.5 yards per catch. In New Orleans, where he’s been catching passes from Drew Brees in Sean Payton’s offense, Kamara has found a perfect home. In turn, the Saints have the perfect running back for the modern NFL and Payton’s offense.
The 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year tops the list for the Saints:
16. Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (24)
This marks Lattimore’s third straight year making an appearance on this list. While he peaked on this list after his rookie season, for which he won Defensive Rookie of the Year, he’s still been remarkably consistent since the Saints drafted him 11th overall in 2017 with eight interceptions, 44 passes defended, and 168 combined tackles. Earlier this offseason, the Saints picked up his fifth-year option, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Letting him leave as he enters the prime of his career would be colossally stupid. The Saints should sign him to a long-term deal at some point in the next year. At best, he’s been a star (2017). At worst, he’s been a consistently good starter (2018-19).
It’s hard to fault the logic there regarding Lattimore. After lighting the world on fire his rookie year, he’s yet to reach that same level of performance in his past two seasons, with last year coming closest.
If Lattimore can re-gain his 2017 form, Kamara has a healthy year more like his 2018 season, and Marcus Williams continues to improve on his 2019 numbers, the NFL should watch out.
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