Bringing back a series of pieces from the past three years, we’re going to check each position group on the New Orleans Saints and discuss how they improve the Saints’ chances of making a run in 2022. On to the Saints’ secondary!
To view previous parts, see below:
The Saints probably have the best secondary in football.
It starts with your CB1, Marshon Lattimore, who's probably coming off of his best season thus far... who’s also maybe the best cornerback in football. We saw Lattimore basically lock down Davante Adams, Mike Evans (2x), A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin + more last year... Locked down. Lattimore held his own (at worst) in every matchup and he’s never been shy to make plays in the trenches. You can argue Lattimore amongst other great corners such as Ramsey, Jaire, and Tre’Davious White but bottom line he's elite. Anyone that argues otherwise has some kind of bias in their judgement. Ramsey is on record calling him the number 2 corner in the league and Justin Jefferson is on record calling Lattimore his toughest matchup. I trust him every week regardless of who's the matchup, as the film speaks for itself.
What makes this secondary special is that there's more cream of the crop players, outside of Lattimore. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is arguably the best nickel cornerback in football. He’s getting better with time and finding his groove, and I think he's due for a year where he's no longer underrated. You can line him up anywhere.
Paulson Adebo had a great year on the opposite side of Lattimore for a rookie, especially knowing the role he was thrown into. Saints basically run different looks of two-man all game, every game and Adebo was reliable more often than not. It took him some time to fully find his rhythm, but he really seemed to find his stride later in the season. I think the sky’s the limit for him. He should be here to stay in the league.
Replacing the loss of both safeties with Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye was a phenomenal job by the front office. Both of these guys alongside each other could be a nightmare for offenses if our CBs play how they’re expected to play. Some fans could be anxious about the lack of chemistry we’re used to in the secondary, but that shouldn't be the way to look at it. Both of these guys bring versatility we’re not used to. They will also be in a role where they're not needed to carry as much of the load. And when you trust your DB’s on an island against anyone... I think it's reasonable to expect some more turnovers. You could make the argument that our safety room got better. I have the same level of optimism for both guys, and I know Dennis Allen will be sure that they succeed.
Bradley Roby and PJ Williams are both veterans, productive DB’s who give the team trusted depth. Roby was probably the weak link in the secondary last year and this does not mean he wasn't good, because he was. Roby made plays and held his own, but it seemed that he simply got beat more than our other corners last year. However, if he improves off of last year we should be shutting down everyone.
Fans should have high hopes for Tennessee rookie Alontae Taylor. His tape shows a high ceiling (Aquib Talib?) with the traits that fit right into our scheme. Adebo and now, Taylor, look to be back to back home-run picks in the secondary from the front office. Taylor is also a depth piece that gives New Orleans the luxury of different looks for the rest of the secondary. It’s very possible we see Roby more in a nickel role for depth alongside Ceedy Deuce, while PJ could move more into a swing safety role. Taylor could force Dennis Allen’s hand for more playing time if he shines when called upon, but you can never have too many corners. DA will have options galore to be creative on a weekly basis.
The secondary will continue to be special, and it'll feed off a new-and-improved pass rush that was already great. They will make each other’s job easier as they've done the past few years, and the defense will be nothing short of stellar. And again... expect more interceptions.