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Who are the best Saints players 25 and under?

The Saints have one of the oldest rosters in the NFL, but it doesn’t mean they have some good young talent.

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Before the 2022 season, the New Orleans Saints roster ranked as the fifth oldest by average age. The Saints are led by veterans such as Cam Jordan, Demario Davis and Derek Carr, but they still have a lot of young talent on their roster. Today, we’re going to dive into the top five players on the Saints roster under 25 years old.

The Rookies: Kendre Miller and Bryan Bresee

Miller and Bresee are the two youngest players on the Saints roster at 21 years of age. There’s no doubt these two guys have a boatload of talent and a ton of upside, but without playing a snap in the NFL yet, it didn’t feel right to put them ahead of some of the others on this list. In a year, these two could potentially make this list, but for now, they’re going to be honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention: Trevor Penning and Cesar Ruiz

Penning was the second of two first round picks by the Saints in 2022. Coming out of college, he was one of the highest rated tackles in the draft. He only appeared in six games as a rookie due to injury, but in his short time, we saw flashes of what he could become. Penning had one of the worst pass blocking grades in the entire NFL last season, but made up for it with his run blocking. If Penning can stay healthy and improve on his pass blocking, he could crack this list come next season.

Since being drafted in 2020, Ruiz has appeared in 46 games and started 40 of them. He really struggled out the gate but came into his own in 2022. If Ruiz can replicate his performance from last season in 2023, he can be a major piece of this offensive line for the foreseeable future.

5. Erik McCoy (25)

The Saints used their second-round draft pick in 2019 to select McCoy to replace Max Unger who retired at the end of the 2018 season. Since then, McCoy has played and started at center in 57 games for the Saints. After playing all 16 games his first two season, McCoy has battled some injuries in 2021 and 2022 causing him to miss a total of eight games during that span. The fifth slot came down to Ruiz and McCoy, but ultimately, McCoy has been more consistent over his four seasons.

4. Rashid Shaheed (24)

This is where this list gets very hard. You could switch placement of any of these top four guys, and I would probably agree with you. But, just because of the limited touches we saw from him, I have to put Shaheed at four.

Shaheed was absolutely electric with the football in his hands in 2022. The UDFA out of Weber State saw limited play time early, but on his first NFL touch, he took a jet sweep 44-yards to the house against the Bengals. His 28 catch, 488 yards and two TD stat line doesn’t do him justice. He’s one of the best playmakers with the ball in his hands, and it was a wonder they didn’t use him more often. He has the potential to be number two on this list if they Saints can figure out ways to give him more touches in 2023.

3. Pete Werner (24)

Again, Werner is another player that has shown so much promise, but an injury late in the season didn’t give him the chance to show us his full potential. In 2022, Werner posted 80 tackles, eight TFLs and two forced fumbles in 12 games. He and Demario Davis were one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL during that span, and now with the loss of Kaden Ellis, the door is wide open for him to take that next step. If we got a full season of Pete Werner, I think he would be number two on this list, but the two guys above him produced at an elite level for the entire 2022 season.

2. Alontae Taylor (24)

When the Saints drafted Taylor out of Tennessee in 2022, I don’t think they could’ve predicted how good he would be in year one. The Saints had Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo at CB1 and CB2, but after an injury to Adebo, Taylor took that CB2 spot and never looked back. Even though he didn’t have an interception his rookie season, he logged 46 tackles and 11 passes defended in 13 games. He allowed the sixth lowest passer rating when targeted, 5th lowest completion percentage and never allowed a reception over 20-yards according to PFF. He has a chance to form one of the best CB duos in the NFL with Lattimore in 2023, and I can’t wait to watch him keep growing.

1. Chris Olave (23)

And at your number one spot is none other than Chris Olave. The Saints made a big move to by trading up in the 2022 draft to get Olave, and it looks like it’s going to pay off for them. In 15 games, Olave racked up 72 catches for 1,042 yards (14.5 avg) and four touchdowns in 2022. He showed his speed and deep threat ability a few times throughout the year, but what really impressed me was his ability to get open within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage. That’s usually where Michael Thomas dominates, so when he went down, it was great to see Olave work that part of the field.

As a rookie, having a 1,000-yard season with Andy Dalton as your QB for most of the season is an impressive feat. Now, with Derek Carr under center, look for Olave to have a monster year as the Saints primary receiver in 2023.

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