An In-Depth Look at the 2020 New Orleans Saints – Power Ranking 1by Mason Thompson July 12, 2020
For two consecutive years, a lack of a penalty cost the Saints a chance at the Super Bowl. New Orleans now has the chance to put an end to that trend once again. The Saints place first in my power rankings as they don’t have a significant hole on their roster and have quality depth as well. With Drew Brees and Sean Payton at the helm, they could make one last run at getting Brees another trophy before his potential retirement.
Make sure to check out all of our in-depth power rankings here.
- Overall – 87.395 (1st)
- Offense – 90.3 (1st)
- Defense – 83.39 (8th)
- Coach and Culture – 88, (4th)
- Home Field Advantage – 90, 1st (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 90.5, 4th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Despite only playing in 11 games, Brees threw for almost 3,000 yards. His most impressive stat could be the fact that he completed over 74 percent of his passes in those 11 games. He also threw for just four interceptions compared to 27 touchdowns. Brees also completed over 78 percent of his passes in the playoff game against Minnesota. Unfortunately, they once again fell short due to questionable officiating in overtime. The Saints added significant pieces around him during the offseason to get him one last shot at another ring.
Jameis Winston was added as a veteran insurance policy as well as maybe being the successor to Brees. Winston has all the intangibles to be one of the best in the league but his decision making desperately needs help and Payton hopes he can somewhat fix that so he doesn’t throw 30 interceptions again. Winston threw for over 5,100 yards and threw the most passes in the league last year for a Tampa Bay offense that was sporadic due to his play. If he can fix the turnovers, he will be a steal at the cost the Saints currently have him at.
Taysom Hill was signed to a two-year extension to be the swiss army knife once again. Hill totaled 390 yards and seven touchdowns rushing and receiving while also being a key contributor on special teams. Tommy Stevens was selected via a trade-up during the draft and will be the backup to Hill in this role. With Hill trying to become a full-time quarterback, Stevens could take over the Hill role once he is ready or Hill goes elsewhere.
Running Backs – 90.5, 5th (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Alvin Kamara had over 1,300 scrimmage yards despite playing in a committee with Latavius Murray. Kamara’s frame caused some scares to the front office and the addition of Murray was welcomed as both had success last year. Kamara had almost 800 rushing yards as well as 533 receiving as well and totaled six touchdowns on the year. He’s one of the best backs in the league as he’s able to make a little seam in the defense turn into a huge gain. Murray has been in rotations in Minnesota and now New Orleans since leaving Oakland and is doing just fine in that role. He compiled 872 total yards and six touchdowns as the 1B to Kamara.
Dwayne Washington only had nine total touches on the year last year and totaled 66 yards. Ty Montgomery joins the backfield this year after going from team-to-team since the Packers decided to trade him since the fumble debacle against the Rams in 2018. He had 193 total yards for the Jets last year and will be fighting for playing time in New Orleans.
Pass Catchers – 83, 11th (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
Michael Thomas is debatably the best receiver in the league today. Following his record-setting year last year where he caught a whopping 149 passes for 1,725 yards, and nine touchdowns, Thomas still feels he’s disrespected by many in the league. Thomas has led the league in receiving yards the last two years and is one of the most refined route runners in the game. Emmanuel Sanders was brought in to be the slot receiver Sanders compiled 869 yards and five touchdowns last year in Denver and San Francisco and was a big contributor in San Francisco’s trip to the Super Bowl last year.
Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t made the impact that the coaches thought he would when he was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft and only snagged 18 catches last year, though five went for touchdowns. With Ted Ginn gone, Deonte Harris has a wide-open shot at becoming the deep threat in New Orleans after only catching six passes for 24 yards last year. Austin Carr and Lil’Jordan Humphrey will vie for playing time this year.
Jared Cook had a great season last year where he caught 43 passes for 705 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games. With another year acclimating to the system, his connection with Brees will be vital to how successful New Orleans is this year. Josh Hill was the second tight end last year and still caught 25 passes and three touchdowns in that role. Adam Trautman was an absolute steal at the end of the third round and he and Cook will be a great tight end duo this year if he gets acclimated to the system quickly.
Offensive Line – 93, 1st (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
The Saints have potentially the best tackle duo in the league with Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk. Ramczyk is in for an enormous payday after getting tagged with the fifth-year option from New Orleans. Andrus Peat will return and was kept over Larry Warford who the Saints released after taking Cesar Ruiz in the first round. Peat will line up at left guard, while Erik McCoy, who was a rookie sensation last year will be the man in the middle again. McCoy and Ruiz are two great offensive linemen who have the ability to play center as well as guard. Ruiz will be making the transition from center to guard in New Orleans.
Nick Easton and James Hurst bring some starting experience as quality backup depth and the Saints got another steal in Calvin Throckmorton who will compete for a roster spot this year. The Saints have five quality starters and a few backups that would be starters elsewhere.
Run Defense – 85.5, 6th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
The biggest factor here is if Sheldon Rankins will be ready for the start of the season. Rankins suffered a torn Achilles in January and is one of the vocal leaders on the defense. David Onyemata and Rankins played great last year as the two would split playing time while sometimes being on the field at the same time. If Rankins were to miss time, it would open the door for Shy Tuttle or Margus Hunt to get more playing time. In an already deep defensive line, Hunt was picked up as a luxury and will factor into an already deep rotation. Malcolm Brown is the nose tackle up front and will be in the rotation along with Hunt, Tuttle, and Mario Edwards.
Pass Rush – 84.5, T-5th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
The Saints tallied 51 sacks last year, led by Cameron Jordan‘s 15.5. Marcus Davenport needs to show he can stay healthy as he totaled six sacks while playing in 13 games. If he’s able to stay healthy, the Saints have a lethal duo on the edges. With Davenport missing time, Trey Hendrickson was able to step in and provide a spark. Hendrickson posted 4.5 sacks last year in a rotational role. Edwards is the veteran of the group and had three sacks last year. He could have his role taken over by Carl Granderson who had consistent production in the eight games he played last year.
The interior pass rush is one of the best in the league and is deep as well. Rankins had two sacks in the ten regular-season games he played while Brown, Onyemata, and Tuttle combined for another seven from the interior. Demario Davis put up four sacks from the weak side linebacker spot.
Linebackers – 81.5, T-14th (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
The linebacking core was seen as a major weakness last year. Davis led the team in tackles with 111, while recording 12 pass deflections, and an interception. Kiko Alonso is nowhere near what he used to be and could be replaced by Craig Robertson who offers more than Alonso does in coverage. Alex Anzalone is the piece the Saints linebacking core needs for it to be one of the best in the league. Injuries have plagued Anzalone his whole career. It showed last year as he only played two games due to receiving shoulder surgery.
The Saints got another steal in the third round by selecting Zack Baun from Wisconsin. Baun doesn’t really have a position as he was a bit of an edge rusher/linebacker hybrid at Wisconsin but would likely fill in as a linebacker in New Orleans often. Baun played inside and outside linebacker at linebacker and accumulated 12.5 sacks last year for the Badgers.
Anthony Chickillo was brought over from Pittsburgh and he could also compete with Robertson for Alonso’s position if he once again struggles. Kaden Eliss and Joe Bachie are two developmental projects the Saints are trying to make into valuable depth assets.
Secondary – 82.5, T-10th (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
Marshon Lattimore had an amazing rookie season but hasn’t been as noticeable since as he only had one interception last year. Janoris Jenkins returns after only playing in two games last year and should help the secondary continue its vast improvement. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was the biggest steal of the draft last year and is great as a nickel cornerback. He had eight pass deflections and an interception and now has Malcolm Jenkins to teach him in New Orleans.
P.J. Williams played most of last year as the third cornerback and struggled. With Jenkins opposite Lattimore, he won’t be tasked with playing against one of the two best receivers on opposing teams. Patrick Robinson and Johnson Bademosi are solid depth pieces. With Jenkins returning to New Orleans, they have a leader and mentor for the young guys in the locker room. This also helps Marcus Williams a ton.
Williams has unfortunately been on the wrong end of the two plays that have derailed New Orleans in two of the last three years including the Minneapolis Miracle and the Kyle Rudolph touchdown in overtime last year. He is quietly one of the best safeties in the league and recorded four interceptions last year. D.J. Swearinger is solid as a veteran insurance policy and will play more with Vonn Bell heading to Cincinnati. J.T. Gray had some moments in the limited action he had last year and will be a name to look for.
Coach and Culture – 88, 4th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
Pete Carmichael and Payton have one of the league’s most potent offenses at their hands. Brees is still performing as one of the best despite his age. The running game should be great again this year. With the addition of Sanders and Trautman, Brees has two more great weapons at his disposal. The offensive line is one of the best in the league and has five great starters including two young players who could be a key factor in another potential Super Bowl run. The Saints didn’t really lose any pieces while gaining a ton on offense. New Orleans comes in ranked third for offensive coach and culture.
Dennis Allen took over one of the league’s worst defenses a few years ago. While the defense still has some sore spots, he is looking to improve upon the 13th-ranked season last year. With Baun and Jenkins being welcomed into the fold, that shouldn’t be a problem. The Saints also have three young superstars in the back-end with Gardner-Johnson, Lattimore, and Williams. New Orleans ranks tied for 11th in defensive coach and culture.
While teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs have tons of star power at certain positions, the Saints have the most complete roster in the league with no blatant weaknesses. This could be the last chance for New Orleans to give Brees his second ring. The team certainly has the talent to do so and maybe the officiating won’t cost them games in the playoffs. Even with the win-now mentality, New Orleans could be set for the future as well if Winston shows that he has cured his turnover-prone nature.
This concludes my power rankings series that has gone over one-month. Hopefully, at the end of the season, I can come back and reflect on these rankings and discuss where I was right and wrong compared to the rest of the analysts around the country.
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