NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In a welcomed change from some previous draft classes, the five-player 2016 class has already made significant contributions in just the first half of their rookie seasons.
Here's how I would rank their impact after eight games:
5.) Sheldon Rankins (1st round)
Obviously an injury forced him to miss the first seven games of the season. The hope is, by the end of this season, Rankins will move up significantly on this list. In his first action of the year against the 49ers, Rankins played 38 snaps and had one tackle.
4.) David Onyemata (4th round)
He is very raw but has worked his way into the defensive line rotation. Coming from Canada, Onyemata had all the makings of a redshirt rookie season; that hasn't happened. Plus, the Saints must feel confident enough in his development that they released John Jenkins.
3.) Daniel Lasco (7th round)
Lasco is a very smart player who has contributed to both the ground game and special teams. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Lasco gets more snaps as the season goes on.
2.) Vonn Bell (2nd round)
His play has been impressive enough for the Saints to basically scrap the strongside linebacker position altogether. Bell is one-third of the Saints three safety base/nickel look. He is a sure tackler who recovered his first fumble Sunday. He is also fourth on the team with 38 tackles.
1.) Michael Thomas (2nd round)
Not only the best rookie on the team but one of the top five rookies in the entire league. In fact, if Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott weren't dominating in Dallas, Thomas would likely be getting some more national attention for rookie of the year. He leads all rookie receivers with 47 receptions and is tied for the team lead with five touchdowns. He also has the clutch gene as he seems to come up big in crucial situations.