After Further Review: What we learned about the Saints this offseason
(WVUE) - The Saints called their offseason program a day early and headed off to summer vacation. Now they get a six-week break before training camp begins in late July.
Football in June can be the biggest mirage in sports, thus it's important to temper everything we see. Still, after having a front row seat to five practice sessions, here's what I learned about this team.
Saints have real depth
On every television or radio show I've done, I've been asked my overall feeling on the Saints. And on every show, this is my response: the Saints are deep. Whether it's offensive line, defensive line, quarterback, receiver, linebacker or secondary, the Saints look to have quality football players everywhere. This is crucial to any team's success. Injuries will occur, and a team is only as good as their second or third team players.
Michael Thomas is good
I know. I know. Breaking news with that headline. But even with Thomas missing minicamp, I thought overall he was the best player, regardless of position, all offseason. Thomas treated mid-June reps like they were the last ones he will ever take on a football field. No reason was given as to why he missed minicamp. Hopefully, it's nothing major and when the team returns in late July, he'll pick up where he left off.
Legend of Taysom Hill grows
Did you hear the story of Taysom Hill bench pressing 400 pounds with one arm?
Only kidding. But it does illustrate the near mythical status surrounding Hill. His legend grew last year when he, as the third string quarterback, covered punts and kickoffs. Combine that with Sean Payton's borderline man-crush and you have what will be the most talked about storyline heading into training camp and preseason.
On the field, I keyed in on Hill and what I saw was a player that has potential but isn't there yet. His athleticism is off the charts. Speaking to him, he seems to have the right intangibles. But his accuracy is not where it needs to be to effectively run this offense. He still has plenty of time to improve. But as the offseason ends, I'd still put Tom Savage ahead of him on the depth chart.
Last year's rookie draft class was one for the ages, and they've shown no signs of slowing down this offseason.
I point this out because instant success can be just as much of a curse as it is a blessing in the NFL. Sometimes early recognition can cause a player to get a little complacent. From what I've seen thus far, that hasn't happened with this group.
Alvin Kamara looks more muscular with the same explosion and versatility. Alex Anzalone is healthy and been sharp in practice. Marshon Lattimore had a few lapses one practice forcing Sean Payton to jump on him. Right after Payton did so, Lattimore intercepted a pass from Drew Brees. Marcus Williams had a great offseason and flashed his uncanny range with several pass breakups. Ryan Ramczyk hasn't missed a beat at right tackle.
Most Intriguing Position: Linebacker
On a roster that doesn't appear to have many open starting positions, I'm curious to see how the linebacker depth chart stacks up. Per usual, there was a lot of mixing and matching throughout OTA's. Demario Davis was their big money free agent. Anzalone and Klein are both back to 100%. They also have Nate Stupar, Manti Te'o and Craig Robertson. Will Davis play mike or will? Is Klein a mike or a sam? Can Anzalone stay healthy? Where do the other three factor in? How many will they ultimately keep on the roster? Last year, depth was tested at this position.
If I were handicapping it right now, I'd say the starting three would be Davis at middle, Anzalone at weakside and Klein at the strongside. We'll see what happens during training camp.
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