For the sixth consecutive offseason, we’re ranking the New Orleans Saints‘ top players; this year it’ll be their top 20. We’ll publish a new player each weekday as we inch closer to training camp.
Eight players from last year’s list are no longer on this year’s list: No. 4 Brandin Cooks, No. 9 Stephone Anthony, No. 10 Keenan Lewis, No. 11 Coby Fleener, No. 16 James Laurinaitis, No. 17 Jairus Byrd, No. 19 Tim Hightower, No. 20 Thomas Morstead.
This year’s list brought a unique challenge with a 40 percent turnover from the 2016 top 20 rankings. It’s difficult to decipher how well some players will recover from injury. It’s also a challenge to determine how good some of the newbies (young and old) will fit into the mix.
I sense there won’t be a consensus outside the No. 1 player:
No. 19: S Vonn Bell
Last year’s rank: NR
Season: 2; Age: 22; Height: 5-11; Weight: 205
The Saints traded up into the second round in the 2016 NFL Draft to nab Bell. They wasted no time thrusting him into the starting lineup on a defense needing all the help it could find.
Bell played every game last season, starting 14. The safety combined for 87 tackles (61 solo), along with a sack, two forced fumbles and four pass defenses.
The Ohio State product seemed to play at his best when the Saints ran three-safety sets with Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd. Vaccaro’s four-game suspension at the end of the 2016 season shifted Bell into more pass-coverage situations in which Bell struggled at times.
Adding Marcus Williams in this year’s second round of the draft brings another piece to the equation. Williams, Bell and Vaccaro could be the…
click here to read the rest of this story