Two New Orleans Saints players made the Pro Football Focus ‘Top 25 Breakout Players of the 2015 Season’ list.
Not only did two New Orleans Saints players make the list — they both cracked the top ten. That’s right, left tackle Terron Armstead (No. 5) and cornerback Delvin Breaux (No. 8) each had remarkable breakout campaigns in 2015.
PFF on Armstead:
"5. Terron Armstead, LT, NO2014 cumulative grade: +9.6 on 850 snaps2015 cumulative grade: +30.8 on 952 snapsSmall-school offensive lineman seem to be growing in popularity after Armstead’s selection in the third round in 2013, as well as with Ali Marpet’s selection in the second round last year. Armstead makes a good figurehead for that movement, having improved to elite status amongst tackles. He was solid in his second year, allowing three sacks, four hits, and 18 hurries, but took the major step upwards in 2015. Armstead allowed just three sacks, two hits, and 15 hurries in more snaps this season, finishing with the third-highest grade in pass protection. Considering that he combined those pass protection skills with the third-highest run blocking grade, the case for elite status is strong."
After a near-flawless 2015 campaign as one of the NFL’s top offensive tackles, it was very disappointing to hear that Armstead was not elected to the Pro Bowl. However, he was eventually named an alternate to the NFL’s all-star game, but was not on the roster.
The product of Arkansas-Pine Bluff is an absolute stud. When you think of athleticism in football, you think of skill position players (receivers, running backs, cornerbacks, etc). The last thing you likely think of is an offensive lineman. They’re not athletic — they’re big and slow. And in many cases, that is true. However, Armstead is an exception, a big exception.
Armstead has not only become the team’s most reliable blocker for the running game, but he’s protecting Drew Brees‘ blindside, which is critical for both a quarterback’s success and well being. When it comes to age and ceiling, Armstead is arguably the most valuable piece to the future of this franchise.
PFF on Breaux:
"8. Delvin Breaux, CB, NO2014 cumulative grade: N/A2015 cumulative grade: +11.8 on 958 snapsBreaux is not the first talented player to arrive from the CFL, and he’s unlikely to be the last. The Saints’ corner looked like an All-Pro at times in 2015, but then proceeded to look like a rookie moments later. Experience in the NFL should iron out those inconsistencies, ensuring a reduction in the 10 touchdowns he allowed from just 40 catches last season. Breaux’s 15 pass deflections and 48.8 percent catch rate allowed (40-of-82) both indicate the talent at his disposal; now he just needs to harness it on every down."
Before Breaux ventured on over to the NFL, he faced a ton of adversity (life-threatening adversity), which is why he was named the Saints’ winner of the 2015 Ed Block Courage Award.
Once an LSU-bound prospect to go play for Coach Les Miles and the Tigers in Baton Rouge, Breaux suffered a devastating neck injury, breaking three vertebrae in 2006 during a game his senior year at McDonogh 35 High School in New Orleans. He still joined LSU, however, he never received medical clearance to play, which led to his departure and eventually his decision to give semi-pro football a shot, but not until over half a decade later.
Between 2012-2014, Breaux spent time on a semi-pro team (Louisiana Bayou Vipers), time in the Arena Football League (New Orleans Voodoo), and eventually the Canadian Football League before signing with the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Sean Payton said he couldn’t let him leave the team facility without a contract. He said Breaux’s workout was the best workout he had ever seen from a cornerback. That says a lot coming from a guy with decades of experience scouting talent.
Between hard work, dedication, proper preparation, and the physical attributes and abilities he possesses, Breaux was an absolute treasure in his rookie year for the New Orleans Saints. He went from scrub to flirting with elite territory at an unimaginable rate, emerging as the team’s No. 1 corner with Keenan Lewis injured most of the season in addition to Brandon Browner‘s historically awful year.
Both Delvin Breaux and Terron Armstead are very deserving of making this list, particularly in the top ten.