The tier 3 and 4 players
Tight End: Benjamin Watson – Tier 3
Ask me to write this article after Benjamin Watson‘s 2015 season with the Saints, and he’d be in the conversation for the back half of tier two. Fast foward to 2018, and after suffering a torn achilles in 2016, Watson has taken a slight step back. Watson’s not the same player he was back in 2015, but he’s still a solid player that will pay dividends for the Saints in 2018.
According to these NFL1000 scouting reports by Joe Goodburry and Doug Farrar, Watson is a quality TE that can flex out and stay inline to block. With his flexible skill set, Watson will be a key piece to the New Orleans Saints 2018 season. Placing him in the high third tier based on health and physical limitations is fair.
Left Tackle: Terron Armstead – Tier 3
If only this was Madden, and we could turn injuries off. In a perfect world, Terron Armstead would easily be in tier 2 based on his athleticism and his excellent pass protection.
Due to his health issues, however, there are many more reliable left tackles in the NFL that consistently appear for their teams. Having only played 53% of games in the past two years, Armstead will have to stay on the field to ever be considered in that second tier of tackles.
Guard: Larry Warford – Tier 3
I barely put Larry Warford into tier three because I think he’s a solid contributor. He’ll never be considered as the best in any area, but what he brings in consistency and reliability are what make him a solid starter.
As stated in the Bleacher Report scouting report, Warford’s health is a major concern, like Armstead. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see how the New Orleans Saints attack the offensive line.
Center: Max Unger – Tier 3
Max Unger comes in as another tier three player for me due to the players ahead of him. I believe after the big four of Travis Frederick, Rodney Hudson, Jason Kelce, and Alex Mack, there’s a large group of centers knocking on the door in that second tier.
What separates Unger from that second tier is age. Unger, as mentioned in the scouting report linked above, has lost a step. This slight loss of athleticism could be the difference between a three yard run and a sixty yard touchdown. Something so slight will only become more prominent with time.
Defensive Tackle: Sheldon Rankins – Tier 3
Sheldon Rankins has played nearly everywhere on the New Orleans Saints defensive line. Being asked to wear many hats, Rankins’ professional attitude has made him quite an asset for Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen.
Hopefully after drafting Marcus Davenport, Rankins will be allowed to stay at 3-technique and thrive against opposing guards. On passing downs, Rankins thrives and can really be a terror. If he wants to make that leap into the second tier, Rankins must become a better run defender. As stated in the scouting report linked above, Rankins struggles to maintain gap discipline at times. Improvement in this area, however, could really go a long way for Rankins and the entire New Orleans Saints defense.
Linebacker: Demario Davis – Tier 4
Signing Demario Davis this offseason was something I did not expect. With many names already competing in the linebacker rotation, the addition was a pleasant one, but didn’t seem necessary.
Coming in as the 101st biggest cap hit at linebacker this year, Davis is a nice value for what he brings to the New Orleans Saints. A solid veteran with six years of experience, Davis brings a nose for the football in the run game, a run game that was ranked 23rd in efficiency in 2017.
However, Davis is listed at tier four due to his limitations in the passing game. With limited abilities in man coverage, Davis should be a part of a rotation that allows him to come off the field in guaranteed passing downs. With the New Orleans Saints, he’ll be relied upon to stay on the field much more.