NOLA Saints: 2 players make NFL.com’s 2021 All-Under-25 Team
The New Orleans Saints have talented young players on their team and this was recognized by Nick Shook of NFL.com, who included two members of the Saints for his 2021 All-Under-25 Team. The rules are pretty simple — The player has to be under 25 and the best in the league at his position.
The two Saints who made it were center Erik McCoy and return specialist Deonte Harris.
Here’s what Shook had to say about McCoy’s inclusion on the team:
"The 2019 second-round pick has started all 35 games in which he’s appeared (including playoffs), and he was highly dependable in 2020, allowing just 15 total pressures and one sack on 677 pass-blocking snaps. When early picks hit like McCoy has, it makes sustaining success significantly easier for perennial contenders like New Orleans."
It feels like the Saints always take offensive linemen in the early rounds of the draft and fans are always puzzled by it but it works out more often than not. McCoy’s selection is another example of that, as he’s been a tremendous addition to the o-line and is clearly at the top of the pack when it comes to the center position.
Here’s what Shook said about putting Harris on the team:
"Anyone who thought Harris would be a one-year wonder were proven wrong in 2020. Sure, he didn’t return a punt for a touchdown like he did as a rookie and missed time with a neck injury, but he was even more effective on a per-return basis, elevating his average from 9.4 yards as a rookie to 12.2 in Year 2. He was on pace to finish among the top 10 in both punt return average and kickoff return average prior to his injury. Harris also became more of a factor in the passing game, catching 20 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown after making just 6 grabs for 24 yards in 2019. Harris was able to get his foot in the door in his rookie year, and now he’s kicked it open."
People forget about the return specialists but the fact of the matter is that the Saints have it good there, especially with Harris in his prime. He was named an All-Pro returner during his rookie year in 2019 for the season he had and it was well-deserved.
The former UDFA out of Assumption has been a terrific special teams player for New Orleans and as Shook noted, would have been a top 10 player had he not gotten injured.
The NOLA Saints are lucky to have Erik McCoy and Deonte Harris.
Both of these guys are already proving how talented they are and they’re doing so at a young age. Harris is 23 years old and won’t turn 24 until December while McCoy turns 24 in August. The Saints have to be pleased with what these two have been able to accomplish.
McCoy adds to what’s already a stacked offensive line and the even better part about him is that he adds versatility to this group. He could easily slide over to one of the guard positions if the Saints needed him to do that.
Harris gives the Saints a huge boost in the return game and he showed that as a rookie. Yes, injuries “slowed him down” in 2020 but it was hard to top the season he had in 2019.
Here’s to these two only getting better and landing on a similar list this time next year.