Saints must keep building a young offensive core that can carry them into the future

The New Orleans Saints have a few promising young players on offense but they must continue to build up the young offensive core.

New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

The New Orleans Saints didn’t have the season they were hoping to have in 2023, going 9-8 and missing the postseason, however, some good did come out of the season. New Orleans has to be excited about what it saw from its talented young weapons— primarily Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed.

Olave, a 2022 first-round pick, proved himself as a rookie, catching 72 passes for 1042 yards and four touchdowns. In 2023, he took those numbers up to 87 receptions for 1,123 yards and five touchdowns, carving out his role as the team’s No. 1 receiver.

Rashid Shaheed, on the other hand, signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent.. However, he made a name for himself as a return specialist and a contributing receiver. In 2023, Shaheed broke out as a receiver improving his rookie receiving stats of 28 catches for 488 yards and two touchdowns to 46 receptions for 719 yards, and five touchdowns. Shaheed also made his first Pro Bowl.

As good as Olave and Shaheed were, the Saints still have a lot of work to do when it comes to building their young offensive core. Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report recently ranked the offensive building blocks of all 32 teams. Building blocks were determined as “developing players at or below the age of 25, and focusing primarily on 2023 production combined with trajectory.”

With that criteria in mind, the Saints were ranked at No. 22 and grouped with the-jury-is-still-out teams.

Saints young offensive core ranked 22nd in NFL

Gagnon had this to say about New Orleans’ offensive building blocks:

"They're saved by the young receiving duo of Chris Olave (23) and Rashid Shaheed (25), because 24-year-old offensive linemen Cesar Ruiz and Trevor Penning have simply not gotten it done."

Brad Gagnon (Bleacher Report)

It’s hard to argue with that assessment. While Olave and Shaheed are shining lights, the rest of the offense is made up of established veterans or underwhelming younger players. There are also a couple of young guys who had promising flashes and could grow into consistent contributors.

Two players who fit that category are wide receiver A.T. Perry and running back Kendre Miller. Both rookies came on strong at the end of the season. Perry finished the year with 12 receptions for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Miller had 41 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown. If both players can carry over the momentum into next season, that’ll certainly boost the quality of the young building blocks.