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New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers

Southern Comfort: Getting to know the 2021 New Orleans Saints

Can the Saints stay relevent without Drew Brees...and others?

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Drew Brees is hands down the best quarterback to ever play for the New Orleans Saints, right? I think any fan, especially those who have witnessed Brees’ tormenting of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the years, would likely agree.

Starting in 2021 though, the Saints are turning a new course, and they’re doing it without a Brees pushing them in the right direction. See what I did there?

Ok, will it be Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill? This is the question. Getting caught up on all things Saints for the Locked On Bucs Podcast, I asked this question to Locked On Saints host, Ross Jackson.

“For me, I still have Jameis ahead when it comes to this quarterback competition,” Jackson said. “I mean he has the NFL experience - Taysom Hill so far with only the four games (started) - but this is a legitimate quarterback competition and if Jameis wins it doesn’t mean that Taysom’s not going to take snaps at quarterback. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s going to be both of them, and that it’s going to be a two-quarterback system, but I do think you’re going to see Taysom Hill get some snaps under center on third downs...”

For Jackson though, this battle isn’t even the biggest storyline surrounding the team right now. Instead, it’s the long list of contributors missing from full team activities for one reason or another.

Michael Thomas’ recent surgery on an injury suffered last September against the Buccaneers has the star receiver out 12-16 weeks. Then there’s Marshon Lattimore’s pending punishment coming down stemming from an offseason arrest which could cost the team’s number one cornerback some games. Pile that on top of the fact the team lost their second corner Janoris Jenkins this offseason as well.

Oh, and then there’s the suspension of defensive tackle David Onyematta the Saints are dealing with trying to cover down for.

So a lot going on with the defending NFC South champions. A team whose stock appears to be falling just as quickly as Tampa Bay’s did last season.

This wasn’t all we talked about though, so let’s dive deeper into the conversation.

KEY LOSSES

Drew Brees is gone, this we’ve covered. But he isn’t alone. The biggest loss according to Jackson comes in the form of a player we just mentioned; cornerback, Janoris Jenkins.

“He was great for them last season, he had one of the biggest plays to start off the opening season with a pick-six on the out route (against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers)...he was a big loss for the Saints, not just because of his play at the cornerback positions, but being a veteran secondary piece along with Malcolm Jenkins...”

KEY ADDITIONS

There aren’t a lot of additions to this team outside of the NFL Draft, but one guy who could make an impact on the 2021 Saints squad is a defensive addition they signed from the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason.

“Tanoh Kpassagnon now all of the sudden has a specific role that he might potentially fill, and he’s getting a lot of work during camp out on the edge, but he has a lot of experience playing on the interior,” said Jackson. “And we reference David Onyematta being suspended for the first six games - so the first seven weeks because the Saints have a bye week, Week 6 - his ability to be able to play inside and out could potentially give him a ton of snaps in this Saints defense...”

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

NFL DRAFT

Round 1, Pick 28: DE, Payton Turner (Houston)

Round 2, Pick 60: LB, Pete Werner (Ohio State)

Round 3, Pick 76: CB, Paulson Adebo (Stanford)

Round 4, Pick 133: QB, Ian Book (Notre Dame)

Round 6, Pick 206: OT, Landon Young (Kentucky)

Round 7, Pick 255: WR, Kawaan Baker (South Alabama)

Pete Werner is going to be my favorite pick in this class, and even with the return of Kwon Alexander to New Orleans, I believe the rookie will be able to carve out a solid role for himself in 2021.

For Jackson, the third-round selection of Paulson Adebo stood out the most. Partially due to his performance and potential, and also because of the need at the position in New Orleans.

WHERE DO THE 2021 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS STACK UP IN THE NFC SOUTH?

“I expect the Saints to be appropriately favorited as maybe the number two team. Only because Atlanta did like nothing to their defense at all, and I’m baffled by that. They added Kyle Pitts which I think is outstanding, they put a little bit more focus on the offensive line, they brought in Mike Davis...but they just did not fix that defense...(and) I’m sorry but I just do not believe in Sam Darnold in Carolina. That’s a tough one for me to buy.”

To listen to the entire conclusion of my conversation with Ross Jackson, check out this episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast

Poll

Where will the New Orleans Saints finish in the NFC South in 2021?

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