The Saints have ended a streak of three straight 7-9 seasons and found themselves hosting a playoff game on Sunday. And the keys to that turnaround arrived in the last weekend of April, when the Saints brought together one of the best rookie classes in NFL history.
The draft class in New Orleans is headed by first-round pick Marshon Lattimore and third-round pick Alvin Kamara, the favorites to be the NFL’s defensive and offensive rookies of the year. It’s been 50 years since a team has had both the offensive rookie of the year and the defensive rookie of the year in the same season.
But Lattimore and Kamara aren’t the only stellar rookies on the Saints. Their second first-round pick, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, started all 16 games. Their second-round pick, safety Marcus Williams, started 15 games. Their second third-round pick, linebacker Alex Anzalone, started the first four games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Their third third-round pick, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, contributed as a situational pass rusher before suffering an ankle injury. Undrafted rookie running back Trey Edmunds has played in all 16 games. Undrafted rookie cornerback Justin Hardee played in 14 games.
Rookie classes like that don’t come along often. The Saints got younger and better this year.