We have made much about the talent throughout the New Orleans Saints roster this offseason. Armed with a Pro Bowl-caliber at every position, the Saints are at the top of the heap of NFL favorites to win the Super Bowl. Another reason for this is the incredible depth that New Orleans has at nearly every position. That depth has allowed the Saints to withstand a rash of injuries over each of the last three seasons to go 37-11 and win three NFC South titles.
Drew Brees, WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara, DE Cameron Jordan, LB Demario Davis, and CB Marshon Lattimore (among others) are still somewhat underrated in their own right but respected and recognizable names throughout the league. A championship team is not solely made up of star talent at the top of a roster but also by the strength of the middle part of its team. Here are four of the Saints' most underrated players whose contributions may not be noticed by the average fan, but whose efforts are greatly appreciated by their teammates and coaches.
TREY HENDRICKSON (DE)
Hendrickson doesn't have the most impressive stat line; 7.5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, 20 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, and 48 tackles in three seasons. He is a dependable DE with a non-stop motor. Hendrickson is coming off his most productive season, 5.5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits and 19 pressures, since being a 3rd round selection in the 2017 draft. The 6’4” 270-Lb Hendrickson plays with a relentless pursuit to the ball carrier and is a key part of the New Orleans defensive line rotation.
JOSH HILL (TE)
The 30-Yr old Hill will never put up the lofty receiving numbers of the stars throughout the league at the TE position, including those from his teammate, Jared Cook. He has averaged just 15 receptions for 146 yards during his seven years in the league. The 6’5” 250-Lb Hill's greatest value lies in his blocking ability, where he is essentially an extension of the team's offensive line. He also adds value as a receiver in short-yardage situations and near the goal line, where he has earned QB Drew Brees' trust in crucial moments. Seventy-one of Hill's 108 career catches (65.7%) have resulted in either a touchdown or 1st down, and he had career highs in receptions (25) and yardage (226) in 2019.
ANDRUS PEAT (LG)
Many New Orleans fans will hate to hear this, but the 26-Yr old Peat has been a key part of the team's offensive success over the last four seasons. Drafted by the Saints with the 13th overall pick of the 2015 draft as a tackle, the 6’7” 316-Lb Peat found a home at LG after some early struggles outside. He has terrific mobility for his size, allowing him to get outside quickly or to the second level of defense to spring big plays. Peat has handled some of the league's best interior pass rushers while helping QB Drew Brees operate from a clean pass pocket. He also has the versatility to fill in capably at LT when starter Terron Armstead has missed time with injury. After playing well enough to be a Pro Bowl alternate the last two years, the Saints re-signed Peat to a lucrative five-year contract extension this offseason.
CRAIG ROBERTSON (LB)
After being first or second on the team in tackles his first two seasons with New Orleans, the 32-Yr old Robertson selflessly stepped into the role as a key backup and special teams contributor last two years. Capable of playing any of the LB spots, Robertson can fill-in as a spot starter with little drop-off in play. A special teams captain, he is a vital performer for the unit and has mentored the younger Saints players as a team leader.
The New Orleans Saints are a star-studded team with as much or more talent as anyone in the National Football League. But their success also has just as much to do with key role players and underrated depth. Players like Hendrickson, Hill, Peat, and Robertson, who can make the key plays in crucial moments in a game, can be the difference between a win or a loss.