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Saints Value These Role Players' Contributions

A star-studded New Orleans team could also get vital production from these important role players.
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The New Orleans Saints have as much talent as any team in the National Football League. Stars like DE Cameron Jordan, LB Demario Davis, CB Marshon Lattimore, RB Alvin Kamara, RT Ryan Ramczyk, and WR Michael Thomas are among the league's best at their positions.

Underrated players like S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DE Marcus Davenport, DT David Onyemata, C Erik McCoy, and QB Jameis Winston don't get the respect they deserve, but are Pro Bowl level talents.

Up and coming talents like CB Paulson Adebo and LB Pete Werner look poised to become the next stars. The Saints also added high-level players in WR Jarvis Landry and safeties Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu to go along with high draft picks WR Chris Olave, OT Trevor Penning, and CB Alontae Taylor this offseason.

Receivers Deonte Harty and Marquez Callaway, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, the versatile Taysom Hill, and S P.J. Williams aren't stars, but are key contributors to the team's success.

Joining them are four other players who aren't household names, but have the ability to have a breakout year for an already loaded New Orleans squad.

CARL GRANDERSON, DE

New Orleans Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) pressures Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold (14). Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) pressures Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold (14). Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Often overlooked among the Saints deep defensive end unit, Granderson enters his fourth year with New Orleans. Undrafted as a rookie from Wyoming in 2019, he overcame legal issues as a rookie to become a quiet, but consistent part of the rotation up front.

Just 25-years-old, Granderson has 8 sacks, 26 pressures, and 8 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. That includes three sacks and career bests in pressures (15) and tackles for loss (5) in 2021. Granderson logged a career-high 448 defensive snaps last season, surpassing his combined total from his first two years.

The 6’5” and 261-Lb. Granderson has silky smooth athleticism that gives opposing blockers fits. He has impressive bend around the edge as a pass rusher, a non-stop motor, and a long-limbed frame that allows him to disrupt quarterbacks even while engaged with blockers.

Granderson's improved leverage and positioning against the run has earned him an increased playing time. New Orleans coaches feel comfortable to employ him in any situation. Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and even 2021 first-round choice Payton Turner get more notoriety at defensive end.

There's very little drop-off when Granderson is in the lineup. His productivity allows coaches to move one of the bigger edge rushers inside in obvious passing situations.

SHY TUTTLE, DT

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) tackles Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33). Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) tackles Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33). Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

Another overlooked player in the Saints disruptive defensive front. Tuttle is entering his fourth season after being signed as an undrafted rookie from Clemson.

An underrated member of the rotation since his first year, Tuttle also supplied one of the most iconic plays in franchise history with an acrobatic interception of Atlanta QB Matt Ryan.

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Tuttle has missed only three games in his New Orleans career and is coming off a career-high 494 defensive snaps in 2021. He also recorded a career best 48 tackles last season, including three stops for loss. Tuttle doesn't add much as a pass rusher. He has just two sacks and 14 pressures over three seasons.

Tuttle has the strength to push a pass pocket back and tie up blockers to free up teammates for pressures. He plays with terrific leverage and at 6’3” and 300-Lbs., is a load for any blocker one on one. Tuttle's value is as a run defender, where he consistently penetrates opposing backfields to blow up plays for one of the NFL's best run defenses.

The 26-year-old Tuttle is the unsung member of the Saints defensive front, the player who does the dirty work to free up teammates to make plays. He’ll need to improve his pass rushing output, especially coming into a contract year, but Tuttle has an importance for this defense that can't be measured on a stat sheet.

JUWAN JOHNSON, TE

Saints TE Juwan Johnson pulls in a touchdown pass from quarterback (2) Jameis Winston against the the Green Bay Packers. Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Saints TE Juwan Johnson pulls in a touchdown pass from quarterback (2) Jameis Winston against the the Green Bay Packers. Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Originally an undrafted player from Oregon by way of Penn State, Johnson enters his third year with the Saints after making the team as a rookie at wide receiver. He was converted to tight end last season, where he caught 13 passes for 159 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Still learning the position, Johnson must become better as an in-line blocker to earn more snaps. As a receiver, he’s the best combination of athletic ability and route running skills at a position that was among the league's worst last season.

Johnson, who turns 26 in September, can be an athletic mismatch for linebackers, especially from the slot. He’s a bit undersized for the position at 6’4” and 231-Lbs., but plays with tremendous strength and has a size advantage over most safeties.

Johnson has a solid chemistry with QB Jameis Winston, an undervalued trait for the offense. He had 7 receptions for 72 yards and 3 scores over the first six contests last season, before Winston was lost for the year with a knee injury.

Tight ends won't play a big role for the New Orleans passing game in 2022, but Johnson has the attributes to become the team’s prominent receiver ar the position.

BRADLEY ROBY, CB

New Orleans Saints cornerback Bradley Roby (21) during minicamp at the Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY 

New Orleans Saints cornerback Bradley Roby (21) during minicamp at the Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY 

A first-round choice by the Denver Broncos in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Roby brings valuable starting experience to the Saints secondary. He has 11 interceptions and 80 passes broken up over an eight-year career with Denver, Houston, and New Orleans that includes a Super Bowl 50 championship with the Broncos.

Roby was acquired by the Saints in an early season trade with Houston last season. He’d appear in 42% of the defensive snaps and intercept one throw, broke up five others, and record a sack and three tackles for loss. His reps were limited by the rapid development of CB Paulson Adebo, but the Saints valued him enough to restructure his contract for a return in 2022.

The 30-year-old Roby still has the man coverage ability to stick with most receivers from the slot or outside. At 5'11” and 194-Lbs., he’s a solid tackler in the open field and plays with the physicality to cover tight ends. He also has terrific awareness in off-ball duties, giving him coverage versatility in the defense.

The presence of Adebo, Marshon Lattimore, and addition of rookie CB Alontae Taylor could limit Roby's opportunities again this season. New Orleans also has a foursome of safeties in Gardner-Johnson, Mathieu, Maye, and Williams who are strong in the slot and coverage responsibilities.

Remember that Roby is still a starting quality corner. He adds to the depth of an elite secondary on one of the best defenses in the NFL. 

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