By Andrew Schuster @ShootsMcGavin on June 27, 2014
Let's be honest, the New Orleans Saints are undeniably loaded with talent after a phenomenal offseason and draft. Sean Payton and Co. are seeking to have another outstanding year in hopes of returning the Lombardi Trophy to the Crescent City. In order to do that, the organization will need solid production from the entire team, but let's take a look at five players who are absolutely irreplaceable in 2014. You may be surprised.
Keenan Lewis is only entering his second year with the Saints (previously with the Pittsburgh Steelers), but he has emerged into a solid shutdown defensive back. With the departure of Jabari Greer, Lewis is now the team’s No. 1 corner. His speed, length and ball skills make him a crucial part of that secondary in New Orleans. If anything were to happen to him, the Black and Gold would have a difficult time finding a replacement.
Curtis Lofton arrived to the Big Easy in 2012 via the Atlanta Falcons and still remains one of the most underrated inside linebackers in the NFL. He is consistent, he is intelligent, he is a leader and he is the captain of that defense. He has led the Saints in tackles the past two seasons and will likely do it again in 2014. Now that Jonathan Vilma is gone, Lofton is the glue that holds that unit together.
The offensive line has played a crucial role in the Saints’ recent success. Jahri Evans, now entering his ninth season with New Orleans, is the anchor of that unit. Drew Brees has been blessed with some of the finest protection in the game today. The 2006 fourth-round pick has emerged into the Saints’ best offensive lineman and one of the top guards in the NFL.
Since entering the league as the Saints’ No. 24 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Jordan’s consistent production has increased every year. His dominance on the line helped the Saints finish 2013 with the fourth ranked defense and rewarded him with a trip to his first of probably many Pro Bowls. The pressure that he puts on opposing quarterbacks is hard to find and is something that the team has been missing for some time now.
If it weren’t for Drew, there is no telling where this franchise would be. I could tell you where they wouldn’t be -- in contention for the Super Bowl every year. He is the most celebrated player in team history and one of the all-time greats. Wondering why there are no receivers or why Jimmy Graham is not on this list? Drew Brees. He makes everybody around him better. Props to those guys, but they would not be where they are without Drew Brees.
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