The New Orleans Saints have two of the biggest luxuries in the NFL according to ESPN.
Bill Barnwell, a staff writer for ESPN, recently pointed out 13 “luxury positions” in the NFL and two Saints players landed on his list.
Barnwell says New Orleans has the best No. 5 wide receiver in the NFL in Deonte Harty. He also thinks the Saints have the best “swing tackle” in the league in James Hurst.
Fifth wide receivers have to play special teams. Harty would have been a viable candidate as the league’s best fourth wideout, let alone as his team’s fifth option. Of course, his primary role is realistically as a return man, where he was a first-team All-Pro as a rookie in 2019.
Harty is never going to be a top-tier wideout, but the 24-year-old was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise-frustrating Saints offense a year ago. With four different quarterbacks at the helm, Harty was more impactful than you would think in his role as an occasional deep threat. When he was on the field, he was targeted at the fifth-highest rate in football among wideouts (30.1%) and produced the fourth-most yards per route run (2.91) at the position. He produced four plays of 45 yards or more and averaged nearly 16 yards per catch.
From ESPN on Hurst:
The Saints lost much of their veteran depth before the 2021 season because of cap concerns, but general manager Mickey Loomis managed to keep Hurst. The former Ravens lineman was vital last season, playing 86% of New Orleans’ offensive snaps and starting each of its final 15 games. With stars Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk both missing time, Hurst started eight times at left tackle, three at right tackle, two at left guard and two as a sixth offensive lineman.
These are luxury positions for the Saints because they aren’t must-haves. Not having a solid No. 5 wide receiver or a great swing tackle isn’t going to keep a team out of the playoffs.
However, having those luxuries could be the difference between a deep playoff run or getting bounced early.
New Orleans is going to be an interesting team to watch this fall. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have basically been crowned the division champs before the season’s even started. But the Saints will be no pushover this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if New Orleans gives the Bucs a run for their money in the NFC South this season.
Featured image via Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports