It’s common for the faithful fans of teams to look towards free agency and the NFL draft for signs of hope and improvement. The NFL draft brings in “new blood” to the program and free-agent signings look to fill gaps with proven players. However, even though the Saints have picked up possible starters via both avenues this year, they also have a fresh crop of talent already wearing the Black and Gold, which will be counted upon come Sundays in the fall.

There’s a type of movie scene that has been used so much that it’s now a cliché. It usually rears its ugly head in bad melodramas or movies of the week. It always involves the hero – sometimes talking to an old mentor, or sometimes a wise child – learning a valuable lesson. One that he or she has been blinded to all along, usually because they were too hostile, or too narrow-sighted, or too…you get the picture. After failing time and time again; the old mentor (now blind), or wise child, or sometimes a magical elf, will tell said hero that the lesson they needed to learn, “was in their heart the entire time.” At which time the magical elf, or maybe some other type of talking woodland creature, will touch the hero’s heart – possibly with a cane.

Then the hero, now enlightened, goes and beats a bunch of people up.

Which is just my usual way of saying, “Hey. The Saints have a lot of talent on their roster.” So, here are a few second-year guys that will have a big impact on the Saints season this year.

 

Hidden In The RanksDavis Tull (6’3’’, 240 lbs.) – DE

Speaking of talking woodland creatures, Tull is out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he feasted upon nearly everything that crossed his path. Tull was named Southern Conference player of the year three years straight. Tull recorded 29 unassisted sacks over his last three seasons for the Mocs and, before you cry “inferior competition,” Tull held his own versus the Tennessee Volunteers where he chalked up seven tackles (two for loss) and a sack. Tull, a “big energy” guy, has a quick first step and is relentless to the ball.

He also has bad timing with injuries. Tull broke his leg during his senior year of high school football, which scared away a few schools. Then in his senior year in college he tore his labrum. The Saints liked what they saw and made the long play, placing Tull on Injured Reserve last season. A move the Saints hope pays big dividends in 2016. Tull is battling, and some say is slightly behind, Obum Gwacham and Kasim Edebali to start as the edge defender, but it’s a tight race.

 

PJ Williams (6’0’’, 196 lbs.) – DB

If you’re not worried about the depth of the Saints secondary then send me whatever you’re drinking. I don’t want to rush but – again – Keenan Lewis (still on the Physically Unable to Play list), Damian Swann and Jairus Byrd’s health all are question marks. Thankfully we have P.J. Williams, who missed last year with an injured hamstring.

Hopefully all of the other guys can put their injuries behind them as well as Williams, who had a scintillating camp that has the faithful drooling over the prospect of Williams and Delvin Breaux locking down the corners for years to come.

Williams has done everything the Saints have asked and highlighted his camp with some interceptions and pass breakups to end drives against the vaunted Saints offense. The last time we saw Williams in a live game was when he was being named Defensive MVP in the BCS Championship for Florida State.

 

Hidden In The RanksTyeler Davison (6’2’’, 309 lbs.) – DT

It’s always easy to get excited about new players in the flashy positions (I see you, Michael Thomas!), but if the Saints are to make a real playoff push, it will be due to their improved play on the defensive line.

The interior rotation will feature first-round draft pick Sheldon Rankins, former first-rounder Nick Fairley, the massive John Jenkins, and second-year man Tyeler Davison – who might be having the best camp of them all.

Depth charts don’t mean anything during camp but repetitions do, and Davison has been getting plenty of reps with the first stringers. Davison had five starts last year and appeared in every game. This camp, the majority of the time he’s lining up at nose guard and has created havoc on the Saints center and guard play.

 

​Andrus Peat (6’7’’, 316 lbs.) – OL

I was going to name this section, “In Defense of Andrus Peat,” because – come on, folks. Here’s some news – a ton of lineman aren’t ready to dazzle in their rookie season and, even more so, having to play a new position at the NFL level can’t help either. So, let’s pull back the fangs, shall we?

After starting eight games at four different positions last year, Peat needs to either beat Zach Strief for the right tackle position or beat Tim Lelito out at guard. Easier said than done, but Peat has had a good camp filling in for an injured Terron Armstead at left tackle. With the return of Armstead, we will see what Peat can do in the coming weeks. Let’s just give him a chance.

 

The Black and Gold travel north for a couple of joint practices with New England before the teams suit up in Foxboro for their first pre-season game of the year on Aug. 11, at 6:30 p.m. CST.

Football is back, folks!

 

And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.

 

Beer Pairing: Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager

Playlist Recommendation: Earth, Wind & Fire – “Shining Star

 

Around the Way

Hidden In The RanksLouisiana-native Langston Galloway recently signed with the New Orleans Pelicans and his first play as a team member couldn’t be greater. Galloway, who graduated from Christian Life Academy, held a youth basketball camp in Baton Rouge promoting family and being a student-athlete, according to nba.com. Over a 100 kids, ranging from 5th to 12th grade, attended the free one-day camp.

On the local front, the West Bank’s own Keenan Lewis recently held a youth football camp at Tad Gormley Stadium in Uptown. The Keenan Lewis Foundation hosted 200 kids, where they received some football instruction and school supplies. The foundation holds charity fundraisers throughout the year. You can keep track of events and/or become a member at TheKeenanLewisFoundation.org.

Kudos to Galloway and Lewis for giving back to the communities that have given them so much.