The official site of the NFL has released their All-Under 25 Team for the 2021 season. The requirements for this list were simply that the player had to be younger than 25 before the kickoff of the new NFL season, September 9th. The list includes a starting lineup for every position, including special teams. The New Orleans Saints are represented well on this team. Although, it can be argued that there was a snub. These are the two Saints players who made the All-Under 25 Team for NFL.com and the one who missed out.
Saints All-Under 25 Team Members
A Budding Star Along the Line
The only Saints player to make the team on offense was lineman Erik McCoy. McCoy mostly plays at the center position, with guard experience as well. The Saints continuing to bolster the offensive line tradition in the Sean Payton era. Recently, the Saints had both of their tackles included on the Pro Football Focus top-50 players of 2021. McCoy now makes this team, further cementing the status of the Saints offensive line being amongst the best in the game.
Erik McCoy was a second-round pick in the 2019 draft out of the University of Texas and has started every game his first two seasons. During this time, McCoy allowed just 15 total pressures and one sack in the past two full seasons, according to Nick Shook. McCoy’s consistency cannot be understated, especially for a young player. In 2019, McCoy was responsible for eight penalties on the year, including five holding calls. In 2020, McCoy played more snaps and had only three accepted penalties with two holding calls. The Saints offense thrives on complexity and adjustments, something McCoy has had no trouble keeping up with. McCoy cements the Saints offensive line’s perennial greatness with his play the past two years.
Special Teams Ace
The other player to make the NFL All-Under 25 Team is special teams ace Deonte Harris. Harris, an undrafted free agent signing after the 2019 NFL Draft, made an immediate impact with the Saints. In his first year, Harris made the Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro team. Harris returned both punts and kickoffs which helps his case for this new team. He had a slightly down year in 2020 mostly due to injury but still improved his average on both kick and punt returns. In his Pro-Bowl season, Harris averaged 9.4 yards per punt return and 26.8 on kickoffs. Last season, these numbers improved to 12.2 and 27.3, respectively. Harris also began playing more offensive snaps in 2020. Harris played over 100 more offensive snaps last season than in 2019. He will likely continue to grow in the Sean Payton offense next season, further cementing his placement on this list.
All-Under 25 Team Snub
The biggest snub for the Saints has to be safety Marcus Williams. One of the things that might have kept him off the list is his birthday. Williams will be 25 on September 8, just a day under the stated age restriction above. It’s possible that Williams was overlooked simply because of this incredibly thin difference. Williams’ play certainly should have earned him this honor though. He has started 14 or more games every season he has been in the league. Since 2017, Williams has 246 tackles, 13 interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 30 passes defended. Jessie Bates and Minkah Fitzpatrick were the two safeties selected for this list. It is hard to argue against Fitzpatrick’s selection, but Bates and Williams have very similar metrics. The main difference is that Williams has played on a defense that has been good the last few years while Bates has been with the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. If winning would figure into this selection, Williams certainly deserves it over Bates.
Saints All-Under 25 Team Review
Deonte Harris and Erik McCoy certainly deserved to represent the New Orleans Saints on this year’s All-Under 25 Team for NFL.com. Both players have returned incredible value to the Saints since being drafted or signed. McCoy will look to continue the lineage of great offensive linemen in the Sean Payton era with a new quarterback in 2021. Harris will be looking for a long-term contract after this season since undrafted signees only receive three-year deals. Both of them, along with the snubbed Marcus Williams, will likely be prioritized by the Saints before they can walk in free agency. With draftees and signees such as these, it is easy to see why the Saints have had so many years of success under Sean Payton.
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