BYU connection could prove huge for Saints
As the frenetic pace of NFL free agency pursuits and signings continue on a daily basis, the New Orleans Saints continue to restructure contracts while retooling their roster with the clear goal of returning to winning ways and winning the deficient NFC South in 2023.
Each year is different and perhaps the NFC South will be improved from a year ago.
The Saints are certainly counting on being improved and are counting on ending two years away from the top of the division after winning it four straight times.
While more moves are certain to be made and with the draft certain to impact the quality of the roster, it is nearly certain that the team will be without Alvin Kamara for a significant period of time in 2023.
The team is still likely to add a running back either in free agency or the draft but the Saints took a huge step forward Wednesday with the signing of Jamaal Williams.
Ironically, Williams, like Kamara, is entering his seventh season in the league.
Both entered the NFL in 2017, Williams as a fourth-round pick and Kamara as a third-round selection.
Kamara is the more accomplished, more versatile player, a talented runner and receiver who has rushed for 5,135 yards and 49 touchdowns while catching 430 passes for 3,753 yards and 22 scores.
Williams has rushed for 3,652 yards and 30 touchdowns and has 160 receptions for 1,191 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a pure running back, not counted on much in the receiving game.
On balance, there is no real comparison but they are decidedly different players and both are good.
Kamara made an instant impact in his rookie season and has been big hit for the Saints.
While Williams made an impact upon arrival in Detroit, he did not truly blossom until the 2022 season.
Williams rushed 262 times for a career high 1,066 yards and led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns last season. Williams had three fumbles.
Kamara rushed 223 times for 897 yards and a career low two scores last season. Kamara had four fumbles.
With Kamara absent and with the return of Michael Thomas, if he can get healthy, there is a trade-off of sharing the wealth and skill players to rely on.
Add Williams to the mix and that helps offset, helps mitigate the void left by Kamara.
While Williams, Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and Juwan Johnson will be counted on to make plays, there is still the ominous presence of Taysom Hill.
When Hill is involved in substantive fashion in the game plan and gets 10 touches or more in any capacity, good things typically result for the Saints.
It will be interesting to see if Dennis Allen and Pete Carmichael continue to give Hill a decent number of snaps at quarterback with Derek Carr in the fold, rather than Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston.
Of course, Hill got those snaps when Drew Brees, one of the best to ever play the position, was here so that expectation remains.
When Hill does, he will be reunited with Williams, a former teammate at BYU.
September 2013 – BYU rushes for 550 yards in a W over Texas
🔥 Taysom Hill – 259
🔥 Jamaal Williams – 182
— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 15, 2021
In 2016 with the Cougars, Williams rushed 234 times for 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught seven passes for 80 yards.
In 2016 with the Cougars, Hill completed 222 of 372 passes for 2,323 yards and 12 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and he rushed 137 times for 603 yards and eight scores.
The two were permanent team captains that season for BYU as the Cougars went 9-4 after opening the season 1-3.
Taysom Hill + Jamaal Williams in the NFL!!! #BYU https://t.co/SqC7RAf6wS pic.twitter.com/gG29NnJxCv
— Nick Lee (@NickLee51) March 15, 2023
Seven years later, the duo rides in unison again with both expected to provide the primary punch in the run game for the Saints.
New Orleans is hoping the reunion proves to be a very successful union at the highest level.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…