Following up from a week ago, Mark Ingram came in as our #5 top Saints from the 2016 regular season; coming in at #4, in his first year in the ‘big easy’, Craig Robertson.
2016: 115 Comb. Tackles 71, Tot. Tackles 44, Ast. Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Int.
The fifth year linebacker from the University of North Texas, “Mean Green”, is the first and only defensive player to make the top five countdown for the Saints this season. What was yet another struggling defensive campaign for New Orleans, became a career high season for Craig Robertson. After being picked up by the Browns in 2011 as an undrafted free agent, he was released as an unrestricted free agent for the 2016-17 season. Robertson appeared in 15 of 16 games for the Saints and completed his first season starting in all of his regular season appearances. Robertson has been a sort of plug-in-play player in his career and stepped in beautifully in the absence of James Laurinaitis and Dannell Ellerbe.
Craig Robertson first filled in for Ellerbe but with the release of James Laurinaitis in the middle of the season, he was forced into a large role as the middle linebacker and signal caller for the Saints. Tackling his role, literally, Robertson surpassed 100 tackles for the first time in his NFL career and led the team with 115 on the season. The Saints’ defense has been scary bad in recent years but Robertson gave them a much needed boost, as young guys started to develop, in the second half of the season. New Orleans has not had a true presence at the middle linebacker position since the departure of Jonathan Vilma in 2013and although Robertson may not be long-term answer, he was a valuable asset to the 2016 organization.
The linebacker position is definitely an area that the Saints will look to improve on this upcoming offseason. With weaknesses in the categories of speed and elusiveness, Robertson may not find himself in a starting role in 2017 but can still offer valuable minutes off the bench or in a rotation. The Saints brought him in on a very friendly contract (3-year, $5 million) for both parties and should keep him within the organization until at least 2018. New Orleans recent linebacking choices have not necessarily panned out (Stephone Anthony, Dannell Ellerbe, James Laurinaitis) and Robertson is a great security blanket at the very least.