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Most intriguing positional battles for the New Orleans Saints

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Cornerback

May 29, 2014; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste (33) during offseason team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We finally got our wish during the offseason. The Saints landed free agent cornerback Brandon Browner, which helps give a true shutdown corner presence opposite of Keenan Lewis. The team also filled the void left by Patrick Robinson’s departure by bringing in Kyle Wilson, formerly of the New York Jets. As of right now, these three figure to be the frontrunners, with Wilson potentially handling a lot of the slot duties. Browner does take that slot role at times, depending on the looks.

Like the receiver position, we’re staring at a lot of youth with promising upside. For starters, you have CFL prospect Delvin Breaux entering the equation, who was drew a lot of interest leaving the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Breaux’s journey is extremely encouraging and uplifting, and the team could really have something special with his skills.

You then look to a lot of second year players: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Brian Dixon, and Terrence Frederick. Now, understand that Frederick isn’t necessarily entering his second year in the NFL, but is with the Saints. He previously played two games in 2012 for the New York Giants, and then found a home on the Saints active roster in December after bouncing around several practice squads. He’s more of a hybrid type player in the secondary, and tallied 16 tackles in the final three games of the season.

Brian Dixon had an incident down in Miami, which ultimately led to his arrest. The whole situation seems bogus, and Dixon even accused the Miami PD with racial bias. He played in sixteen games last season, and primarily appeared on special teams. Dixon figures to gain an increased role.

Enter the biggest mystery of the Saints secondary for the new season, Stanley Jean-Baptiste. The team used a second round selection (58th overall) on the Nebraska corner, but Jean-Baptiste saw four games and eight total snaps last season. Sean Payton stated that the team knew he was going to be a developmental player when they drafted him. You should look past last season, and be thankful that the Saints didn’t rush him onto the field. I cited Chicago’s Kyle Fuller and Washington’s David Amerson as perfect examples as to why. If you also remember, it was Jean-Baptiste who was beat in coverage during the Week 7 fallout against the Detroit Lions.

The Saints drafted two cornerbacks, P.J. Williams (Florida State) and Damian Swann (Georgia), and did not gain any new players through the undrafted rookie pool. Williams was considered a steal in the third round, and Swann brings versatility to the team in the way of special teams return duties.

Browner and Lewis are the locks, but the rest of the players will battle it out for Rob Ryan’s squad. I’m most interested in seeing how Dennis Allen helps in this equation. Under his first tenure with the Saints, Allen helped develop the secondary, and it was evident.

Next: Quarterback

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