Now that the New Orleans Saints are getting closer to training camp, it seems proper to go ahead and try to project the 53-man roster.
After going through each position it seems like there are some heavy competition at some positions and not so much at others. The fifth spot at wide receiver and running back are both going to be very competitive and will probably come down to who plays better in preseason. Another competitive group is the offensive line.
The New Orleans Saints did a great drop of getting some very talented undrafted rookies to come in and compete. A few spots will be determined by who plays better on special teams, which is hard to figure out this early, but I tried my best. While the Saints only had five picks in this past year’s draft, expect to see more than five rookies make the 53-man roster because of how good the Saints did after the draft with undrafted players they got.
QB: Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson
RB: Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller, Tim Hightower, Travaris Cadet, Daniel Lasco
WR: Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman, Michael Thomas, Jared Dangerfield
TE: Coby Fleener, Josh Hill, Michael Hoomanawanui (TE/FB)
OT: Terron Armstead, Zach Strief, Andrus Peat (T/G)
OG: Tim Lelito Senio Kelemete, Landon Turner
C: Max Unger, Jack Allen (C/G)
DE: Cam Jordan, Hau’oli Kikaha, Davis Tull, Bobby Richardson, D.J. Pettway
DT: Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davison, Nick Fairley, John Jenkins, David Onyemata
MLB: James Laurinaitis, Nate Stupar
SLB: Stephone Anthony, Kasim Edebali
WLB: Dannell Ellerbe, Craig Robertson
CB: Keenan Lewis, Delvin Breaux, Damian Swann, P.J. Williams, Kyle Wilson
FS: Jairus Byrd, Vonn Bell, Trae Elston
SS: Kenny Vaccaro, Erik Harris
K: Connor Barth
P: Thomas Morstead
LS: Justin Drescher
The fifth running back spot came down to Travaris Cadet, Daniel Lasco, and Marcus Murphy. They all have potential and are talented. Lasco seems like if he can stay healthy he could be explosive out of the backfield, but what makes him standout between the three of them is his skills on special teams. He played it all through college and was good at it, so I think that gives him a spot. Then the way Cadet came in at the end of the season and played gives him the upper hand on beating out Murphy.
Also, Drew Brees trusts Cadet and can count on him on offense, which puts him ahead of Murphy. I’m sure Murphy won’t go out without a fight and could have got better and healthy in the offseason, so I wouldn’t count him out.
Then there is the fifth wide receiver spot, this one was really tough and could easily go to another player other than Jared Dangerfield. Players such as R.J. Harris, Kyle Prater, Jordan Williams-Lambert, and Vincent Brown all have a chance to win that spot.
The reason I went with Dangerfield was because he is a big bodied receiver with solid hands and runs good routes, but what put him above the rest in my eyes was his run blocking. With all that being said I wouldn’t be surprised if a different receiver got the fifth spot.
The offensive line has added two solid rookies in Landon Turner and Jack Allen. I think both of them will push the other players and make a competition out of the guard’s spots. Avery Young and Cyril Lemon are two players to keep an eye on. They too also have talent and could crack the 53-man roster, if not I see them going to practice squad.
When it comes to the front seven, it was a little tough because of how young most of the front seven is. Hau’oli Kikaha and Davis Tull moving from linebacker to defensive end is a good thing, although Tull may play a little bit of both. It really came down to only having two spots left, but four players that could take the spots.
The four players it was between were Kasim Edebali, Michael Mauti, Obum Gwacham, and undrafted rookie D.J. Pettway. Edebali has shown potential over the past few years, which is why he has a spot on my 53-man roster. Gwacham is one of those guys who are solid on special teams and good pass rusher on 3rd and long.
Mauti played okay last year, but I think with the additions of Nathan Stupar and Craig Robertson that could mean Mauti is the odd man out. Pettway is a good rotational player and can play both outside or inside on the defensive line, which helps him get the spot. However, I could see Mauti or Gwacham making the 53-man roster if they play well on special teams and have a good preseason. Expect some good competition at the defensive line because we all know that Sean Payton isn’t afraid to pick the undrafted rookie over a veteran.
The cornerback position is set with the first four if their healthy, but that fifth spot is open for the taking. While Kyle Wilson had some sloppy plays and had some penalties that didn’t help the Saints it seemed like he really started played well towards the end of the year. Other players like Brian Dixon, De’Vante Harris, Ken Crawley, Brandon Dixon and Jimmy Pruitt could beat him out with a solid performance at camp and pre-season, but as for now I think it is Kyle Wilson’s spot to lose.
Then there is the safety position, which have Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd, and Vonn Bell definitely making the team. As for Erik Harris and Trae Elston it is going to be a hard road for them, but I see them standing out on special teams and playing well in preseason. Harris can play both safety and weakside linebacker, which is a plus and Elston seems to make plays and around the ball a lot, which the Saints can use.
There seems to always be a player or two that comes out of nowhere to make the team and my guess is they will be D.J. Pettway and Trae Elston. That could easily change once pre-season starts, but as for now that is my guess.
I also don’t have a fullback, but I think Michael Hoomanawanui will be playing a lot of fullback and tight end. If the New Orleans Saints do decide to keep a fullback I think Austin Johnson is their guy. All that being said football season is getting closer and the 53-man roster will start getting easier to project, as for now this is who I think will make the team.