Saints Post-2021 NFL Draft State of the Roster: Defensive Line

Cameron Jordan #94 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Cameron Jordan #94 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Saints defensive line took a hit this offseason, losing Malcolm Brown, Trey Hendrickson, and Sheldon Rankins in free agency. Brown signed with the Jaguars, Hendrickson is onto Cincinnati, and Rankins is ready to fly with the Jets.

There’s still a season to be played, however, and the Saints defensive line needs to figure out how they’re going to rebound from this. Here are the d-linemen currently listed on the official roster:

  • Josiah Bronson
  • Jalen Dalton
  • Marcus Davenport
  • Ryan Glasgow
  • Carl Granderson
  • Albert Huggins
  • Cameron Jordan
  • Tanoh Kpassagnon
  • Lorenzo Neal
  • David Onyemata
  • Christian Ringo
  • Malcolm Roach
  • Noah Spence
  • Payton Turner
  • Shy Tuttle

The Saints have a whole new defensive line to work with.

Out of this group, we can easily pick who the starters will be. Jordan is a lock and for good reason, as he continues to be a wrecking ball on defense. Davenport will be the other EDGE rusher and if he wants to shed that bust label, this season would be a good time to do it.

Onyemata is another surefire starter after recording 6.5 sacks last year. The former fourth-round pick out of Manitoba is entering his sixth year with the Saints. Tuttle will likely join him on the inside and is entering year three with the Saints after they signed him as a UDFA following the 2019 NFL Draft.

As for the backups, Turner is a lock considering the Saints spent a first-round pick on him and he’s admired now-teammate Jordan for quite some time. Drafting Turner in the first round seemed like a puzzling move but the hope is that Turner can be what Davenport hasn’t been. Maybe both guys will show up in a big way in 2021.

The Saints also signed Kpassagnon away from the Chiefs this offseason. He’s a former second-round pick by Kansas City (out of Villanova of all places) and got off to a slow start with the Chiefs. He had just one sack last year but totaled four in 2019. He’s a nice rotational piece for this defense.

Granderson had a big year last year despite going undrafted out of Wyoming in 2019. He had five sacks and definitely will make the team this year. That likely leaves two open spots between the rest of the guys on the roster.

Dalton is someone who appeared destined for a backup role a year ago before a knee injury prevented him from playing. Glasgow spent 2020 with the Saints and knows the defense on some level. Roach had 16 tackles and is another player who went undrafted. Spence is a former second-round pick who hasn’t played since 2019 but provides untapped potential.

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The New Orleans Saints defensive line has a new look but there’s still enough talent there that this group might look okay without some of its hardest hitters from a season ago.