The New Orleans Saints enter training camp with some intrigue surrounding their depth chart, and here are our top three spots for Saints fans to keep an eye on.
Training camps are about to be in full swing, and one of the most exciting aspects for fans of any team is finding out how their team's depth chart will change year over year. While it doesn't appear that the New Orleans Saints have many position battles heading into 2023 that are of THAT much consequence, but that doesn't mean they don't have any at all. Here are three that we think Saints fans should monitor this summer.
Position Battle #1: Saints Wide Receiver 4/5
The top three wide receiver spots on the depth chart seem pretty cut and dry. Michael Thomas, second-year sensation Chris Olave, and the set-to-explode Rashid Shaheed make up the top three. Beyond that though, is where things get interesting.
Veteran Tre'Quan Smith is still around, and the team is high on him since he's never afraid of gettng down and dirty. He is on a contract year though, so him getting beat out isn't out of the question. It's especially apparent when you consider the Saints drafted A.T. Perry and signed veterans Bryan Edwards and James Washington this offseason.
Keith Kirkwood, Kirk Merritt, and Shaq Davis will also be battling for the spot, and while Keke Coutee and Lynn Bowden Jr. are also still floating around, they will more likely than not earn their spots as return men.
While this spot on the roster may not be as "high profile" as the rest, when you think about that constant question marks surrounding the status of Thomas, it very well could be. That's the juicy part of the offense, now let's look at the other side of the ball.
Position Battle #2: Defensive end opposite Cameron Jordan
Cameron Jordan is a franchise legend at this point, and quite possibly the greatest defensive end this franchise has ever had. The thing is though, finding a quality starter to play on the other side of him has proven to be a tall-task, and the clock is ticking.
In a perfect world, Payton Turner will rise to the occasion, and show why the Saints made him the 21st overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. It's safe to say the team would like this to happen too, so they don't end up with another potential first-round flop at the edge.
That said, Carl Granderson appears to potentially have an inside-track on the spot, as the team is also high on what he brings to the table. Then there's Isaiah Foskey, who the Saints drafted in the second round of this year's draft out of the University of Notre Dame.
Given the parties involved, this would probably be the most monitored position battle, but considering edge rushers have become more of a committee position (as they should be since you can never have too much) the Saints should be able to live with whatever happens. The final battle we're about to get too, is definitely the most juicy though.
Position Battle #3: Outside cornerback opposite Marshon Lattimore
It's been well-documented for a while now that Paulson Abedo and Alontae Taylor are set to battle it out to see who will start opposite Marshon Lattimore as the outside cornerback for this defense, and the competition was reportedly already ramping up during OTAs.
After a stellar, and promising, rookie season in 2021, Paulson Abedo, had a bit of a downer in 2022. Meanwhile, rookie Alontae Taylor, who the Saints drafted in the second-round in 2022, showed some flashes of brilliance when given the chance. As such, he is seen by many, both local and nationally, as a potential breakout candidate. Both are young, and hungry, and it'll be interesting to see what happens.
Taylor has proven that he can thrive in the slot, so Abedo winning the outside job may be the smart money here, especially since the slot is quickly becoming one of the more crucial roles on defenses in today's NFL.
We're about to be full-speed ahead toward the 2023 NFL season, and the New Orleans Saints have the potential to make some noise in the present landscape they find themselves in. It all starts with who will be in the lineup to make that happen though, and these are the spots up in the air that we should be zeroed in on.