Like the cornerbacks, the safeties struggled last year in the man-to-man coverage schemes. This season, the safeties will be able to play true center field roles with their their eyes on the quarterback. It has already shown signs of working when free safety Malcolm Jenkins got an interception on the second play of the first preseason game. He didn't have a single interception last season.
There are currently six safeties on the Saints' roster. This includes both "strong" and "free" safeties. Four of the six are returning Saints veterans, and the other two are undrafted rookies. The Saints usually carry four safeties throughout the season, but there is a possibility they will keep five.
Make the jump to see my predictions for the Saints' safeties this season. Afterwards, stop by in the comment section below.
Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper
Malcolm is one of team sleeper picks for this season. I really expect him to thrive under Steve Spagnuolo's new system. He has consistently been a leader in tackles on the team, but he hasn't been one to grab a lot of interceptions yet. Being able to take on the center field role should be to his benefit.
In my opinion, Harper was the team's defensive MVP last year. He led the team in tackles with 95, and sacks with 7.5. As a safety, that is very impressive. It is highly doubtful that he will still have the blitzing role this year, but he still should be able to stay productive.
Last year, Abdul-Quddus was another example of an undrafted rookie making the final roster for the Saints. Throughout the season, he mainly contributed to the team on special teams, but he did appear on the defense for some plays. Isa struggled in coverage a little bit last year, but he has looked impressive so far this preseason.
Amaya was the man that was made famous by being involved in the Reggie Bush trade. Like Abdul-Quddus, Amaya was a special teams player the majority of the time. Hopefully he has gotten a grasp of the new scheme because he will be expected to play strong safety a lot more this season.
On the Bubble
Based on stats alone, Jose Gumbs looks as though he would have a good chance to squeeze into the final roster. At Monmouth, Gumbs led the team in tackles all four of his season. He finished with 306 total tackles. Playing for such a small school may hurt his stock, although the Saints do take chances on players from small schools.
On the other hand, Jerico Nelson has had the benefit of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the SEC. He finished his career in Arkansas with 267 total tackles and 4 interceptions. Due to the fact that he has played against bigger and better players, I think Nelson has a better shot at making the team.