The Saints carried seven linebackers on their final 53-man roster to start the 2010 season and with so many of them playing significant roles on special teams, I would imagine the Saints will probably keep that many again this season.
Today we're taking a look at the thirteen linebackers probably competing for a job this summer/fall, ignoring any free agency or lockout implications that exist or may arise in the near future. Make the jump to see exactly who's currently on the roster and to get my opinion on where they stand as far as their chances of making the team this year. Of course I want to hear your opinions on the subject as well.
Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle, Jonathan Casillas, Martez Wilson
We certainly don't need to discuss Vilma's presence here. In fact, as of right now, I'd say Vilma is the team's defensive coordinator. As much as many fans may dislike Scott Shanle, he's definitely not going anywhere. Perhaps this is the year he loses his starter status, but he definitely won't be cut from the team. Casillas earned himself a starting spot last season before getting injured so I would imagine he's a shoe-in for a roster spot this year. And Wilson is only definite because even if he performs poorly during training camp, I think the team will keep him around at least another year for development.
Marvin Mitchell, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Danny Clark
Mitchell has solidified himself as a decent backup to middle man Jonathan Vilma and plays significantly on special teams. His job is probably safe. Dunbar is another special teams ace who continues to rise and is coming off his best season so far, starting eight games in 2010. Veteran linebacker Danny Clark is great at stuffing the run but is lacking in pass protection. With young talent now added to the mix, he could easily be out of a job when training camp ends.
On the Bubble
Anthony Waters, Stanley Arnoux, Kawika Mitchell, Nate Bussey
Anthony Waters will need to continue contributing on special teams if he wants to keep a spot on the Saints roster this season. Stanley Arnoux has had a difficult time staying healthy since being drafted by the Saints. He has yet to complete a full season, though last year he played nine games on special teams. Mitchell was a late season addition to the linebacking corp last year but he's a veteran with leadership skills and pass coverage ability. We haven't seen anything from 2011 7th round draft pick Nate Bussey.
Ezra Butler, Ramon Humber
To be honest I know very little about either of these guys but I don't think they've got a very good shot at cracking the lineup. If they've got any chance, it will be through solid special teams contributions. Humber has a little experience with the Saints and Colts the past two years but Butler has little to none to fall back on.