Now that the 2011 NFL Draft is over, the Saints roster is set until the lockout is lifted and free agency can begin in earnest. The Saints are deep at some positions and thin at a few others. But I would say the most notable position that needs to be addressed by the team before they kick off against the Packers on opening night* is most definitely tight end.
Sophomore tight end Jimmy Graham is almost assuredly the starter for 2011. He impressed everyone last year as a rookie and assuming he's been putting in the work and playbook study this off-season, he's a lock to see the most playing time among all tight ends. Behind him would be David Thomas, who is by no means short of talent himself. Technically, however, Thomas is not under contract but I think it's safe to assume that re-signing him is high on the priority list for Mickey Loomis and company this off-season.
That leaves only Tory Humphrey and Tyler Lorenzen as tight ends on the current roster and technically, Humphrey isn't even officially under contract. Still, I would expect him to be in training camp this summer battling it out for one of those final roster sports.
No disrespect to either Humphrey or Lorenzen but personally I think the Saints really need to upgrade and/or add a little depth here. The team will certainly need to carry at least three tight ends on the final roster, if not four, which means the coaches won't have much to choose from if everything remains the same. So I think we should definitely expect the team to add a little training camp competition before making their final roster decision for 2011.
So who can we expect the Saints to bring in for depth? Here's a quick look at potentially available free agents and undrafted rookie free agents.
Potential Free Agents
Bo Scaife - Titans
Desmond Clark - Bears
Reggie Kelly - Bengals
Robert Royal - Browns
Daniel Graham - Broncos
Donald Lee - Packers
Ben Hartsock - Jets
Randy McMichael - Chargers
Chris Baker - Seahawks
John Gilmore - Buccaneers
Potential Undrafted Free Agents
Mike McNeill - Nebraska
Weslye Saunders - South Carolina
Andre Smith - Virginia Tech
Zack Pianalto - North Carolina
Cameron Graham - Louisville
So assuming Sean Payton doesn't think his third and possibly fourth string tight end(s) are already "in the building," who would you like to see the team bring in to compete for the job? And who do you think will win the job as the Saints third string tight end for the 2011 season?
*Season may not actually happen.