New Orleans Saints training camp is quickly approaching, thankfully. To mentally prepare, we're evaluating each position group to take stock of who is on the roster and determine which players are likely and not-so-likely to make the final cut.
Today we look at one of the biggest problem positions of the past few years, the cornerback. Below is my evaluation of the current crop of CBs on the roster they enter training camp. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions on the subject.
Keenan Lewis, Brandon Browner
Having been the top cornerback for the Saints the past two seasons, Keenan Lewis is here to stay. He’s been very solid, if unspectacular, when healthy, but dealt with knee issues towards the end of last season. With a full offseason to get healthy, Keenan Lewis should be penciled in as one of your starting CBs for the 2015 season.
Brandon Browner was the big defensive free agent signing of the offseason for the Saints and gives the team a considerable upgrade over the Patrick Robinson and Corey White adventure, at least on paper. With the Saints' 2014 secondary woes and the investment made to bring Browner in, he’s certainly not going to be going anywhere this season. Browner will take the field opposite Lewis as your other starting CB.
Delvin Breaux, PJ Williams
Delvin Breaux came into the offseason as the prize of the CFL. Ever since the Saints signed him, I’ve heard and seen nothing but good things. We haven’t seen him in anything close to live NFL action, but I’m buying the hype, at least enough to say he’s pretty likely to make the final roster.
Maybe a little overshadowed by the commotion created by the Garrett Grayson pick, PJ Williams was the Saints' other third round draft pick. He was a two time All-ACC selection in his collegiate career, as well as a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe award (best collegiate defensive back) following his Junior year. PJ Williams has enough talent to crack the final roster, but the competition gets pretty crowded after the top two spots.
On the Bubble
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Kyle Wilson, Brian Dixon
With four spots filled (for our purposes), that leaves probably two more main roster spots for cornerbacks, with three men having a solid shot to make their claim.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste stands tall at 6’3", unfortunately, that’s about all that we have seen from him in the NFL, since the Saints drafted him with high hopes in the second round of the 2014 draft. Even with last season’s injuries in the secondary and cornerback deficiencies, SJB only appeared in four games, and almost exclusively on special teams. He has the physical talent, and the 2nd round investment means he’ll probably be given every opportunity to succeed, but he’s going to have to do something with those opportunities, and soon.
From everything that I’ve been able to gather, Kyle Wilson has essentially been the Patrick Robinson of New York. The 29th overall pick in the 2010 draft, Wilson came in with high expectations, but has largely disappointed. He’s played 16 games in each of his 5 NFL seasons, and has a lot more NFL game experience than any of the other corners currently fighting for a roster spot, which may give him an edge.
Brian Dixon came to the Saints last season as an undrafted rookie. He took that opportunity and made the most of it, appearing in all 16 games his rookie season. While he didn’t do anything overly impressive (18 total tackles, one forced fumble, and one pass defense), the fact that he got playing time over 2nd round draft pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste says something. His familiarity with the defense should help him, but he may have shot himself in the foot earlier this offeason, with his March arrest.
Damian Swann, Terrence Frederick
With their third pick in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft, the Saints selected Damian Swann, a cornerback out of Georgia. Swann was a three year starter for the Bulldogs, and earned second team All-SEC honors for his play during his Senior year. His biggest knocks coming out of college are his propensity to give receivers a big cushion, and his lack of play making ability. Swann seems like a good candidate for a redshirt year and some time on the practice squad.
A seventh round Steelers draft pick in 2012, Frederick has been on four different teams in his three NFL seasons, and only logging regular season play for two of them. Frederick played in 3 games for the Saints last season, logging 16 total tackles, with no other stats. At this point, I do not expect Frederick to be anything more than an "off the streets" space filler, if the Saints should find themselves depleted at CB during the season.