It’s going to be an interesting several weeks for the New Orleans Saints, as they try to piece together their best 53-man squad for the 2017 season. The competition is expected to be pretty fierce, with a lot of players being left without a job when it’s all said and done. Here’s a few players that will need to have stellar training camps if they want to stay with the team. Before you ask, Dannell Ellerbe was my top choice here, but the recent news of him being placed on injured reserve and will be waived once healthy kind of messed that up.
Unfortunately, the lights just haven’t come on for the former 2015 third-round pick. The Saints were very high on the Colorado State product, but his development has been at a snail’s pace. The notion that Grayson was once thought of as a potential and eventual successor to Drew Brees is folly. The reality is that there’s a considerable amount of pressure on Grayson to deliver during training camp and preseason, because there’s a real chance he won’t land on the team’s practice squad if he can’t make the case for carrying three quarterbacks. Grayson must be near perfect over the next several weeks.
Another player that doesn’t necessarily come as a shock to many is the former first-round pick from Clemson in 2015’s draft. Anthony, by many standards, had a pretty strong rookie campaign. There were obvious shortcomings in his play, but we probably didn’t expect him to be mostly missing in action for 2016. When Anthony did see the field, he just looked lost and couldn’t shake off the cobwebs. Sean Payton acknowledged that his ability to diagnose and his instincts were main problems. Entering this season, both Jeff Irleand and new linebackers coach Mike Nolan have voiced their support and confidence in Anthony. However, we’ll simply have to see it on the field.
It’s not just Murphy that has his job in jeopardy, as veteran Travaris Cadet is also in the same boat. When the Saints drafted Alvin Kamara, they finally got the type of pass-catching back that’s reminiscent of past players in Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. Murphy has appeared in 16 games for the Saints in two seasons, mainly as a special teams presence. Murphy equaled his offensive appearance output from 2015 in only three games to a whopping one snap. Although he’s optimistic on rebounding this season, he’ll certainly have his work cut out for him.
The diminutive wide out finds himself in a battle for what looks to be the 5th and final spot on the receiving corps. Lewis will have to shine as a returner to sneak in, and even that may not be enough to make it. Heavy competition is expected from players like Corey Fuller, Jake Lampman, Jordan Williams-Lambert, and even rookie Travin Dural. Still, Lewis did play in 12 games for the Saints last season and should be given early favor. If he wants to carve out his place on the roster, then he’ll likely have to add some bigger value on offense as a receiving threat.
- Brandon Coleman - He’s a strong run and pass blocker, but faces some potential threats. Curtis Johnson’s return could help him tremendously. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints bring in some veteran receivers to challenge some of the younger players.
- De’Vante Harris - The Saints secondary seems very crowded, and Harris could be the odd man out if Damian Swann and P.J. Williams return to form.
- Michael Hoomanwanui - Hooman missed all of 2016 with a leg injury, but hopefully returns as the high commodity of a run blocker that he is. Veterans Clay Harbor and John Phillips, as well as Garrett Griffin, could challenge for the third tight end spot.
- Obum Gwacham - Pass rushing is an area the Saints need tremendous improvement in, and Gwacham faces an uphill battle against the likes of Hau’oli Kikaha, Trey Hendrickson, Darryl Tapp, and Al-Quadin Muhammad.
- Travaris Cadet - He was previously mentioned, but the reality is that he’ll have to beat out Daniel Lasco for the team’s fourth running back spot.
- Manti Te’o - Maybe it’s a bit unfair for a guy that’s coming off an Achilles’ injury and has had a knack for being injury prone, but there’s plenty of guys ahead of him that could make him expendable.