clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL.com starter projection series praises Saints weapons on offense, linebacker depth

New, comments

They’ve painted a pretty picture.

NFL: Super Bowl RingsMinneapolis, MN, USA; A view of Super Bowl XLIV ring to commemorate the  New Orleans Saints 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life  Stadium in Miami, Fla. on Feb 7, 2010.
Minneapolis, MN, USA; A view of Super Bowl XLIV ring to commemorate the New Orleans Saints 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla. on Feb 7, 2010.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Around the NFL editor Gregg Rosenthal has taken on an ambitious quest for the league’s official site, projecting the starting lineups for all 32 teams. Rosenthal recently dropped his takes on the NFC South; I’ll break down how he feels about the top of the Saints’ roster, but follow that link for insight into the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Let’s begin with the offense:

Rosenthal expressed confidence in the Saints’ ability to navigate the four-game suspension of Mark Ingram, particularly liking the receivers New Orleans added this offseason and Kamara’s upside in a larger role. He also believes better luck with injuries could propel the team into a special year:

Kamara can be a top-five back and Michael Thomas is already a top-10 receiver; along with Brees, they could challenge the Steelers as the best QB-RB-WR trio in football.

No playoff team lost more games from starters due to injury last year, yet the Saints still could have won the Super Bowl with a few breaks going their way. The return to health for left tackle Terron Armstead and the rest of the nasty offensive line should give the team a boost.

As for defense, Rosenthal does a good job to capture how many different looks and personnel groupings the Saints roll out by describing them with a unique 3-3-5:

The only surprises here should be Vonn Bell taking a backseat to Coleman at safety. Bell saw a ton of action in his second year last season, but Coleman offers more ability lining up as a true free safety and has better-looked the part of a ballhawk. While he questions the Saints’ defensive line depth, an area Rosenthal does key in on as a strength-of-numbers is linebacker:

Cameron Jordan told me back in April that he’s never seen so many middle linebackers on one team in his life. Demario Davis has the money and pedigree to get the job. A.J. Klein was signed to play it last year, while Manti Te’o and Craig Robertson have both played it in the past. The Saints appear so traumatized by all their linebacker misfires in the past that they responded by overstuffing the position.

The projected starting lineup above at linebacker is the one with the highest ceiling. Alex Anzalone would help New Orleans’ team speed if he can stay healthy enough to keep the weak-side job in his second year.

What do you think? Is Rosenthall totally off-base here? Or is this a starting lineup that can contend with anyone in the NFL?