It’s been a few years since the Saints roster was as deep as many consider it to now be. There is talk of talented players who might be roster worthy not making it onto the 53 man unit once preseason ends. While roster decisions can’t be made based on just one preseason game and a few weeks of summer practice, we can get an idea of who is starting to separate themselves as candidates to make the final roster.
There are some roster battles that are predictable. Who will be the back up quarterback behind Drew Brees? Who will take Mark Ingram’s snaps for the first four games of the regular season? Then there are other battles that are just as enticing to follow such as will Jayrone Elliott be able to unseat Hau’oli Kikaha as the back up Sam linebacker?
Here’s my first shot at this, and I’ll also be added hot takes from the Canal Street Chronicles staff below each analysis paragraph. These takes will likely not coincide with my choice, but give a different perspective to each position.
Starter: Drew Brees
Backup: Tom Savage
Assistant to the Regional Backup: Taysom Hill
It’s no surprise that Brees tops this list. If he isn’t the starter in the first game (or really at any point during the season) Who Dat Nation has reason to be worried. Savage, while not the playmaker Taysom showed himself to be both against the Jaguars and last year with the Packers, is a drive maker. He led two successful scoring drives against the starters (and their direct substitutes) which shows that when surrounded by talent he was competent. His struggles to operate the two minute drill make this a pretty close race. You can call them 2a and 2b.
Staff Hot Take: Brian Pavek “Tom Savage gets cut. He doesn’t execute well enough to warrant a roster spot and the Saints need to keep players who could eventually contribute.”
Starter(s): Alvin Kamara & Mark Ingram *
Backups: Jonathan Williams, Trey Edmunds, Boston Scott
Fullback: Zach Line
The Saints have been experimenting with Trey Edmunds as a fullback, but with Ingram suspended for the first four games of the season his roster spot is safe for now. In addition to being a big bodied runner, Edmunds is a solid special teams contributor. With a renewed focus on special teams by New Orleans his job seems safe for now. Williams has been the training camp darling so far and it looks like he’ll have more looks in the coming preseason games.
Staff Hot Take: John Hendrix ”Boston Scott won’t make it (on the 53 man roster). I don’t think it’s because he isn’t good, but think it’s more a numbers game and they’ll try to pass him through the practice squad”
Wide Receivers (6)
Starters: Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr, Cameron Meredith
Backups: Tre’Quan Smith, Keith Kirkwood, Brandon Tate
A name to remember here is Brandon Coleman. Saints fans might not have seen the last of him, as Sean Payton said he just needed some time to heal. Until then, it’s Kirkwood’s opportunity to earn his spot as the 5th man in the receiver room. Not only did Kirkwood see a good portion of the offensive snaps against the Jaguars, but he also spent a couple of plays on special teams as well. Tate has made some nice plays as a receiver in camp, but it’s his ability as a returner that earns him the 6th spot on the roster. Tommylee is the odd man out.
Staff Hot Take: Ellias Williams “Cam Meredith ends up on injured reserve and Keith Kirkwood makes the roster because of it.”
Tight End (4)
Starter: Benjamin Watson
Backups: Josh Hill, Garrett Griffin, Dan Arnold
Surely the author of this article has lost his marbles. That’s what you’re thinking, right? No way the Saints would ever keep four tight ends on the roster. Well this is what they did in 2010
when they had Jeremy Shockey, David Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Troy Humphrey and it feels like New Orleans is in a similar situation. They have an aging veteran and a couple of young guys they would like to see develop. If Arnold continues his very strong camp then he could earn a fourth spot on the roster. Right now I have Griffin getting the nod over “Hooman” due to health, age and his special teams ability.
Staff Hot Take: John Sigler “Arnold > Yelder. Nuff said.”
Offensive Line (8)
Starters: Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford, Ryan Ramczyk
Backups: Jermon Bushrod, Josh LeRibeus, Will Clapp
Finally, the Saints have an LSU player on the roster just like they did when they won the Super Bowl in 2009. Clapp’s appearance on the 53 man roster guarantees New Orleans is returning the Super Bowl. Eight offensive linemen is less than we’ve seen the team keep before (in 2016 they kept ten), but the extra players elsewhere causes a logjam at the bottom of the roster and the Saints can probably stash players like Rick Leonard and Cameron Tom on the practice squad.
Staff Hot Take: Chris Connor “Jermon Bushrod gets cut. ”
Defensive Line (8)
Starters: Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davison, Alex Okafor
Backups: Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson, David Onyemata, Devaroe Lawrence
This is one of the deepest defensive line groups (on paper) that the Saints have had since arguably the 2000 group. While they still have a lot to prove in terms of living up the stats that group put up, expectations are riding high. Lawrence is having a great camp and gets the nod over veteran Jay Bromley who ends up being on the outside looking in. This is a group that will see a lot of fluctuation in the coming weeks.
Staff Hot Take: Brian Pavek “Hendrickson will have more sacks than Okafor. Alex will have his snaps watched at times and the Saints will play some damaged offensive lines giving T-Rex more opportunities to eat.”
Starters: Alex Anzalone, Demario Davis, A.J. Klein
Backups: Manti T’eo, Jayrone Elliott, Craig Robertson
Kikaha’s days as a Saints seem numbered, but he seems to find a way to stick around. Right now he has taken a lot of snaps as the back up sam linebacker, but Elliott is hot on his heels and has taken his spot in this projection. Kikaha is not a special teams contributor while Elliott is. This could be the difference needed to take this spot from Kikaha. Due to roster constraints, veterans like Nate Stupar are getting left out.
Starters: Marshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, Patrick Robinson
Backups: P.J. Williams, Arthur Maulet, Justin Hardee
Another room with a lot of talent sees someone take a hike and right now that player is
Natrell Jamerson. Aaron Glenn, and the rest of the coaching staff, have done nothing but talk positively about the young rookie, but Williams, Maulet and Hardee are all proven plays on either defense or special teams. Another year of development will only help Jamerson with his transition to cornerback from safety. Maulet has had as good a camp as any player, and Hardee is a special teams ace.
Staff Hot Take: Bob Rose “Neither PJ or Kikaha make the team. Looks like the 53 man roster might end up with The Clapp.”
Starters: Marcus Williams, Kurt Coleman
Backups: Vonn Bell, Chris Banjo
Banjo stays on the roster for his special teams ability (anyone noticing a theme yet?) and the fact that he proved to be quality depth when asked to assist on defense in a limited role. Rookie Kamrin Moore doesn’t look quite ready enough to threaten Banjo’s spot on the roster and the top three are pretty well locked in. Moore dealing with an injury hasn’t helped his chances either.
Staff Hot Take: Ellias Williams “The Saints will keep 7 cornerbacks and 4 safeties. Players like Jamerson have shown they are simply too valuable to cut, and the new kickoff return rules favor smaller/faster players.”
Special Teams (3)
Punter: Thomas Morstead
Kicker: Wil Lutz
Long Snapper: Zach Wood
I’m not sure how we can make a hot take out of this, so we’ll leave that for you guys and the comments section.
There we have it ladies and gentleman. Flame away in the comments section below. Note: The asterisk on Mark Ingram is to denote he will not count against the roster the first four games of the season due to his suspension.