Following the shellacking of the Los Angeles Rams the Saints front office now has the difficult task (for the first time in a long time) of narrowing the 90 man roster down to 53 while hoping the ones they wish to stash away on the practice squad don’t get picked up by anyone else. How much impact will this past week’s late additions have to the roster?
This is the third version of this roster projection series, and You can read version one and version two here. Unlike previous editions there will be a Practice Squad projection at the bottom of this article. Remember, these projections aren’t meant to be completely accurate, but they are intended to be viewed as a ‘stock market’. What players are rising and falling from where we sit.
Starter: Drew Brees
Backup: Teddy Bridgewater
Punt Blocker Who Can Throw: Taysom Hill
Trading for Bridgewater and picking him up from the New York Jets for a 3rd round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft (while also receiving a 6th rounder) shows that the Saints weren’t completely confident in what they had behind Drew. Teddy becomes the hero New Orleans deserves, but not the one it needs right now. How long will he have to wait behind Brees before getting his shot?
Hill still seems to be a player the team believes in, and not just as a jack of all trades, master of none athlete. Sean Payton alluded to the presence and spirit of Hill that makes his respond and believe in him. Tom Savage will likely be cut, or possibly traded, and they’ll try to stash J.T. Barrett on the practice squad.
Starter(s): Alvin Kamara & Mark Ingram *
Backups: Jonathan Williams, Boston Scott, Shane Vereen
Fullback: Zach Line,
Do the Saints keep the veteran pass catcher who is long in the tooth but provides (Super Bowl) experience, or the young back who is versatile enough to run inside or play fullback in Edmunds? Edmunds is still practice squad eligible and will likely get stashed there with Vareen being a possible cut once Ingram returns in week 5. This last cut is a difficult one, and New Orleans could opt to only carry four runningbacks to make room for other players on the roster.
Wide Receivers (5)
Starters: Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr, Cameron Meredith
Backups: Tre’Quan Smith, Brandon Tate
For most there is little doubt that the first four names mentioned in this group will make the roster. Tre’Quan has been arguably a top 5 player in camp and Meredith finally showed
against the Rams what the Saints paid for when they chose to pick him up during the offseason.
An interesting point was made by Jon Stinchcomb during the Saints and Rams broadcast: Brandon Tate was not on the field during return situations, and Tommylee Lewis was. This showed (to Stinchcomb) that Tate had already earned this role. While Lewis had a very good game in his own right, was it enough to make the roster? Does he provide more value than a player such as Austin Carr who has seen his snaps and production from the slot increase in games three and four of the preseason? I see him as on his way out.
Tight End (3)
Starter: Benjamin Watson
Backups: Josh Hill, Dan Arnold
There just aren’t enough spots to carry as many tight ends as the Saints have in the past. Is Deon Yelder worth more than an Authur Maulet? What about Devaroe Lawrence? It’s best to try and stash one of the younger tight ends on the practice squad and choose players who have performed well at deep positions. Pastor Watson has looked good in limited action during training camp and Arnold provides that athletic seam runner Payton has enjoyed using in the past. For those 12 personnel packages where a blocking tight end is needed, Hill has been more than serviceable when tasked.
Offensive Line (9)
Starters: Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford, Ryan Ramczyk
Backups: Josh LeRibeus, Will Clapp, Rick Leonard. Cameron Tom
Bushrod was brought in to be the reliable veteran backup, and to be honest the Saints haven’t put him in the greatest position to have success. His versatility to work inside-out is a plus, but asking him to play left tackle against Melvin Ingram at this point in his career (or even in his prime) is a tall order. That is what makes evaluating him so difficult. Would he actually play left tackle during the season, or would he stick to guard and they slide out Peat or Ramczyk?
Even if Bushrod was to be mainly an interior player, younger guys like Tom, Clapp and LeRibeus have all looked solid at guard and center whilebeing younger than the aforementioned Bushrod. Don’t be surprised if Bushrod ends up on the Saints final 53 man roster, but he isn’t in this projection.
Defensive Line (9)
Starters: Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davison, Alex Okafor
Backups: Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson, David Onyemata, Devaroe Lawrence, Taylor Stallworth
Do the Saints keep an extra run defender in Stallworth, or a versatile player like Mitchell Loewen? This position has some of the hardest decisions for the New Orleans front office to
make. If they keep the depth here along the offensive and defensive lines then they are likely losing players in the secondary.
Like with the receivers most of the players in this projection are a lock. The first seven names are all arguably locked in and not going anywhere with Davison being the only one some have considered having cut potential.
Starters: Demario Davis, Manti T’eo, A.J. Klein
Backups: Alex Anzalone, Nate Stupar, Craig Robertson
Our writer Ellias J. Williams proposed last week that Hau’oli Kikaha could be traded to a team needing a pass rusher. If that doesn’t happen I expect him to be cut to make room for players who contribute more on special teams. While some of Stupar’s end of preseason heroics were provided as generous gifts from the Rams’ offensive line choosing to leave him unblocked he has still shown the propensity to be valuable on both special teams and as a reserve linebacker.
Could Klein be in consideration to be cut? Given his performance throughout the preseason it’s a possibility. In the end it’s more likely the Saints continue the Klein experiment in hopes thats his play becomes more consistent, and more positive, as the linebackers under Nolan gain more time together as a unit.
Starters: Marshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, Patrick Robinson
Backups: Arthur Maulet, Justin Hardee, Natrell Jamerson
Has P.J. Williams shown enough to make the roster? Williams did not participate in preseason games two or three and saw limited action(15 snaps) against the Rams. With both Hardee and Maulet getting extending looks and both contributing on special teams it makes it hard to find a spot for Williams on the roster.
Rookie cornerback Natrell Jamerson has been a nice surprise. His transition from safety to corner hasn’t been the potential career speed bump that it has been for players making the same transition in the past. With so many young players providing in multiple phases of the game it makes it hard to let them walk.
Starters: Marcus Williams, Kurt Coleman
Backups: Vonn Bell, Chris Banjo
While Kamrin Moore did see a significant increase in snaps to end the preseason (18 on special teams, 54 on defense) it’s unlikely that this is enough to earn him a roster spot. Coleman, Williams and Bell are all etched in the stone copy of the 2018-2019 Saints roster while Chris Banjo has consistently contributed on both special teams and defense. New Orleans will likely try to stash Moore on the practice squad.
Special Teams (3)
Punter: Thomas Morstead
Kicker: Wil Lutz
Long Snapper: Zach Wood
Practice Squad (10+1)
Alex Jenkins (special exemption)