We all know that the New Orleans Saints love the UDFA market. This year was no different as they signed 11 undrafted free agents after the draft. Now, as we approach the start of camp, can take a look at the ones still here and which ones we want to make the roster once the regular season gets here. Here are the three that I think have the best chance:
Dylan Soehner, TE, Iowa State
The Saints lost Josh Hill and Jared Cook this off-season so, behind Adam Trautman, the TE room is wide open. Soehner is not only wearing Josh Hill’s old number, but he also will likely fill the same blocking role left open by Hill’s departure. He excelled at blocking at Iowa State, and as his time there progressed he became a better and more relied on pass catcher. There is a very little likelihood that Soehner will come in and catch double digit passes in year one, but there is a spot on this roster for him. He will make a name for himself on special teams as well as his blocking.
Lorenzo Neal Jr, DL, Purdue
Lorenzo Neal Jr is a legacy Saint, as his father was a fourth round draft pick by New Orleans in 1993. Neal had an interesting, but productive career at Purdue. He wasn’t always looked at as a UDFA level player. Going in to the 2020 season I saw him listed as high as some people’s best DL in the draft. He had his ups and downs, but ended with 13 TFLs, 5 PBUs, and 4 FFs. The Saints let Sheldon Rankins walk this year and traded Malcolm Brown. There is a clear competition needed at DT and I think Lorenzo Neal could make a great case for the roster.
Mike Brown, OL, West Virginia
It’s no secret that the Saints front office is unhappy with the performance of the offensive guards. Mike Brown has plenty of experience at both guard positions and would serve as a great depth piece. Had 12 knockdowns in 2019 along with not allowing a sack in 10 of 11 games that year. The Saints love their offensive lineman to be versatile and Brown has the experience and size to be just that.
Nolan Cooney, P, Syracuse
The punter competition is going to be surprisingly fun during camp. Blake Gilikin is the “obvious” choice as he’s been on the roster, but Cooney is just as talented of a punter. He punted a CRAZY 74 times in 2020 for a 44.8 yard average. He has 25 punts of over 50 yards, 24 downed within the 20 and only 3 touchbacks. Both Cooney and Gilikin have great resumes, so I legitimately can’t wait for this battle to start.
Lawrence Woods, DB/ST, Truman State
Lawrence Woods has really only one path to the 2021 53-man roster, through Special Teams. Luckily for him, he is a VERY good special teamer. I had never seen teams specifically game-plan for a certain gunner before watching his tape. He is one of the best gunners I have watched film on (which is a bigger number than I’d care to admit.) He is also a quick and shift kick returner that the Saints could take advantage of in case of injury. He has the special teams talent to stick onto the roster, but at the very least he will be a practice squad player that gets elevated throughout the season.