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Predicting the Saints 53 man roster

What will the 2021 version of the Saints look like?

NFL: DEC 13 Saints at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the preseason only a few days away, the Saints front office will be getting their last look at the roster before cuts start. Five players will be released in under a week, as the Saints will have to get their roster to 85 by August 17th. Another five will be released after the second preseason game before the team must get down to 53 by August 31st. We have a good idea at who will be on the final roster, but many spots now are in question with the large amount of suspensions, injuries, and retirements the Saints have seen this offseason.

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(3) Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Ian Book

Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are both locks to make the 53-man roster, the biggest question is which one of them will be the starter. The preseason will give us a good look at who the coaching staff is leaning towards for Week 1, and will give the other QB a good chance to change their minds.

I have Ian Book beating out Trevor Siemian for the #3 QB slot as Book is younger and more mobile than Siemian, and also has more upside. Siemian is a decent backup, but we have already seen his ceiling as opposed to Book who could become better than what we thought of him on draft day. Regardless of who the #3 QB is, it is unlikely they will see significant time this year, as Winston and Hill have both been very durable during their NFL careers.

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Running back

(4) Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Dwayne Washington

Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray are both going to make the 53 man roster, which leaves Devonta Freeman and Dwayne Washington both on the bubble. I have them both making the roster, as Freeman is a proven veteran who could easily fill in for Murray if needed, and Washington is also a player who will be ready as soon as he is called upon. I could see either of these two running backs missing the roster however, if the front office decides they need depth elsewhere, we could see either Washington or Freemen released before Week 1.

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(1) Alex Armah

Armah has spent the last four years blocking for Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. If McCaffrey’s production is any indication of how good Armah is as a fullback, the Saints may have signed one of the best in the league. Armah should be a lock to make the 53 man roster, as he is currently the only FB on the roster with any regular season experience.

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Wide receiver

(7) Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, Ty Montgomery, Chris Hogan, Kawaan Baker, Lil’Jordan Humphrey

This may be the Saints weakest position group to start the season. With Michael Thomas starting the year on the injured list, the Saints will field one of the least experience groups of wide receivers in the NFL. Smith, Harris, Callaway, Montgomery, and Hogan should all easily make the roster, and I believe two more slots at WR will be grabbed by either Baker, Humphrey, TommyLee Lewis, or Jalen McCleskey. I feel Baker and Humphrey will grab these spots on the roster, as they are more unique and have better upside than Lewis and McCleskey. However, it is likely that Deonte Harris might get suspended for the start of the regular season, and if that happens, I feel McCleskey is deserving of a roster spot until Harris is able to return.

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Tight end

(3) Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett, Juwan Johnson

Another weak position group, as the Saints tight ends currently have just 6 career touchdown receptions between them. Adam Trautman should be the starter, as he showed enough during his rookie year that he at least deserves a shot at being a starting tight end. Nick Vannett is the most experienced TE on the roster, and is also a decent blocker, giving him a good chance to be the #2 TE. Juwan Johnson simply has more upside and ability than Garrett Griffin, which leads me to believe he will be the third TE selected for the 53 man roster.

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Offensive tackle

(4) Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk, James Hurt, Landon Young

Transitioning from weak to strong groups, the Saints starting tackles are arguably the best tandem in the NFL. Armstead and Ramczyk will have no problem making the roster, and rookie Landon Young and veteran James Hurst should be the backups. It is possible a player like Ethan Greenidge could wind up making the final roster, but I feel the Saints will elect to keep more interior lineman than tackles.

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Offensive guard

(3) Cesar Ruiz, Andrus Peat, Will Clapp

At guard, Cesar Ruiz and Andrus Peat should both return as starters, with Will Clapp backing them up. The Saints will likely put Derrick Kelly and Mike Brown on the practice squad and sign them to the active roster if needed.

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(1) Erik McCoy

Since being drafted, Erik McCoy has been the only full-time center to make the final roster. I do not see that changing this year. Tulane product Christian Montano could make the practice squad, but in the event of an injury to McCoy it is much more likely Cesar Ruiz is moved to center and Will Clapp slides in at guard.

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Defensive end

(4) Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Payton Turner, Carl Granderson

The defensive line took the biggest hit of any position group in free agency. Cameron Jordan of course will make the roster, and Marcus Davenport should also join him in the starting lineup with 1st round pick Payton Turner being a rotation player. Carl Granderson offers more upside and recent success than a player like Tanoh Kpassagnon, but I also could see someone like Kpassagnon or Noah Spence being kept around for depth purposes.

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Defensive tackle

(5) Shy Tuttle, Malcolm Roach, Christian Ringo, Josiah Bronson, Jalen Dalton

With the 7 week suspension of starter David Onyemata, the Saints will need to find production from an unproven source at DT if they want to remain one of the best run defenses in the league. Shy Tuttle and Malcolm Roach should be the Week 1 starters, and I think the Saints will keep more DTs than DEs as they try and replace both Sheldon Rankins and Onyemata.

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(5) Demario Davis, Kwon Alexander, Pete Werner, Zack Baun, Chase Hansen

Kwon Alexander was brought back on a one year deal in early August. This was a very good move on the Saints part as linebacker was one of the shallowest positions depth wise on the team. Alexander and Demario Davis should make the roster as well as rookie Pete Werner, who will likely be the 3rd linebacker in the starting lineup, and second year player Zack Baun. I think the Saints will keep one more linebacker after these four and Chase Hanson should have the best shot at being that player.

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(5) Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, Brian Poole, Prince Amukamara, Ken Crawley

Another position with plenty of question marks surrounding it is cornerback. Marshon Lattimore has been incredibly reliable since being drafted in 2017, and will easily make the roster and the the top CB. Rookie Paulson Adebo will need to have a strong preseason to prove he can be a starting CB in the NFL, but he should make the final roster regardless. Veterans Brian Poole, Prince Amukamara, and Ken Crawley should fill out the rest of the CB slots, and with a potential suspension for Lattimore looming, do not be surprised if the Saints make a move to acquire another CB before Week 1.

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(5) Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Williams, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, J.T. Gray, P.J. Williams

Now we finally come to a position with plenty of depth and plenty of talent. Malcolm Jenkins is one of the most reliable players regardless of position in the league, and will be one of the Saints starting safeties this year. Marcus Williams and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson are both very talented young players who round out one of the more underrated groups of safeties in the NFL. P.J. Williams and J.T. Gray both have a good chance at making the roster for depth and special teams purposes.

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Special teams

(3) Brett Maher, Blake Gillikin, Zach Wood

The Saints special teams will look quite different to start the season. 12-year veteran and Super Bowl champion Thomas Morestead retired this offseason, leaving the punting duties in the hands (or legs) of second year player Blake Gillikin. Former Cowboy Brett Maher was brought in to replace the injured Wil Lutz, who could be sidelined for up to eight weeks. Maher will be under a lot of scrutiny this preseason, as he made just 66.7% of his field goals in 2019 before not even securing a starting role in 2020. Long snapper Zach Wood should have no trouble making the roster for the fifth season in a row.

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