The time has come that we have all been waiting for since February: TRAINING CAMP! The Saints will officially begin camp on July 26 with the rookies reporting last Thursday and the rest reporting this Thursday. Highly anticipated after the way last year ended, this year’s camp will the third in a row where the roster seems to be almost set in stone with a few holes to be filled. Yet again, Sean Payton and company will have their work cut out for them when it comes down to the final cuts.
Every year, the Who Dat Nation tends to find a few players who they consider to be the “camp beast”. Overall, the hopes of a UDFA or solid veteran making the cut is the best part about the pre-season and camp as a whole. This year’s field of talent is no different from the previous ones. There are several young guys and proven vets that are vying for the chance to be on the 53 man roster come September. Since the end of the draft until now, there have been several players that have caught my attention based on several factors who I feel are on the outside looking in and have probably the best chances of making the cut this season.
Just remembers these names when you are out at practice and spy on them like a hawk because they may work their way to earning a coveted roster spot:
Javorius “Buck” Allen | Running Back
Allen comes to the Saints after four season in Baltimore. Kind of a trade off with Mark Ingram signing there this off-season. Being mostly a second or third option in the run game, Allen does not have the stats to warrant a guaranteed spot. But what he does lack in that department, he more than makes up for in blocking, which is a crucial element for all back on the team. He will have something to prove and will have to flash some versatility in multiple aspects in order to make the team.
Simmie Cobbs | Wide Receiver
Cobbs signed with the team late last season but did not play a single down due to injury. Coming in undrafted last year, he signed with the Saints from the Redskins practice squad because he was excited for the opportunity that was presented before him. Now, given we have not seen him on the field, he will have a great chance to prove himself to the coaches and show them why they signed him. The receiver battle is going to be the must watch during camp and Cobbs will have to go above and beyond just get a spot on the roster.
Devine Ozigbo | Running Back
Ozigbo comes in undrafted out of Nebraska. He has been mentioned by many as the top candidate to make the roster and I also agree to this statement. Ozigbo has a great balance of size and athleticism and is capable of being a runner and pass catcher out of the backfield. If he can show his potential on special teams as a returner or even a gunner, he will make his way onto the roster. He could potentially be the missing extra weapon in the offense that has been lacking for several seasons.
Porter Gustin | Linebacker
With the news of Carl Granderson’s sexual assault case coming last week, it opens up an opportunity for someone else to claim a roster spot. One player that can take advantage is Gustin, who has a big frame and is more than capable of playing linebacker and defensive end. We know that the Saints love to find guys who are versatile and he has all the tools to make a name for himself. With maybe one or two spots available at defensive end, Gustin has the best odds to win a spot as long as he performs well.
Deonte Harris | Wide Receiver/Returner
Harris is definitely the most notable of the undrafted rookies on the roster. He broke several return records at Assumption College, which included combined return touchdowns and a single season return touchdown with 8. Now he has a chance to prove himself in the NFL level. Although he may be the same size as Darren Sproles, he would have to prove his worth as a receiver in order to get a spot on the final 53. Nonetheless, the Saints have lacked a consistent returner for the past several year and have put an emphasis on the third phase of the game this year. Harris is hoping he can fill the void and bring another dynamic to the Saints roster.
Lil’ Jordan Humphrey | Wide Receiver
First off, how can you not like this guy based on his name alone? Humphrey was kind of a surprise to go undrafted. He may not have the speed but has the size and play making ability to make up for it. He was the main target for the Texas Longhorns last season and accumulated over 1,000 yards on 86 catches and 9 touchdowns. He also showed some flashes in the return game, which is a big plus on his resume. He reminds me of Marques Colston, a player who is capable of playing outside as well as in the slot. Once again, he will be in the battle at receiver among many others and hopefully if he does not make it, he can be stashed on the practice squad to develop his skillset.
Kayvon Webster | Cornerback
Signed late in free agency, Webster has a lot to prove after injuries has slowed down his career to this point. He has seen snaps as a starter and reserve and could be a nice addition to the secondary given his veteran presence. Given that no word has come out if PJ Williams will be suspended for his off-season arrest and how healthy Patrick Robinson will be coming off a severe ankle injury, Webster hopes he can get back to his form that made his successful in Denver and provide extra insurance to a young secondary core. He can also help his case as a special teamer and we all know how valuable it can be for this squad.
Nate Wozniak | Offensive Tackle
Wozniak is an intriguing player when you break it down. He played tight end at Minnesota and was very undervalued given his height (6’10”) because he barely got 30 passes and did not even get a touchdown. So what makes him a guy to look out for? The fact that he is converted to an offensive lineman and the lack of depth behind Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk. We all know that Andrus Peat can flex to either side but he thrives better as a guard. Not to mention the interior of the offensive line is very stacked as well. Plus, given his time as a tight end, Wozniak is more than capable of being an eligible receiver for some trickery. Imagine: Inside the 5 yard line, Taysom Hill in the backfield with Kamara, fakes the handoff, proceeds to run up the middle and throws a jump pass to a wide open Wozniak who towers over everybody. I like the way that sounds, but of course he will have to show his value on the line before any of that is possible.
Training camp is an exciting start to the NFL season. Fans get the chance to see their team working hard towards having a great year and hopefully bring home a Super Bowl trophy. But until that time comes, they look to see who can get their squad to the next level in order to get there. This year, the talent is even stronger and the competition is only going to heat up when the preseason rolls around. Needless to say, football season is finally here and we are ready to rock and roll.
Follow Dom Lewis on Twitter @BigFella122