Photo by: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
So many spots opened up on this roster after the season with the Saints maintaining as many of the 2018 squad as possible but some depth players went on to seek greener pastures, players bounced to where they could hold lead roles, and others retired. With this draft class, it’s interesting to see that there are some immediate paths to the Saints roster for those selected and a couple of spots where the traditional undrafted free agent can slip in. However unlikely it may be that all five rookies will make 2019’s roster, I made it a point to show where they can plant their flags for now.
Last season’s 53-man roster was evenly split on offense and defense with three special consisted of the following make-up.
Quarterbacks – 3
Runningbacks – 3
Fullback – 1
Wide Receivers – 6
Tight Ends – 3
Offensive Line – 9
Defensive Line – 9
Linebackers – 5
Secondary – 11
Special Teams (3)
Kicker – 1
Punter – 1
Long Snapper – 1
While I didn’t follow that perfectly, I kept it very close. We’ll continue to shift this as we move through offseason programming and the exhibition season. Worth keeping in mind too that two players could be serving a suspension at the beginning of the season due to David Onyemata’s marijuana possession arrest and P.J. Williams’ DUI arrest.
Free Agency Signing
Undrafted Free Agent Rookie
QB: Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill (3)
RB: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Devine Ozigbo (3)
FB: Zach Line (1)
WR: Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., TreQuan Smith, Cameron Meredith, Keith Kirkwood, Deonte Harris (KR) (6)
TE: Jared Cook, Josh Hill, Alizé Mack (3)
OL: Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Erik McCoy, Larry Warford, Ryan Ramczyk, Nick Easton, Cameron Tom, Will Clapp, Nate Wozniak (9)
This one is pretty straight forward. The spot vacated by Mark Ingram goes to Latavius Murray annd Nebraska UDFA wins the camp and preseason battle for RB3. Deonte Harris takes over TommyLee Lewis’ kick return responsibilities and takes a the sixth receiver spot. Jared Cook steps into Ben Watson’s spot after retiring (assuming he stays retired) and Alizé Mack wins the TE3 spot. Erik McCoy and Nick Easton step into the roster spots left available after Unger and Bushrod retired. Only surprise sneaker I have is Nate Wozniak, the former Tight End sneaking into the first game-day roster assuming the bottom O-Line rotation occupied last season by Josh LeRibeus to start the season and Derek Newton by the playoffs.
Defense (25) *Sheldon Rankins expected to open season on PUP opens roster spot.
DE: Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson (3)
DT: David Onyemata, Malcom Brown, Taylor Stallworth, Mario Edwards, Kenny Bigelow Jr (5)
LB: Alex Anzalone, Demario Davis, A.J. Klein, Craig Robertson, Kaden Elliss, Vince Biegel (6)
Boundary CBs: Marshon Lattimore, Eli Apple, Justin Hardee, Marcus Sherels (PR) (4)
Nickel CBs: Patrick Robinson, P.J. Williams, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (3)
S: Marcus Williams, Vonn Bell, Chris Banjo, Saquan Hampton (4)
The defense gets a big shakeup and there’s even more room to move. Rankins isn’t tallied here since he’ll be missing a portion of the season with his achilles injury and two other aforementioned players on defense could open the year suspended. New additions Mario Edwards and Malcom Brown make the roster for now while Rankins is out. Edwards brings an extra presence as someone that can also rush off the edge. Kenny Bigelow also gets his number called while Rankins is recovering. I expect that either Bigelow or Edwards see the door upon Rankins’ return. Brown is safe as a Nose Tackle. 7th-round selection Kaden Elliss has a clear path to the roster in the spot once held by Manti Te’o. The Saints are excited about his versatility. Biegel sticks as a sixth LB due to Mario Edwards versatility opening up an extra spot elsewhere. Newcomer Marcus Sherels claim kick return duty and maintains deep depth on the boundary. Chauncey Garnder-Johnson is a shoe-in for the nickel role starting the season as a backup. I kind of expect him to make P.J. Williams expendable, especially if he is indeed suspended. Finally, Saquan Hampton, 6th-rounder, finds his roster spot as the fourth Safety and as a Special Teams contributor much in the ilk of JT Gray last season.
If Onyemata isn’t on the roster the first week, I expect USC’s Porter Gustin to push for a rotational edge position.
Special Teams (3)
K: Will Lutz
P: Thomas Morstead
LS: Zach Wood
Simple to start in terms of simply finding where the young cats can fit. The big test begins in May starting with Rookie Minis as they start working towards the ultimate goal of securing those spots.
Follow Ross on Twitter @RossJacksonASC