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2016 New Orleans Saints: Roster Outlook, Cornerback

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Posted 08-14-2016 at 08:17 AM by jeanpierre

When you do the math, there're ten (10), maybe eleven (11) defensive back roster spots on the roster...

Now these are the contenders at the moment:

LCB (3) 40 - Delvin Breaux, 27 - Damian Swann, 49 - De’Vante Harris, 37 - Brandon Dixon

SS (2) 32 - Kenny Vaccaro, 41 - Roman Harper, 26 - Trae Elston

FS (3) 31 - Jairus Byrd, 48 - Vonn Bell, 30 - Erik Harris, 42 - Jamal Golden

RCB (2) 25 - P.J. Williams, 39 - Cortland Finnegan, 46 - Ken Crawley, 20 - Brian Dixon, 43 - Jimmy Pruitt, 21 - Keenan Lewis

Following camp reports and what we saw @ New England, 37 - Brandon Dixon, 26 - Trae Elston, 42 - Jamal Golden, 20 - Brian Dixon and 43 - Jimmy Pruitt are likely cuts or on the bubble...

Feel for 26 - Trae Elston and don't understand why he was auditioned at SS when he's clearly a center-field free safety; Saints still doing the round peg, square hole thing on defense and in previous years 42 - Jamal Golden would've made the roster...

I'd point again to how truly terrible a blunder signing Byrd has been and how his contract is restricting competition at the Safety position as releasing him is prohibitive and trading him with a redone contract with friendlier numbers this season is the only way he'd be moved this year...

And it surely doesn't help that Malcolm Jenkins has flourished while Byrd has rode stationary bikes or has his own trainers' table named for him since joining the Saints...

Now the Saints have never, NEVER, had the depth and competition it has in camp at cornerback; 20 - Brian Dixon and 43 - Jimmy Pruitt are good players as Brian Dixon is a very good gunner in the kicking game and good spot starter; Jimmy Pruitt has shown flexibility at safety; there's real value there likely to be among the first cuts...

That still leaves:

LCB (3) 40 - Delvin Breaux, 27 - Damian Swann, 49 - De’Vante Harris

SS (2) 32 - Kenny Vaccaro, 41 - Roman Harper

FS (3) 31 - Jairus Byrd, 48 - Vonn Bell, 30 - Erik Harris

RCB (2) 25 - P.J. Williams, 39 - Cortland Finnegan, 46 - Ken Crawley, 21 - Keenan Lewis

The only surprise I can see at safety is either 41 - Roman Harper or 30 - Erik Harris; Harris has played extremely well on special teams and has flashed at safety; initially it was believed he'd play SS,even OLB in passing plays because of his size. Maybe he's playing FS for roster flexibility, he's still looked good, but either way, it'd be a surprise he's not on the final 53; Harper's age and his limitations in coverage are his obvious iabilities, but Payton likes his guys and the experience Harper brings to a suddenly young secondary making his cut unlikely...

So five (5) safeties seems probable, prudent and consistent with what the Payton-led Saints have done historically...

Then there's cornerback where if competition wasn't already competitive despite the (temporary) loss of anticipated starter 21 - Keenan Lewis, the front office scooped up saavy veteran 39 - Cortland Finnegan; so now we're looking at:

LCB (3) 40 - Delvin Breaux, 27 - Damian Swann, 49 - De’Vante Harris

RCB (2) 25 - P.J. Williams, 39 - Cortland Finnegan, 46 - Ken Crawley, 21 - Keenan Lewis

Now, it's very possible we keep as many as six (6) cornerbacks, and I'd be only slightly surprised that we would, that's still seven (7) cornerbacks still sitting on the board...

So barring injury, I'd strap your safety belt down and enjoy the rest of the ride down Competition Street because this is going to be some very rare deep competition at a position we've rarely had two or even three quality corners on the roster in the past...

And maybe Jeff Ireland can somehow build a deal where among FS Jairus Byrd (with re-worked contract) or CBs Ken Crawley, Brian Dixon or even Keenan Lewis we could make a training camp trade and fill another position of need such as interior offensive line, another 6'3"+ receiver or, less likely, pass rushing defensive end...

And we'd still have excellent development players in 42 - Jamal Golden, 26 - Trae Elston, , 43 - Jimmy Pruitt - if they don't get scooped up!
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