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New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Here's a position-by-position look at how I see things shaping up so far: QUARTERBACK In: Drew Brees, Luke McCown Out: Ryan Griffin What Could Change: The Saints could decide to keep Griffin and protect him on the 53-man roster -- ...

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Old 08-22-2013, 06:34 PM   #1
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Here's a position-by-position look at how I see things shaping up so far:

QUARTERBACK

In: Drew Brees, Luke McCown

Out: Ryan Griffin

What Could Change: The Saints could decide to keep Griffin and protect him on the 53-man roster -- especially if he plays lights-out in the final two preseason games. Griffin definitely looks like a great fit as the Saints' next developmental project at the position, and they'd hate to lose him to another team.

Chances are, they'll be safe putting him on the practice squad, as they've done with Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield in the past.

WIDE RECEIVER

In: Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills, Nick Toon, Courtney Roby, Preston Parker

Out: Andy Tanner, Saalim Hakim, Tim Toone, Joe Morgan (to injured reserve)

What Could Change: The top four spots are locked in, but there are some question marks surrounding the final one or two.

Roby should be safe as long as the team believes he'll recover quickly from the turf toe injury he suffered in camp. But if he does lose his job, I think he'll lose it to another special teams coverage specialist (likely a defensive back or linebacker). So I don't see the Saints keeping six receivers if Roby's not one of them.

As for that fifth receiver spot, I think Parker has the edge right now because he's played the best in the preseason, he seems to have the highest ceiling with his size and speed, he's got the versatility as a return specialist and he has past NFL experience.

I think Tanner and Hakim are long shots -- but wouldn't be shocked if either guy makes the team. I also wouldn't be shocked to see the Saints sign a veteran receiver that gets cut elsewhere if they want to have a security blanket in the group, but that seems less likely now that Stills and Toon have emerged.

RUNNING BACK

In: Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Travaris Cadet

Out: Khiry Robinson

What Could Change: I still have Cadet making the team, but barely. He's on extremely thin ice after his two fumbles in last week's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, and Payton wasn't around last year when Cadet was a breakout star in the preseason. If Robinson continues to shine in the final two exhibitions, he could possibly steal Cadet's job or stick around as a fifth tailback. But I think the Saints need the depth elsewhere.

FULLBACK

In: Jed Collins

Out: Austin Johnson

What Could Change: Johnson could definitely make the team as a hybrid fullback/tight end/special teamer. He had a sensational solo tackle on special teams against the Raiders. In past years, the Saints used to keep a total of five tight ends and fullbacks. But for now, I've still got Johnson barely on the wrong side of the bubble.

TIGHT END

In: Jimmy Graham, Benjamin Watson, Michael Higgins

Out: Josh Hill, Keavon Milton

What Could Change: I like fullback Austin Johnson's chances a little better than Hill or Milton among the young fullback/tight end types. But the Saints have gone with four tight ends a bunch in the past.

OFFENSIVE LINE

In: Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Brian de la Puente, Zach Strief, Charles Brown, Terron Armstead, Eric Olsen, Bryce Harris

Out: Marcel Jones, Andrew Tiller, Tim Lelito, Jeremiah Warren, Elliott Mealer

What Could Change: The Saints like Jones as a developmental project, and he's been cross-training at right guard the past couple weeks after starting his career as a right tackle. But I think Harris is a little more polished right now, which gives him the edge -- especially since the other backup tackle (Armstead) is a raw rookie himself.

The Saints could keep Jones as a ninth lineman, but I went with an extra body on defense instead. I also think the Saints like the potential of Tiller and Lelito, among others, but Olsen's experience gives him a huge edge at the backup guard/center spot.

DEFENSIVE LINE

In: Cam Jordan, Brodrick Bunkley, Akiem Hicks, John Jenkins, Tyrunn Walker, Glenn Foster

Out: Tom Johnson, Issako Aaitui

What Could Change: Johnson could easily wind up cracking the final 53, especially if the Saints opt to keep seven defensive linemen. He's been an underrated backup the past two years, and the Saints might want a veteran backup in the mix.

However, I don't see Walker or Foster getting cut after their standout performances so far in the preseason. Foster has vaulted to the top of my list of undrafted rookies most likely to make the 53-man roster.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

In: Will Smith, Junior Galette, Martez Wilson, Jay Richardson, Eric Martin

Out: Rufus Johnson, Baraka Atkins, Victor Butler (to injured reserve)

What Could Change: A lot could change here. Richardson, Martin, Johnson and Atkins are all on the bubble. I went with a total of five outside linebackers, especially if the Saints still have injury concerns with Galette and Wilson. But they might go with only four if they need the depth elsewhere.

I gave the edge to Richardson, both because he's worked his way into the starting lineup this preseason and because he has the versatility to play defensive end. And I went with Martin because of his potential as a pass rusher and special teams contributor. Johnson, however, has just as much upside, so the Saints might not want to risk losing him to another team.

INSIDE LINEBACKER

In: Vilma, Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber, Will Herring, Kevin Reddick

Out: Chris Chamberlain, Ray Shipman

What Could Change: A lot could change here, too. If the Saints think Vilma is healthy enough to contribute early in the season, then six inside linebackers might be overkill. But I kept Herring and Reddick because I think both could also be assets on special teams.

SAFETY

In: Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper, Kenny Vaccaro, Rafael Bush, Isa Abdul-Quddus

Out: Leonhard, Jerico Nelson, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

What Could Change: I was tempted to go with six safeties, since so many of them are special teams assets, and since new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan likes to use four safeties at once in so many of his packages. I even went back and looked to see if Ryan's defenses in Dallas and Cleveland ever kept six safeties (they hadn't). So ultimately I cut Leonhard, who seems to be less critical on special teams than the others. But I obviously wouldn't be shocked to see him make the team since he's been such a coach's favorite for so long in the NFL.

Even Nelson is a wild-card possibility at the deep position since he also brings some special teams ability. He's the kind of guy that would have to beat out Roby to win a specialty job.

CORNERBACK

In: Keenan Lewis, Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson, Corey White

Out: Sweeting, Chris Carr, Korey Lindsey

What Could Change: The fourth (and possible fifth) cornerback spots are among the hardest to choose on the entire roster. White has been here the longest and showed some nice potential last year. But both Sweeting and the veteran Carr have appeared to stand out more often during training camp and the preseason. I'll still go with White for now, though the final two preseason games could make a difference.

SPECIALISTS

In: Thomas Morstead, Garrett Hartley, Justin Drescher

What Could Change: Nothing.

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Old 08-22-2013, 08:25 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

I don't see Cadet making it. Payton saw Cadets performance in preseason last year but he also saw him fumble on a kick off also..
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Old 08-23-2013, 12:24 AM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

I think Tanner and Hakim are long shots -- but wouldn't be shocked if either guy makes the team.
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Old 08-23-2013, 03:54 AM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

I disagree with Cadet making the roster. He had his chance, and he flailed like a dying fish. I think Khiry has play over and beyond what Cadet has done in his two years. Khiry needs a true test to prove himself to everyone, but I see some extraordinary talent in Khiry. Yes, I'm 'Fan-girling' hardcore of Khiry.

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Old 08-23-2013, 06:25 AM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

After those fumble...Cadet...not feeling it. I think Khiry won his spot in that last game. I thought he looked both physical and decisive. Most importantly, he looked like he KNEW what he was doing.

I like that kid.

EDIT: I think the OLB list is a bit off as well.
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:20 AM   #6
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Re: New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

Cadet out Robinson in, Hakim,Tanner in Roby, Parker out they may opt for keeping Parker over Hakim but Hakim has the speed to burn stay with him. Think they are going to find a spot for Sweeting I would let Robinson go my self or maybe they will lose a safety.
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:40 AM   #7
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Re: New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

Triplett may have his sources on the team and staff, but Griffin looks better, and offers more than McCown...

Cadet has been outplayed by Khiry Robinson, if Cadet hasn't played himself out of a spot with his turnovers...

Like Olsen, and am surprised he'll have a spot despite having been injured and not playing; he's got a nasty offensive line mentality and he his versatile, in that he can play guard and center...

Can't see only four cornerbacks going in to the season, but I agree with the Safeties...

Don't get Jay Richardson making the team, I'll need to see more...

Basically it's going to come down to "are the youngsters physically that much better than the experienced players to warrant unloading the higher salary hits."
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:43 PM   #8
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Re: New Orleans Saints' 53-man roster projection comes down to veterans vs. undrafted rookies

Way too many players are just too close to call.
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