Saints Training Camp: 53-man Roster Prediction

After a tumultuous offseason throughout the league, New Orleans Saints training camp is finally back!  Here are my predictions for the Saints 53-man Roster.
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After a long and difficult offseason throughout the league, the “official” start of New Orleans Saints training camp is finally here. Roster decisions will be much harder because of the lack of offseason workouts and no preseason games because of COVID-19 safety concerns. The Saints have the advantage of a mostly established roster of talent, one that has gone 37-11 over the last three seasons and is among the league's top Super Bowl favorites.

The NFL has not yet announced plans to allow teams to carry an expanded roster, but will allow them to carry a 16-player practice squad as opposed to the usual 10 members this season. As it stands currently, the deadline date for all NFL teams to cut down to their 53-man active roster is September 4th, six days before the league opener and nine days before the Saints opening game at home against Tampa Bay.

Even with such a deep and talented roster, we should still expect some surprise moves from New Orleans, especially after adding some intriguing talent this offseason to increase competition in some spots. Here is my 53-man roster prediction.

(* = Rookie)

QUARTERBACK (3)

Aug 23, 2018; Costa Mesa, CA, USA: New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) and quarterback Drew Brees (9) throw the ball as offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael (left) watches during joint practice against the Los Angeles Chargerat the Jack. R. Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 23, 2018; Costa Mesa, CA, USA: New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) and quarterback Drew Brees (9) throw the ball as offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael (left) watches during joint practice against the Los Angeles Chargerat the Jack. R. Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • Drew Brees
  • Jameis Winston
  • Taysom Hill

This is the easiest position to project. Brees continues to play at a Pro Bowl level after 19 seasons and continues his assault on the league's all-time passing records in pursuit of a second championship. New Orleans has the best backup QB situation in the league after signing the 26-year-old Winston, fresh off a 5,000-yard/33-touchdown season, away from the Buccaneers. The jury is still out on Hill's future as a QB, but one certain thing is his importance to the New Orleans offense. His running ability and improved receiving skills allow him to be a threat all around the offensive formation and has been a nightmare for opposing defenses.

RUNNING BACK (4)

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) pulls away from defensive back Chris Banjo (31) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) pulls away from defensive back Chris Banjo (31) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

  • Alvin Kamara
  • Latavius Murray
  • Dwayne Washington
  • Michael Burton (fullback)

Burton replaces the retired Zach Line for a New Orleans team that uses the FB more than most. Expect a dynamic season from the versatile and dangerous Kamara, who was hobbled by leg injuries in 2019. Murray is a power back with underrated elusiveness and receiving ability who should be a bigger part of the Saints offense in his second year with the team. Washington will be pushed by Ty Montgomery and rookie UDFA Tony Jones Jr. He should hold on to his spot because of his familiarity with the team's system and his special teams contributions, while I expect Montgomery to also be on the team because of his receiving ability.

(Practice Squad = Tony Jones Jr.*)

WIDE RECEIVER (6)

Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) runs after a pass reception against Minnesota Vikings strong safety Andrew Sendejo (34) during the first quarter of a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick Hingle-USA TODAY

Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) runs after a pass reception against Minnesota Vikings strong safety Andrew Sendejo (34) during the first quarter of a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick Hingle-USA TODAY

  • Michael Thomas
  • Emmanuel Sanders
  • Ty Montgomery (WR/RB)
  • Tre'Quan Smith
  • Deonte Harris
  • Bennie Fowler

The offseason signing of Sanders finally gives the Saints a bonafide second threat at WR to go alongside record-setting All-Pro Michael Thomas. While these two will be a lethal tandem for defenses to handle, the other spots on this unit are up in the air.

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) catches a pass over defensive back Patrick Robinson (21) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) catches a pass over defensive back Patrick Robinson (21) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

Smith has been inconsistent over his first two years, but the team expects big things from him as a 3rd wideout this season. Deonte Harris, an All-Pro selection as a kick returner as an undrafted rookie last season, may play a bigger role in the offense. I believe Montgomery earns a spot because of both his receiving skills and ability to play RB if needed. Fowler, who played with Sanders in Denver, is a six-year vet who has good athleticism, plays physically, and excels on special teams. I give him the edge over second-year wideouts Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Emmanuel Butler, promising rookie UDFA receivers Juwan Johnson and Marquez Callaway, and veteran Austin Carr.

(Practice Squad = Marquez Callaway*, Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Juwan Johnson)

TIGHT END (3)

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (87) runs past outside linebacker A.J. Klein (53) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (87) runs past outside linebacker A.J. Klein (53) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

  • Jared Cook
  • Josh Hill
  • Adam Trautman*

Cook, one of the league's most productive tight ends over the last half of 2019, should be even more effective in his 2nd year with Brees. Hill is one of the NFL's finest blockers at the position. Trautman looks like the future starter at TE after the Saints traded two draft picks to move back into the 3rd round to select him. He presents the same size and athletic mismatches that Cook does to opposing defenses but may have a slow start to the year because of his inexperience and the team's other offensive weapons. Seventh-round pick Tommy Stevens, a college QB, has drawn comparisons to Taysom Hill because of his size and athletic ability. He will be given time to develop his versatile skills on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

(Practice Squad = Tommy Stevens*)

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Jul 28, 2018; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive line runs a sled drill during training camp at New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

Jul 28, 2018; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive line runs a sled drill during training camp at New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

  • Terron Armstead
  • Andrus Peat
  • Erik McCoy
  • Cesar Ruiz*
  • Ryan Ramczyk
  • Patrick Omameh
  • Calvin Throckmorton*
  • Will Clapp
  • Ethan Greenidge

(Suspected List = James Hurst)

The Saints have one of the most dominant offensive lines in the NFL and are expected to be even more athletic with the addition of 1st round pick Ruiz. OG Nick Easton is one of my surprise cuts here. Easton played extremely well at LG in relief of an injured Peat for six games last year, but was also inactive for six contests despite carrying a high salary. Releasing Easton and going with their younger options would save the Saints $5.3 million dollars in cap space.

Reserve spots will be fiercely competitive here, with an emphasis on versatility. Free agent pickup G/T James Hurst has starting experience but will serve a four-game suspension to start the season, so New Orleans may enter the year with the experience of Easton before making a decision.

(Practice Squad = Jordan Steckler*, Darrin Paulo*)

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

Aug, 3, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) talks to an official during training camp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Aug, 3, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) talks to an official during training camp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

  • Cameron Jordan
  • Marcus Davenport
  • Sheldon Rankins
  • David Onyemata
  • Malcom Brown
  • Shy Tuttle
  • Trey Hendrickson
  • Carl Granderson
  • Margus Hunt

New Orleans has one of the deepest defensive lines in the NFL, and there is sure to be a few talented players who will latch on to another team. One such decision will be between veterans Hunt and Mario Edwards Jr. Both players can play multiple spots, but releasing Edwards would save the team over $2.3 million in cap space. The team is excited about the potential of Granderson and hoping for healthy campaigns from both Davenport and Rankins to go along with their disruptive rotation up front.

(Practice Squad = DT Malcolm Roach*)

LINEBACKER (6)

Jul 28, 2018; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis (56) forces a fumble by running back Jonathan Williams (32) during training camp at New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

Jul 28, 2018; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis (56) forces a fumble by running back Jonathan Williams (32) during training camp at New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

  • Demario Davis
  • Alex Anzalone
  • Nigel Bradham
  • Zack Baun*
  • Kaden Elliss
  • Craig Robertson

(PUP List = Kiko Alonso)

All-Pro Demario Davis leads a talented unit full of durability questions. New Orleans signed talented starter Bradham hoping to bring exciting 3rd round pick Baun along a little more slowly. Alonso may not be ready for the opener while recovering from a knee injury suffered in last January's playoff loss to Minnesota. Once he is ready, the Saints may have a tough decision between promising 2nd year player Elliss and reliable veteran Robertson if they keep six at this position.

(Practice Squad = Joe Bachie*, Andrew Dowell)

CORNERBACK (5)

Jul 29, 2017; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) during training camp at the Metairie Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

Jul 29, 2017; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) during training camp at the Metairie Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

  • Marshon Lattimore
  • Janoris Jenkins
  • P.J. Williams
  • Justin Hardee
  • Keith Washington*

Lattimore and Jenkins make up one of the NFL's best duo of starting corners, but the rest of this unit has been questionable in coverage. Williams is valuable to the defense because of his versatility, and Hardee is outstanding on special teams. I see the team choosing UDFA rookie Washington over the veteran Patrick Robinson, but would not be surprised if they added another CB before the season opener.

(Practice Squad = Tino Ellis *)

SAFETY (5)

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (22) works against tight end Dan Arnold (85) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (22) works against tight end Dan Arnold (85) during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

  • Marcus Williams
  • Malcolm Jenkins
  • Ceedy Duce
  • J.T. Gray
  • D.J. Swearinger

The Saints have a crew of talented and versatile safeties, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them keep a sixth S over a fifth CB while they develop both Washington and Ellis. Duce, formerly C.J. Gardner-Johnson, is often used in man coverage and is the team’s top slot coverage option. He, Jenkins, and Marcus Williams will often be deployed on the field at the same time, and Gray earns his spot because of his elite special teams ability. If the Saints keep five safeties, I think they'll choose the veteran reliability of Swearinger over 2nd year S Saquan Hampton, who had an impressive 2019 preseason.

(Practice Squad = Saquan Hampton)

SPECIALISTS (3)

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz (3) attempts a field goal from the hold of punter Thomas Morstead (6) in the second half against the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz (3) attempts a field goal from the hold of punter Thomas Morstead (6) in the second half against the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

  • Wil Lutz (K)
  • Thomas Morstead (P)
  • Zach Wood (LS)

Another simple choice here, despite the presence of undrafted rookie P Blake Gilliken on the roster. Lutz and Morstead, while overlooked nationally, are each among the best at their positions, while Wood is both consistent and reliable.

Jul 28, 2018; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) tackles wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during training camp at New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 28, 2018; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) tackles wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during training camp at New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There are sure to be some talented players left on the outside looking in when New Orleans HC Sean Payton makes his roster decisions. Despite the lack of preseason games and many of the spots on this Super Bowl contender established, these training camp practices will still be fiercely competitive for playing time. Perhaps even leading to a few surprise roster decisions in early September.