Keep The Dome Loud (Loomis wannabe) with my roster predictions thus far into training camp. My predictions encompass both the 53-man roster as well as the practice squad. Egghead is going to critique my predictions–so look for his comments. Be gentle, EggBoi!
QB Drew Brees – Luke McCown – Ryan Griffin
WR Lance Moore – Nick Toon – Saalim Hakim – Marques Colston
WR Joseph Morgan – Andy Tanner – Kenny Stills
LT Charles Brown – Jason Smith – Terron Armstead
LG Ben Grubbs – Andrew Tiller – Elliott Mealer
C Brian de la Puente – Eric Olsen
RG Jahri Evans – Ricky Henry
RT Zach Strief – Marcel Jones – Bryce Harris
TE Jimmy Graham – Benjamin Watson – Mike Higgins
FB Jed Collins – Austin Johnson
RB Pierre Thomas – Mark Ingram – Darren Sproles – Travaris Cadet
DE Kenyon Coleman – Akiem Hicks
DE Cameron Jordan – Tom Johnson – Tyrunn Walker
NT Brodrick Bunkley – Isaako Aaitui – John Jenkins
OLB Will Smith – Martez Wilson
OLB Junior Galette – Rufus Johnson – Victor Butler
ILB Jonathan Vilma – David Hawthorne
ILB Curtis Lofton – Chris Chamberlain
CB Jabari Greer – A.J. Davis – Rod Sweeting
CB Keenan Lewis – Corey White – Chris Carr
S Roman Harper – Jim Leonhard – Kenny Vaccaro
S Malcolm Jenkins – Rafael Bush
P Thomas Morstead
K Garrett Hartley
LS Jed Collins
QB: I think Seneca Wallace has lost too much time to injury to overtake McCown as the backup. Additionally, McCown has experience with the Saints offense. I think Griffin makes the practice squad.
WR: I don’t see anyone overtaking the listed receivers. Saalim Hakim has truly been able to stretch the field, and Andy Tanner has caught just about everything thrown to him. He is having a solid training camp.
LT: Charles Brown has the starting job. Jason Smith has more experience than Armstead, and I put him before Armstead. Smith has been better in space than in a phone booth. He stands too tall for proper leverage. If they can correct this, he has a good chance of helping the team. Remember, we have a new O Line coach, and I think there will be a premium on experienced personnel. Also, the Saints rely more on their guards than tackles, and Brees struggles more with pressure on the right side than the left.
LG: Tiller has been solid, and the Saints really like him with good reason. Mealer has had a solid camp and is a huge pick up.
C: Saints have put Olsen in at right guard and center. He is the future for them.
RG: Evans is so solid and healthy; I think the Saints can get away with only one player behind him. Ricky Henry has experience with the program.
RT: Zach Strief has slimmed down and is running well. He looks healthier than in the past but I think given Brees need for protection on the right, the Saints go with two players in depth behind Strief. Marcel Jones has really come along, and I think the Saints like Bryce Harris as well. They will not want to let Harris go, so I think he stays on the practice squad.
TE: Ben Watson is an incredible pick up. I see lots of dual TE sets with him and Graham. Watson ran stride for stride with Graham in end zone to end zone sprints. Given the fact they will use tandem TE sets, I think they keep a third TE—Higgins who has very sure hands.
FB: The Saints have a great player in Jed Collins who I see also taking the place of Justin Drescher as the long snapper since roster spots are more at a premium than in previous years. (There are a lot of quality players brought in this year). The Saints will want someone to back up Collins, and Austin Johnson has had a solid camp especially with the awesome catch in the end zone in the midst of coverage during the Black and Gold Scrimmage.
RB: Saints keep four and hopefully find a way to get Khiry Robinson onto the squad. Robinson runs with authority and may be the answer to the short yardage problems the Saints always struggle with. But I just don’t see them keeping five running backs.
DE: No surprises here. Tyrunn Walker continues to improve (such as solid player) and will definitely make the squad.
NT: Again, no surprises but I think John Jenkins needs to lose some weight and tone up a bit. However, he is more likely to be the future than a right now player.
OLB: No surprises. Rufus Johnson has all the potential to be an absolute beast.
ILB: I think the Saints go with four and use the Safeties closer to the line of scrimmage.
CB: Saints go with six. There is no way in this division we can go without quality CB’s and quantity. I don’t think Patrick Robinson will be able to beat out White, Davis or Sweeting with his lack of reps. Also given the fact Welsey McGriff is new, I think he will go with those that have learned his system. AJ Davis and Sweeting have been great in camp and have tremendous upside.
Safety: Jim Leonhard has had a solid, solid camp, and I don’t think the Saints let him get away. Rafael Bush has made tremendous strides and is constantly found around the ball. I think the Saints will bring Harper and Vaccaro closer in to the line of scrimmage. Like the way Coach McGriff is mixing in all of the DB’s.
K and P: No surprises here. Historically, Hartley has been more inconsistent than he should be but has not struggled in camp. Maltos has been solid. I love the way Maltos came here with English not being his first language and is a great character guy. He is an accurate kicker but I don’t know Hartley has done anything that would lose his starting job. And thus Maltos is unlikely to make the team. However, kudos to him. He and Hartley practice off on their own and don’t really integrate with the rest of the team during drills–yet Maltos keeps a good attitude. I really like this guy and wish him the best of luck in his future.
The egg responds
I won’t bring the hammer down (too much) I kid but I actually like you going out on a limb with your roster. One of the first things that caught my eye was Saalim Hakim making the 53, sometimes it’s easy to over analyse the players but with him it’s about speed. No other player on the roster possesses his wheels, Joe Morgan included. In my opinion, he will earn a roster spot through special teams. I’m on the bubble if he can push out Courtney Roby, I know this isn’t a concrete answer if he makes the 53 and in all probability it is an uphill battle but this is one spot that really is up for grabs.
You have seven WR’s making it, I have six. That leaves Andy Tanner, with the unfortunate injury to Jo Mo it makes this position battle more interesting. The problem I see and it has nothing to do with Andy, he’s been outstanding in camp, is that they need the deep threat. I don’t know if the Saints will open this spot for a possession receiver that runs great routes with good hands in favor of someone who can pull the safeties off the line when they are in the game. I’m going practice squad for Andy.
LT: I do agree Charles Brown Barring injury has locked the spot up but I have to disagree on his back-up. I think Terron Armstead has moved ahead of Jason Smith, and to be quite honest, it’s not what Armstead has done, it’s what Smith has not. Jason Smith has struggled all throughout camp and to be fair, so has Armstead but I still see his athleticism as a huge asset over Smith, I think he continues his improvement with more reps and game situations.
LG no arguments here, Tiller looks healthy and much more ready than a year ago, Mealer could be a nice pick up, he’s looked solid.
C Again no disagreement, Olsen because he is so versatile holds his value.
RG I’m kind of torn on this one, yes Henry has a little experience under his belt but I’m kind of leaning towards Tim Lelito, just a gut feeling on this, nothing more.
RT I can’t argue this one either, Strief does look good and healthy. Marcel Jones is coming along nicely, but I would also throw in Jason Smith in the mix at this spot, it’s the position he’s played at the last two years. It might be a blessing in disguise with Jason, to be able to be versatile.
TE Total agreement here, Watson will turn heads much like Dave Thomas did he first came on board and Higgins sticks around for spot duty.
FB Good point on Collins, I really never thought of his snapping capabilities. Hmmm, something to think about when so many other spots are tight, will they move this direction, who knows but I love the thinking outside the box.
RB We are set at this position but as you stated, Robinson has looked good. He’s shifty with great acceleration and toughness. I like the kid, I’m thinking practice squad and he may be called up at some point.
DE Yep Tyrunn Walker is the real deal, he’s still a little raw but I think he forces them to keep him on the active roster.
NT I like John Jenkins but he needs to lay off the fried shrimp/crawfish tail/crackling/green tomato po-boys. Bunkley needs to prove his money this year in my opinion.
LB RUFUS!!!! sorry had to shout it because even though at times he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s doing it at 100% full speed, the game will slow down for him, it will come.
ILB, I worry about this position mainly because of depth, does Chamberlain, Herring and Humber strike up some confidence, I thought so.
CB Look at KTDL stepping out there on this one, I like it. I’m not saying I agree but I like the thought process. I mean there are only so many spots and someone is going to be left out, as she stated Davis and Sweeting have had their moments while P-Rob jogs, it is a business and there are some hungry players on this team.
S Again no disagreement, I think Leonhard sticks and just by watching some of the schemes in practice, they will find various ways to get them involved, weather it’s flooding one side of the line or getting one up close on the inside box, but one thing I don’t see them doing is leaving one on an island with someone that they can’t cover.
P/K Hartley and the Legs job to lose, they lock it up.
Whelp, KTDL I hope I didn’t step on your roster too bad, but to be honest, I thought it was a pretty good outlook on what we might expect in the coming weeks. And to that I say step on mine because Lord knows I have no clue.