Some new faces will give this defense quite the edge heading into this season.
Training camp is just weeks away and while this New Orleans Saints roster looks to be mostly set for camp which starts on July 19th for rookies and the 26th for veterans, this roster certainly is built much differently compared to the last couple seasons. With Malcolm Jenkins retirement, there are now no more players from the Super Bowl XLVI roster and with Sean Payton stepping down, only Dennis Allen, Pete Carmichael, Zach Strief and Brian Young remain on the coaching staff from that Super Bowl. That said, let’s start the second part of this projection with the defense who, lost some key starters in the offseason, but managed to recover. You can read who made my cut on the offensive side of the ball here.
Defensive Line: Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, Payton Turner, Kentavius Street, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Carl Granderson, Jordan Jackson (9)
This group is deep to say the least, from the defensive end position to the interior this group is stacked. Guys like Malcom Roach and Albert Higgins who got plenty of snaps last season could be on the outside looking in. I believe the defensive end group is pretty much set. It would take an key injury or just flat out superior play for Taco Charlton to crack the roster. Assuming Turner and Davenport can stay healthy this upcoming season could be something special for this group.
Linebacker: Demario Davis, Pete Werner, Kaden Ellis, Zack Baun, Andrew Dowell, D’Marco Jackson (6)
The Saints mostly play nickle or sub packages with C.J. Gardner- Johnson or potentially Mathieu or P.J. Williams to lineup as your third traditional linebacker. I expect Pete Werner to pick up from where his season ended last year and will only get better from here. Ellis as your early downs/run package worked fine last year and don’t see why it wouldn’t again. Jackson is someone I am very excited see during camp, the same can’t be said for Zach Baun who is facing a big season.
Secondary: Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby, Alontae Taylor, P.J. Williams, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Maye, Tyrann Mathieu, J.T. Gray (9)
This group will be the most fun to watch no question. The team was 70 million over the cap, lost both Marcus Williams and Malcom Jenkins, and somehow they got better at the position. Getting Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu is a huge reason why I believe this team will be once again contending in the NFC. Lattimore was recently ranked as the 2nd best corner in the NFL, a survey which was done by several players, coaches, and front office members. Paulson Adebo was such a steal last year that this secondary might be among the best in the league. Smoke Monday is a guy who certainly make this roster, but we might just be too stacked at the position. He certainly would be put on the practice squad if that were the case.
Special Teams: Wil Lutz, Blake Gillikin, Zach Wood (3)
As great as getting Michael Thomas back is, if the Saints had Wil Lutz last season they are a 10 win team and getting in the playoffs. He might be the most meaningful player returning from injury considering he was one of the better kickers. Gillikin was absolutely game changing last year in changing field position and can’t wait to see him in year 2.
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