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Kristian's Saints roster evaluation

September 04, 2018 - 8:33 am

First off, the final roster is not so final as we learned the Saints were releasing RB Trey Edmunds and signing OL Josh LeRibius after the league mandated deadline Saturday to trim the roster to 53 players. However, having a chance to digest what the team will look like in this Sunday’s opener against Tampa Bay, here are a few of my thoughts.

Biggest Surprise Cut:  Clearly it was the decision to cut Jonathan Williams at running back.  He figured to be the guy who could spell Mark Ingram during his four game suspension that is underway this week. Coach Sean Payton warned us that the guys who were on the 90 man roster weren’t the only names to consider for the Saints 53 man roster.  We just didn’t listen.  The Saints signed veteran RB Mike Gillislee after New England turned him loose.

“I think the vision is a first and second down runner who has given them (teams he is played for) hard yards. He is a guy that can be physical, and he can handle the workload. So the vision for the player’s not to bring him in and throw him the ball 15 times a game,” Sean Payton said about the addition of Gillislee. Payton expects the veteran to get up to speed quickly on the Saints offense.

Biggest Surprise Keep:  It’s clearly defensive back J.T. Gray, the undrafted rookie from Mississippi State. Gray only played in two preseason games due to injury but was one of the standout special teams players. Gray is exactly what the Saints are looking for in that part of the game. “He can run and hit in the kicking game exceptionally well and is one of those guys that when I talk about the kicking game making it (on) special teams, he's an example,” Payton added.

Incredible Depth:  If you look at any good team with a chance to win, you have to look at the depth.  It’s one thing to have bodies on your roster.  It’s another to have capable bodies once injuries happen. The Saints have that.  Three draft picks from this year’s class were let go.  One returned to the practice squad (OL Rick Leonard), and two were claimed by other teams (CB Natrell Jamerson and S Kamrin Moore).  That’s a testament to the depth the Saints have in particular in the secondary.  So why draft them? It’s simple.  Teams are always trying to replace the smaller veterans on the roster with bigger, cheaper options.

Defensive Line Depth:  All of a sudden the Saints have some surprisingly good defensive line depth.  The team kept undrafted rookie Taylor Stallworth and flipped defensive lineman Devaroe Lawrence into a seventh round draft pick. All the while cutting last year’s 7th round pick Al-Quadin Muhammad.  The depth along the defensive line was considered a concern at the start of camp, and the Saints don’t view it that way.  When you are able to trade an undrafted free agent for a 7th round pick you’ve done something good.

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