Aug 26, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha (44) against the Houston Texans during the first half of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome

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Saints Bubble Watch: Where they stand before Arizona

Tough decisions across the roster are looming

Seth Dunlap
August 16, 2018 - 7:21 pm
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The roster 'bubble' for the Saints is unusually large this year.  That happens when you return 21 of 22 starters off of last year's team and used this offseason to get deeper at multiple positions.

What does the bubble look like heading into the Saints match-up against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night?  Let's take a look!

*Note, if you don't see a player mentioned, they're either a shoo-in to make the roster, or an increbile long shot.  Either way they don't fit the bill of being "on the bubble"*

Quarterback

There's no real bubble here in my opinion.  Taysom Hill will be on the final 53 man roster with his value on special teams, and Tom Savage has looked like the better, more capable backup to Drew Brees.  Both Hill and Savage are likely to make the final roster, unless the Saints look out of house to find Brees' primary backup.

Running Back

  • Boston Scott -  The sixth round draft pick was mainly expected to compete for the punt and kick return jobs.  While he's looked less than impressive there, he has exceeded expectations as a running back.  With Terrance West and Shane Vereen having various struggles of their own, Scott could be a surprise addition to the final 53 -- at least until Mark Ingram returns.
  • Jonathan Williams - It'd be a surprise at this point if Williams wasn't on this team, and on the active roster, openeing week against Tampa Bay.  Williams looks like a solid rotational option behind Kamara, and eventually Ingram also.
  • Terrance West - He impressed the first week of camp, but then had ball security issues and has struggled to break out since.  He needs a good couple of preseason games and more consistent practices.
  • Shane Vereen - If Vereen makes this team he would be primarily used in passing situations or third downs, but don't they already have that guy in Alvin Kamara?   Scott also fills his role and, frankly, has been more impressive.
  • Trey Edmunds - Head coach Sean Payton has emphasized players' value on special teams the past two seasons, and he likes Edmunds role there.  He's not safe when there are an inordinate amount of tough decisions to be made come cut-down time, however, so he remains one to watch.  

Wide Receiver

  • Keith Kirkwood - Let's start it off by mentioning the hottest name in Saints 'bubble' conversations this week.  It's no secret that both Payton and receivers coach Curtis Johnson love Kirkwood.  It's also no secret that Kirkwood has some of the best hands on the team as he's rarely seen dropping a catchable pass.  Yet, the receiver position group is incredibly deep and tough cuts are surely ahead here.
  • Tommylee Lewis - Speaking of tough cuts, Lewis seemed like a lock to be on this roster before camp started.  However, he's failed to separate from other contenders at kick or punt returner, and the team signed Brandon Tate who fills a very similar role to Lewis.  It's obvious that Lewis is deserving of being on an opening day roster somewhere in the NFL, it's less obvious if that's here.
  • Brandon Tate - Tate looked good as a returner against Jacksonville in the team's first preseason game.  If he continues to show the coaching staff he can be trusted there, he'll lock up a roster spot very soon.
  • Michael Floyd - I'm admittedly higher on Floyd that most others, but you can just see the raw talent that oozes out of him.  He's still getting in game shape, and he hasn't had any true "wow" moments at camp, but having another veteran red-zone presence like Floyd has to be appealing to Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.  
  • Josh Huff - Can Huff contribute on special teams?  That's his only chance of making this roster.

Tight End

  • Dan Arnold - I was never on board the Dan Arnold Hype Train.  It's a nice story, a former wide receiver converting and learning a new position.  He's also eating a lot more recently.  Nice stories don't win you jobs in the NFL.
  • Deon Yelder - Social media was aflutter this offseason with Yelder as well.  Again, I never took the bait.  Yelder is a project, and one that the coaches undoubtedly envision eventually having a role on this team.  That's why they gave him a whopping $90,000 in guaranteed money, a rarity for an undrafted rookie.  They'll try to keep him on the active roster or risk him getting poached away off the waiver wire, but who then gets cut instead?  
  • Garrett Griffin - One of the breakout performers at camp, Griffin has proved to be valuable both as a rotational tight end but also as a special teams ace.  He would seem to be a nice addition to a roster looking to increase depth and talent around the edges.
  • John Phillips - A long shot to make the final roster currently, Phillps provides a nice veteran precense to this group and could make the cut if injuries affect the other veterans at the position.

Offensive Line

  • Cameron Tom - He would seem to be the primary backup to Max Unger currently, but his lack of versatility is a check mark in the negative column. 
  • Will Clapp - The seventh round pick has been the darling of LSU/Saints crossover fans all camp long.  Clapp has acclimated to the role of reserve guard/center combo nicely, but he's still learning on the job.  This seems like one of the guys you could safely get through to the practice squad.
  • Josh LeRibeus - We saw LeRibeus with some eye-sore performances at camp last year, espcially while filling in for Unger at center.  He's cleaned things up this camp, and could fill a nice versatile role on the interior of the offensive line if he continues to improve over the next few weeks.
  • Rick Leonard - It's highly unlikely the Saints could sneak Leonard onto the practice squad.  You just don't see that happen very often with fourth round picks.  Because of that, it's more likely than not he'll make the final roster.  However, the former defensive lineman hasn't been impressive and is certainly a work in progress.
  • Landon Turner - Turner is hanging onto the bubble but needs to separate from the other guys menioned in this group to have a shot to make the final 53.

Defensive Line

  • Mitchell Loewen - It's almost an insult to put Loewen on any 'bubble' list.  He's been a nice addition to the special teams units, and has also looked competent as a rotational back up along the defensive line.  It's be a bit surprising to see Loewen left off the final roster.
  • Al-Quadin Muhammad - The Saints kept Muhammad on the active roster all of last season for fear of losing him to a waiver-wire grab.  A lot depends on the health of Alex Okafor moving forward, but the writing was on the wall for the second-year player from Miami as soon as the team drafted Marcus Davenport.
  • Jay Bromley - If the team wants to keep more big bodies along the defensive interior then Bromley fits the bill.  The 314-pound Bromley could be a rotational run-stuffer in short yardage situations. 

Linebacker

  • Hau'oli Kikaha - The former second round draft pick is no longer an automatic to make the final roster.  His role has shifted back to linebacker after working at defensive end last season.  It's easy to root for Kikaha, one of the nicest guys in the NFL.  However, he faces an uphill battle currently to supplant other players at this position group.
  • Nate Stupar - The special teams ace has created a nice niche for himself in the NFL.  He'd be an absolute lock to make nearly any roster in the league.  This isn't any roster.  The depth at lineback is, all of the sudden, overflowing.   Coupled with incredibly tough decisions littered throughout the team, Stupar's place on the final-53 is, at least a bit, less certain.
  • Jayrone Elliott - With a 2.5 sack performance against Jacksonville, Elliot has thrust himself into consideration for a spot at linebacker.  He's still a long shot, but with a couple more in-game performances like that and they won't be able to keep him off the final roster

Cornerback

  • Arthur Maulet - One of the feel-good stories of camp, the local product out of Bonnabel High School has been impressive at camp.  With the release of Devonte Harris, Maulet's chances of making this roster got a big shot in the arm.
  • Natrelle Jamerson - Position coach Aaron Glenn told the media, "don't sleep on (Jamerson)" earlier this week.  This is another player that likely wouldn't pass through waivers unclaimed, so they'll try to find a way for him to be on the final roster.  
  • Justin Hardee - His path to a job goes straight through his work on special teams.  He would have to be an absoulte stand out performer there to crack the roster.  He's had flashes of excellence, and his charisma has endeared him to some fans, but the road is still straight uphill for him.

Safety

  • Kamrin Moore - The sixth round draft pick just hasn't has enough stand-out moments over the summer to think he isn't destined for the practice squad.  Unlike Jamerson and others, he's likely to slip thru waivers and find a home there.

 

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