Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Butler (17) catches a pass during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

Derek E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports

Seth Dunlap's Saints 53-man roster projection

Whittling down the roster

Seth Dunlap
August 28, 2019 - 7:29 pm

Projecting the initial 53-man roster for any NFL team is a futile exercise.  Not only is it hard to get a real read of how coaches are judging players, there's also the complicating factor of a deluge of newly available players on the open market.  As teams across the league start whittling down their roster, many of those players are scooped up by other franchises.  That unpredictability leaves opening day rosters looking much different than most projections will have them just a week out from that date.

With that said, here's my best guess as to how the Saints will trim from 90 to 53 players.  There's one major surprise in here but, hey, this would be pretty boring without at least one head-scratcher!


QB (3): Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill

Notes:  Barring an unexpected trade or injury, these three guys will be on the team’s roster when they open against the Texans.  I’ll promptly move to Aruba if that isn’t the case.


RB (4): Latavius Murray, Alvin Kamara, Zach Line, Dwayne Washington

Notes: Washington has out-performed rookie Devine Ozigbo in the preseason, and he’s a valuable member of the special team’s units. 


WR (6): Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Austin Carr, Keith Kirkwood

Notes:  To be frank, anybody comparing Emmanuel Butler to Marques Colston is maybe forgetting what Colston did during his rookie season in 2006.  Colston caught 70 passes for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns that season.  Does anybody really believe Butler, even in a featured role, would produce those numbers now, even in today’s pass-happy NFL?  If the Saints are truly concerned about trying to win a championship now, Carr and Kirkwood will help them more than Butler.  That’s the hard truth.  Brees’ endorsement of Carr helps Payton with this decision.  Now, the other truth is that my wild prediction that Butler doesn't make the team is, admittedly, unlikely to happen but there's always one stunner this time each year.  One coach used to tell me, "You'll never score if you don't shoot, Dunlap!"


TE (4): Jared Cook, Josh Hill, Dan Arnold, Alize Mack

Notes:  The coaches like Mack's potential, but if he makes this roster it will be by the skin of his teeth.  Garrett Griffin would have been a nice fit in this group and on special teams, but the Saints put him on injured reserve this week.


OL (8): Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Larry Warford, Erik McCoy, Cameron Tom, Michael Ola, Nick Easton

Notes:  There are going to be incredibly tough decisions along the offensive line during cut-down time.  The team would love to keep Will Clapp in house, but that would either mean keeping nine lineman, something they rarely ever do, or cutting Nick Easton at a net-loss (or break even) to the salary cap.


DL (10):  Sheldon Rankins, Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, Malcom Brown, Trey Hendrickson, Mario Edwards, Wes Horton, Taylor Stallworth, Sylvester Williams

Notes:  Rankins is a handful of weeks away from playing in a game, meaning the team will carry an extra body along the defensive front.  That job will likely go to Sylvester Williams or Ziggy Hood.  It’s honestly too early to project that, and Thursday’s preseason finale’ may be the determiner.


LB (6):  Craig Robertson, A.J. Klein, Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone, Vince Biegel, Kaden Elliss

Notes:  Shouldn’t be any surprises in this group, unless Robertson has problems getting fully healthy after the injury he suffered in Week 2 of the preseason.


DB (9):  Marshon Lattimore, Eli Apple, P.J. Williams, Justin Hardee, Patrick Robinson, Marcus Williams, Vonn Bell, Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, Chris Banjo

Notes:  Saquan Hampton’s inability to get fully healthy costs him a roster spot, although they should be able to sneak him on the practice squad.  Hardee and Banjo are now special teams stand outs and can also provide secondary depth if necessary.


ST (3): Thomas Morstead, Wil Lutz, Zach Wood

Notes:  This continues to be the most stable specialist trio in the league.  The Saints are truly blessed here.10

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