There is absolutely no question who the Saints will start the 2019 season with as far as the quarterback position is concerned. The starting quarterback will undoubtedly be 18-year vet, Drew Brees. Brees is coming off a year where he was a runner-up for the NFL MVP Award. He will be backed up by the only other two quarterbacks on the roster, Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill. Taysom Hill will be taking on a similar role to last season where he played five different positions. Bridgewater, however, will resume the traditional backup role.
There’s a lot of competition at the running back spot following the departure of veteran, Mark Ingram. Alvin Kamara is arguably the best running back in the NFL and easily has the starting job secured. The Saints also brought in former Raiders and Vikings running back, Latavius Murray, in the offseason to lighten Kamara’s workload. The third spot is currently a battle between Devine Ozigbo, Dwayne Washington, and Jacquizz Rodgers. I’m giving the nod to Washington, as he has been on the Saints for a couple years and has had success. I fully expect Ozigbo to be on the practice squad or maybe even make the final 53 man roster.
The Fullback battle has been a two man race since the start of Training Camp. Zach Line will ultimately be the guy who stays as he has been the starting Fullback for the past two seasons and has shown no reason why he should not resume his role in 2019. Mike Burton was brought in as nothing more than a camp body to keep Line competitive.
Wide receiver will be a position that takes up the majority of the Saints’ roster spots as I have them keeping six on the active roster and two on the practice squad. Those making the final cut include Austin Carr, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Keith Kirkwood, and Trequan Smith. I have Cyril Grayson and Deonte Harris starting off on the practice squad. We could easily see Harris getting the nod in the final 53 depending on who wins the kick returning battle between him and Marcus Sherels, but as of now I’m giving the nod to Sherels.
The tight end battle has by far been the most competitive camp battle thus far. The first two spots of the likely three available are simple: Josh Hill and newly acquired Jared Cook. However, the third spot is up for grabs. It’s likely only a battle between Dan Arnold and 7th round pick out of Notre Dame, Alize Mack, at this point. But due to Mack being injured for the majority of camp, I think he winds up on the practice squad and Arnold will get the final spot.
I have the Saints keeping four offensive tackles due to the versatility of the entire Saints offensive line. The Saints will surely hold on to pro bowlers Terron Armstead and Andrus Peat (who will likely start at guard). Ryan Ramczyk will anchor down the opposite tackle spot and they will be backed up by reliable veteran Michael Ola.
Like I mentioned when I was talking about the offensive tackles, the Saints’ line is extremely versatile, likely the most versatile in the league. Therefore, I only have the Saints keeping three guards on the roster to start the season. With tackle Andrus Peat likely starting at guard, pro bowler Larry Warford will start alongside him. They will be backed up by newly acquired veteran Nick Easton and Patrick Omameh.
It’s usually rare to see an NFL team carry more than two centers on their final roster, but all three of the Saints’ centers can play guard as well. Second round draft pick Erik McCoy will get the start at center and he will be backed up by Will Clapp and Cameron Tom. If they elect to cut one of the two, Clapp will be more likely to hit the road.
I have the Saints keeping four ends due to the versatility of the defensive line. Pro bowler Cameron Jordan and rising star Marcus Davenport will be the starters, but they will likely be backed up by Mario Edwards Jr and Trey Hendrickson. I wouldn’t be surprised if 6’10” Corbin Kaufusi cracks the final 53 man roster as well.
Due to Sheldon Rankins being injured to start the season, I will leave him off the 53 man roster as he is on Injured Reserve. Newly acquired Malcom Brown will have to help carry the weight alongside David Onyemata, Ziggy Hood, and Taylor Stallworth.
The Saints biggest concern in my opinion is linebacker depth. That’s why I think the Saints will keep quite a few. The starters will be Demario Davis, AJ Klein, and Alex Anzalone. They will be backed up by Will Compton, Craig Robertson, Kaden Elliss, and Vince Biegel. I think fan favorite Porter Gustin will likely start the season on the practice squad.
It’s nice to look at our cornerbacks and realize that there is so much talent in our secondary! Eli Apple and Marshon Lattimore are going to be the Week One starters and they will likely be backed up by Justin Hardee, Marcus Sherels, and PJ Williams. Unfortunately, I do think Veterans Kayvon Webster and Patrick Robinson will be cut, although I would love to see the Saints hold on to them.
The two starting safeties will be Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams. The backups will be rookies Saquon Hampton and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Chris Banjo could make the roster, but it will be a tough call as the two rookies each have had phenomenal camps.
The kicker will be Wil Lutz, as he proved to be a top three kicker in the NFL last season. The punter will be Thomas Morstead, who will be returning for his 10th season as the Saints’ punter. The long snapper will be Zach Wood.
Michael Balko is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @michaelbalko on Twitter.