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Where Saints roster stands: Defense/special teams

Below is an unofficial projection of where the New Orleans Saints defensive and special teams depth charts currently stands after the NFL draft and their undrafted free agent signings. Click here for a look at the offense.

LDE -- Akiem Hicks, Tyeler Davison, Kaleb Eulls

RDE -- Cameron Jordan, Glenn Foster, Bobby Richardson, Tavaris Barnes

NT -- Brodrick Bunkley, John Jenkins, Lawrence Virgil, Ashaad Mabry

OLB -- Junior Galette, Anthony Spencer, Kasim Edebali, Davis Tull

OLB -- Parys Haralson, Hau’oli Kikaha, Ronald Powell

ILB -- David Hawthorne, Stephone Anthony, Jerry Franklin

ILB -- Dannell Ellerbe, Ramon Humber, Stephon Sanders, Markus Pierce-Brewster

LCB -- Keenan Lewis, Kyle Wilson, P.J. Williams, Brian Dixon, Damian Swann

RCB -- Brandon Browner, Terrence Frederick, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Delvin Breaux

SS -- Kenny Vaccaro, Jamarca Sanford, Vinnie Sunseri

FS -- Jairus Byrd, Rafael Bush, Pierre Warren, Kenny Phillips

SPECIAL TEAMS:

P -- Thomas Morstead

K -- Shayne Graham, Dustin Hopkins

LS -- Justin Drescher

H -- Luke McCown

PR -- Brandin Cooks, Jalen Saunders

KR -- Jalen Saunders, Marcus Murphy

Thoughts:

  • The battle for the third cornerback job should be one of the most compelling on the roster. Newcomers Wilson, Breaux, Williams and Swann could all be contenders. Frederick and Dixon both earned significant roles last year and will try to hang on to them. But the most fascinating cornerback to watch will be Jean-Baptiste. The Saints essentially decided to redshirt Jean-Baptiste last year after drafting him in the second round, saying they expected it would take him time to develop as a raw talent. But it’s probably make-or-break time for him this year with so many other contenders vying for roster spots.

  • I’m even more excited to see all the new linebackers in action because so many of them could bring a new element to New Orleans’ defense. The Saints finally have some additional edge rushers to supplement Galette in veteran Spencer and rookie Kikaha. And they could have more athleticism than ever on the inside with veteran Ellerbe and rookie Anthony. It’s a position group that needed this makeover.

  • There’s a great opportunity for fifth-round draft pick Davison or undrafted rookies Eulls, Richardson or Barnes to earn roster spots since the Saints are so thin on experienced talent along the line. The Saints have a recent history of using undrafted rookies like Foster and Tyrunn Walker in key backup roles there.

  • Of all the newcomers on this list, the most enticing and important one is Byrd, who’s not really a newcomer. But this will be his first full offseason with the team since his summer was wiped out by back surgery last year (before his regular season was wiped out by knee surgery). Byrd could still have the huge impact in 2015 that was expected last year.