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Thursday, May 15, 2014
Breaking down Saints' full depth chart

By Mike Triplett

Over the past two days, I broke down the New Orleans Saints’ crowded position battles at wide receiver and cornerback.

Here’s a look at their entire depth chart after they added 26 new players over the past week, bringing the total to 88. (NOTE: For purposes of this list, I stuck with how I think the players are currently stacked on the depth chart, rather than predicting how things will ultimately shake out.)

Brees
Quarterback
Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Ryan Griffin, Logan Kilgore

Comment: It will be interesting to see if Griffin can advance enough in Year 2 to push McCown for the backup role.

Running back
Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, Travaris Cadet, Tim Flanders

Comment: It’s still an embarrassment of riches here for the Saints, even after they traded away Darren Sproles. Even Flanders’ resume looks impressive. Check out my latest fantasy-related breakdown of how I think the running backs will be used.

Wide receiver
Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Brandin Cooks, Robert Meachem, Nick Toon, Joe Morgan, Andy Tanner, Brandon Coleman, Chris Givens, Charles Hawkins, Seantavius Jones

Comment: Tough crowd here, with Meachem, Toon, Morgan and Tanner possibly battling for just two roster openings. A young player like Coleman could also crack the roster if the Saints keep a “redshirt” spot open. I broke it down at length on Wednesday.

Graham
Tight end
Jimmy Graham, Benjamin Watson, Josh Hill, Je’Ron Hamm, Nic Jacobs

Comment: Pretty easy to figure out the pecking order here. Hill’s role will probably expand a bit, especially since the Saints didn’t draft anyone at the position.

Fullback
Erik Lorig, Austin Johnson

Comment: I’m curious to see how the Saints use the taller Lorig in a possible fullback/tight end hybrid role. Johnson has an outside shot to crack the roster in his second year.

Offensive tackle
RT Zach Strief, LT Terron Armstead, Bryce Harris, Marcel Jones, Tavon Rooks, Ty Nsekhe, Manase Foketi

Comment: The Saints have some decent young depth here, since Harris has made some cameo appearances in the backup tackle/extra tight end role. I’m not sure who will be the second-strong left tackle, though, since Harris, Jones and Rooks all profile more as right tackles.

Lelito
Center
Tim Lelito, Matthew Armstrong

Comment: The Saints are high on Lelito’s potential. And Armstrong, who comes from the same school – Grand Valley State – was rated highly among the Saints’ undrafted pickups. But I still expect them to bring in veteran Jonathan Goodwin to add some competition and insurance. Otherwise they’ll be awfully thin at both the center and guard spots.

Guard
Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Senio Kelemete, Mike Golic Jr., Micajah Reynolds

Comment: The starters are obvious. But the depth is a huge question mark here, too. There’s an opportunity for a young player to win that backup swingman guard/center job this year just like Lelito did last year as an undrafted free agent.

Defensive end
Cameron Jordan, Akiem Hicks, Tyrunn Walker, Glenn Foster, George Uko, Lawrence Virgil

Comment: The Saints are about as strong here as any position on the roster. I’m expecting a monster season from Hicks, who might one day join Jordan as a Pro Bowler. Uko, by the way, is one of the more highly rated of the Saints’ undrafted free-agent pickups out of USC.

Bunkley
Nose tackle
Brodrick Bunkley, John Jenkins, Brandon McCray, Moses McCray

Comment: The Saints have a great 1-2 punch here with a veteran in Bunkley and young ascending player in Jenkins at a position where they like to rotate to keep guys fresh. I’m guessing this is where both McCrays will line up based on his size.

Outside linebacker
Junior Galette, Parys Haralson, Victor Butler, Keyunta Dawson, Rufus Johnson, Kyle Knox, Ronald Butler, Kasim Edebali, Chidera Uzo-Diribe

Comment: This will be one of the most intriguing positions to watch this year with Butler returning from injury, Johnson trying to make that Year 2 leap and Powell arriving as one of the more fascinating high-upside athletes from this year’s draft class. Depending on special-teams roles, four to six guys could potentially make the roster.

Inside linebacker
Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber, Kevin Reddick, Khairi Fortt, Spencer Hadley

Comment: It’s hard to imagine any of the top five guys on this list being left off the 53-man roster. Humber is a core special-teams player. Reddick played extensively as a backup and special-teamer as an undrafted rookie last year. And Fortt comes in as a fourth-round draft pick with high upside.

Lewis
Cornerback
Keenan Lewis, Champ Bailey, Corey White, Patrick Robinson, Rod Sweeting, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Trevin Wade, Terrence Frederick, A.J. Davis, Derrius Brooks, Brian Dixon

Comment: A fascinating position. Loaded with candidates with NFL experience but not many sure things in the bunch. The battle for the No. 2 and 3 jobs might be the most compelling in camp. I broke it down here Thursday morning.

Safety
Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro, Rafael Bush, Vinnie Sunseri, Marcus Ball, Pierre Warren, Ty Zimmerman

Comment: The top three are cemented. And Sunseri should have a good shot at the roster after the Saints invested a fifth-round pick in him – especially because of his special-teams abilities. Special teams will be key for all of the younger guys.

Specialists
P Thomas Morstead, K Shayne Graham, K Derek Dimke, LS Justin Drescher

Comment: The only battle will be at kicker. Graham obviously has the huge edge in experience, but Dimke has performed well in the last two preseasons for other teams. So he has a shot.