By Andrew Schuster @ShootsMcGavin on July 30, 2014
New Orleans Saints training camp is underway at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. While a majority of the players already have themselves locked into the 53-man roster, others will be battling it out just to make the cut. The Black and Gold may be looking at the most talented team the franchise has ever seen, so here is my prediction for the Saints' final depth chart heading into the 2014 season.
Drew Brees, Ryan Griffin
While Brees is the obvious starter, sophomore Ryan Griffin, veteran Luke McCown and undrafted rookie Logan Kilgore will be involved in a three-way battle to back up the Pro Bowl QB. McCown is the favorite, but I see Griffin eventually stealing the spotlight after looking very sharp up to this point. Kilgore shouldn't be a factor.
RB- Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, Pierre Thomas, Travaris Cadet
FB- Erik Lorig
I see a nice little one-two punch eventually developing between Ingram and Robinson while Thomas takes over third-down duties for short yardage and his exquisite screen game. Cadet is the favorite to take over the Darren Sproles role, as he possesses the versatility, elite speed and hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Brandin Cooks, Robert Meachem, Joe Morgan, Nick Toon
Colston, Stills and Cooks are locked in as the one, two and three. After that, it's all up for grabs between Meachem, Morgan and Toon. Don't be surprised if undrafted free agents Brandon Coleman or Seantavius Jones steal the sixth spot -- chances are slim, but it's a possibility. The Saints may even cut back at another position to add a seventh receiver.
Jimmy Graham, Benjamin Watson, Nic Jacobs
Graham, the top tight end in the league, is a no-brainer with Watson immediately following him. A blooming battle between Josh Hill, Nic Jacobs and Je'Ron Hamm is on the rise. Hill was solid as the No. 3 last season, but I see Jacobs eventually relieving him of his duties. The undrafted free agent brings both excellent strength as a blocker and great hands as a receiver.
C- Jonathan Goodwin, Tim Lelito
T- Zach Strief (RT), Terron Armstead (LT), Bryce Harris, Tavon Rooks
G- Jahri Evans (RG), Ben Grubbs (LG), Tim Lelito
The guards and tackles are set, but a battle is brewing at center. I see Goodwin, who returned to New Orleans after a three-year stint in San Francisco, stealing the center spot from Lelito, the favorite at the moment. Lelito will add depth at both center and guard (his original position).
NT- John Jenkins, Brodrick Bunkley, Rufus Johnson
DE- Cam Jordan (RE), Akiem Hicks (LE), Glenn Foster, Rufus Johnson, George Uko
When Jenkins returns from the PUP list, he will take the NT job from Bunkley. Jordan and Hicks are set, but Foster may give Hicks a run for his money. Johnson has been taking reps all across the line, so he adds a good depth on the end; and in the middle, UDFA Uko beats out Tyrunn Walker.
ILB- Curtis Lofton (Starting), David Hawthorne (Starting), Kevin Reddick, Ramon Humber, Khairi Fortt
OLB- Junior Galette (ROLB), Victor Butler (LOLB), Parys Haralson, Ronald Powell, Kasim Edebali
Lofton is a lock, but we could see a nice little battle brew between Hawthorne and Reddick. Galette is a lock and Butler will looking to reclaim the starting role after missing all of 2013. Powell, Fortt and Edebali (UDFA) are intriguing rookies.
CB- Keenan Lewis, Champ Bailey, Corey White, Patrick Robinson, Stanley Jean-Baptiste
FS- Jairus Byrd, Rafael Bush
SS- Kenny Vaccaro, Vinnie Sunseri
Ball (CFL transfer) could make his way in if the Saints decide to cut at another position. Other possibilities: Rod Sweeting (CB) and Pierre Warren (S) in with cut backs at other spots. Sweeting has great upside and UDFA Warren has been the talk of camp so far.
Kicker- Shayne Graham
Punter/KOS- Thomas Morstead
Long snapper- Justin Drescher
Morstead and Drescher are locked in. We could see a battle develop between Graham and Derek Dimke, who was signed to a futures contract in January, but I see the veteran Graham winning the fight. The Saints may keep Dimke around if the they decide to slim down somewhere else, but two kickers are unlikely.
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