From what I have seen so far this year the Saints have the deepest roster in the NFL. For non Saints fans this may seem like blasphemy but hear me out. I literally looked at the depth chart for an hour yesterday and at several positions had no clue who the team would want to cut. There is not a position on the field that they can lose a starter in and be out of playoff contention.
You can argue the QB position but that goes for any team. Even Mark Brunell is better than lots if not most backups in this league. The Saints main focus this year has been heavy competition at every position which increases the level of play. Even with 9 projected starters held out of the first pre-season game you could still see how solid and crisp the play was from 3rd and 4th string players in a 24-10 win.
I will start with defense and then work my way over to offense specifically the WR position. The Saints have all of the starters on the defensive side off the ball back this year. That is a huge statement considering four of them are projected to NOT be starting this year. New Orleans may not have the very best starters at every position but do not have a significant drop off at any position either.
The defensive line under achieved last year but with the help of Sedrick Ellis should be extremely potent. In fact they have another solid DE from Jacksonville who had 10 sacks two years ago. We also picked up a “star” MLB in Vilma who only adds more strength and depth at the position. The Saints have also picked up three new cornerbacks who are all projected to make the team. Both of the starters are back at the safety spot but one may lose his job. Roman Harper has been very solid and seems to be improving but Bullocks is getting pushed by Kaesviharn.
Kevin was the starter in Cincinnati before coming to the Saints and had 6 interceptions in 2006. Behind Kaesviharn there is another young stud named Chris Reis who is only in his 2nd year but had 3 interceptions in a preseason game last year.
The offense for New Orleans is no doubt the strength of the team but has just as much depth if not more so. Like the defense, the Saints are not missing any starters from last year besides the center. And again like the defense have added more depth. At quarterback you have Drew Brees who is by far one of the best QB’s in the game today and two solid backups. Brunell is a 10 plus year starter and had many good years at Jacksonville including 3 Pro Bowls.
Behind him you have a fiery young QB who beat out another potential backup last year to secure his 3rd string position. Everyone knows McAllister and Bush but not everyone knows Stecker and Thomas. Stecker is the oldest of all of the running backs but seems to be just as quick and shifty as he was years ago. Pierre Thomas has been the talk of the town and seems to have all the tools to be a great back, including a knack for staying on his feet. The O-line also is deeper than it was last year.
Besides the usual starters and backups there are two guys who have been very impressive in camp. Draft choice Carl Nicks has been playing up to his 6’5″ 341 pound frame and 2nd year man Andy Alleman has also been solid.
I did not forget the receivers I just saved the mind boggler for last. Just two years ago the Saints were able to let go of their top three receivers and are in a position now in which they are LOADED at the position. A major reason there is so much depth is because Payton struck late round gold in Colston and Arrington.
The Saints practically have an additional 1st round pick this year in Robert Meachem who has been phenomenal so far this year. They also have David Patten who was the number two receiver last year and Devery Henderson who lead the league in YPC in 2006. On top of that they have two more contributors from last year in Moore and Copper. They also added an explosive kick returner in Skyler Green. Green led the nation in yards-per-return at 18.5 during a National Championship year with LSU. This position has so much depth I honestly do not know who we will keep. My guess would be:
1 Marquis Colston
2 Robert Meachem
3 David Patten
4 Adrian Arrington
5 Terrence Copper
My list is set up this way for a few reasons. Top 3 are just all very solid and don’t have to worry about much at this point. Arrington has way too much upside to be cut and wont make it past waiver wires which I think gives him a spot. Terrence Copper is the most valuable in special teams which keeps him on the team. Lance Moore gets dropped because even with an amazing pre-season last year he was inconsistent during the regular season.
And the big one, Devery gets traded for a 5th round pick strictly because of his big play ability but inconsistency. But overall with what I have seen the Saints are one of if not “the” deepest teams in the NFL.