2006 New Orleans Saints, Version 2.2: Projected 53-Man Roster (Defense/Special Teams)
DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
STARTERS (4): Charles Grant (DE), Will Smith (DE), Brian Young (DT), Hollis Thomas (DT)
BACKUPS (3): Willie Whitehead, Rob Ninkovich, Jimmy Verdon
NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Tony Bryant, Cedric Woodard, Rodney Leisle
COMMENTS: I go with 7 linemen, because we have a defensive coordinator (Gary Gibbs) who will probably eventually convert to the 3-4. The starters are obvious. I have Jonathan Sullivan on the roster right now, because I don’t see anyone else who can beat him out (unless undrafted free agent McKinley Boykin can play). Ultimately, I don’t think Sullivan makes the team at all. He doesn’t sound like a Sean Payton player. Maybe he can go to St. Louis and reunite with Jim Haslett. 6/8 UPDATE: Jonathan Sullivan has been traded to New England. I've put Jimmy Verdon in his spot for now, but the last line position is clearly up for grabs.
STARTERS (3): Tommy Polley(OLB), Anthony Simmons (OLB), Alfred Fincher (MLB)
BACKUPS (3): Colby Bockwoldt, Scott Fujita, Jay Foreman
INJURED RESERVE (1): James Allen
NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Bobby Iwuchukwu
COMMENTS: I hope Fujita and Simmons can play. Simmons sat out a year after injuries, so there is some doubt. Watson and Fincher still have potential. Allen is on my roster for now, just because we don’t have anyone better. I put undrafted free agent Iwuchukwu on the roster for now because A) He’s probably better than E.J. Kuale, and B) This guy sounds like a monster on special teams. Also, don’t forget that we have a 3-4 coach. 5/15 UPDATE: I have removed Courtney Watson from the backups. It's obvious that he's not going to be a Saint much longer, after his failed trade to Miami last week. I don't see anyone to replace him right now, so I dropped the number down to 6. 6/4 UPDATE: The Saints have finally signed two more NFL-caliber linebackers: Tommy Polley and Jay Foreman. I'll move Polley into Fujita's starting spot and put Forman in Iwuchukwu's spot. In addition, James Allen is out for the year, and Alfred Fincher is starting with the first team at middle linebacker. 6/8 UPDATE: Courtney Watson is a Buffalo Bill now, pending approval. No surprise.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (9)
STARTERS (4): Mike McKenzie (CB), Fred Thomas (CB), Josh Bullocks (S), Omar Stoutmire (S)
BACKUPS (5): Jason Craft, Bryan Scott, Roman Harper, Josh Lay, Anwar Phillips
NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Dwight Smith, Jay Bellamy, Steve Gleason, Joey Thomas
COMMENTS: I think 3 of the 4 starters are locks. Based on the activity I’ve seen at safety, I think Payton isn’t interested in keeping veterans like Dwight Smith and Jay Bellamy. Since we drafted Harper, I keep hearing that Smith might be traded anyway. From what I read, undrafted free agent Anwar Phillips was initially projected as a first-day pick. I hope that’s accurate. He sounds like he’s more likely to make the team than Lay, who sounds like a project. But both of them sound better than our other options. 5/15 UPDATE: Fred Booker has already been released. Too bad, because he's an LSU guy. But in reality we can do better.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
PUNTER (1): Mitch Berger or Steve Weatherford
KICKER (1): John Carney
LONG SNAPPER (1): Kevin Houser
NOTABLE OMISSIONS: none
COMMENTS: I like Berger, but Weatherford was supposed to be one of the 2 or 3 best rookie punters available. Berger was initially a lock on my team, but you never know. You have to think Carney, although older and less dependable, is going to beat out undrafted free agent Connor Hughes. I don’t have a problem with Houser either. But this undrafted free agent Bienemann guy is a long snapper too, and an OK tight end prospect. Who knows? 6/4 UPDATE: Bienemann was released right before mini-camp.
FINAL COMMENTS: Somebody double-check my math, but I think I have 53 here. The thing that scares me is that I have all 8 drafted players making the team right now. In addition, I have 2 undrafted free agents (Iwuchukwu and Phillips) on the team, and 4 more (Eugene, Allen, Weatherford and Bienemann) as possibilities if lucky. I guess that’s not unusual when you are a rebuilding team with a new coach—especially when you bring in a “discipline” and “leadership” guy to replace somebody like Haslett. But it just says one thing to me: WE NEED DEPTH, BADLY. AND AN OFFENSIVE LINE. Hopefully we aren’t finished bringing in veterans. 6/4 UPDATE: I have now moved Iwuchukwu off the roster, and Bienemann is gone.
There are causes for optimism. We have Drew Brees and Reggie Bush. That should improve our team by a few games. Maybe playing a full season at home and the acquisition of Bush will build morale. The last time we were this pessimistic about an offseason was the year that Haslett took over from Ditka. And that was the only team that won a playoff game IN THE HISTORY OF THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS.
2006 PREDICTION (5/2/06): 6-10, last in NFC South. Subject to revision if things change.
TAGS: New Orleans Katrina Saints New Orleans Saints NFL Draft Reggie Bush.