New Orleans Saints-53 Man Roster Prediction

August 23, 2022

After a rocky off-season, New Orleans Saints football is back. Now the question is, who will make the final roster? Here’s a look at who I think will make the final 53-man roster.

The New Orleans Saints square off against the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday 27th August (1 am Saturday UK time). This game will go a long way to deciding what the Saints’ final 53-man roster will look like. I decided to predict the roster as it stands before Friday’s 3rd and final Preseason game.

New Orleans Saints Offense

Any players with a * are players whose place on the roster is vulnerable

QB (2)

  • Jameis Winston
  • Andy Dalton

QB Jameis Winston seems to be on road back to health and will serve as the Saints’ starter. Veteran Andy Dalton will play the important backup QB role, ready to step in if Winston misses time. If everything goes according to plan and Winston plays the whole season, Dalton will still provide significant value from the sideline, as the veteran player/coach that the Saints love to have in their backups.

Taysom Hill would still be the 3rd QB up in the rotation if needed, even after his move to the TE room.

Ian Book hasn’t quite shown enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster. If he gets through waivers, I think a place on the practice squad would be beneficial for Book and the Saints. For Book, he can continue his development with an offensive system and staff he knows. For the Saints, it gives them an emergency QB who knows the system to fall back on if disaster strikes.

Player to watch who could make the 53- Ian Book

RB (5)

  • Alvin Kamara
  • Mark Ingram
  • Dwayne Washington
  • Tony Jones JR*
  • Adam Prentice (Fullback)*

It was expected when the Saints started training camp, that Alvin Kamara (who seems to be avoiding suspension, at least for this season) and Mark Ingram would be the Saints main running back tandem. With Training camp coming to an end, nothing has changed. Both Backs have looked great in camp and should provide the Saints a solid 1-2 punch in the running game, hopefully going back to the Boom and Zoom days of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

I really thought I would be putting undrafted free agent Abram Smith in this spot, I figured he would have more upside as a runner and be a standout on special teams. However, an unexpected standout has popped up in Dwayne Washington. He has had a solid offseason; he’s worked to show he can be more than just a special team standout, with a strong preseason start against the Texans and positive plays during training camp. Washington should not be the featured back, but he has shown he could play a role in an RB rotation if Injuries struck.

Tony Jones JR was a camp darling a year ago, so much so that the Saints released Latavius Murray on the eve of the 2021 season. Unfortunately, after a strong start against the Packers in week 1, Jones JR suffered an ankle injury which caused him to struggle and miss time.  Jones has shown a bit more as a runner than others and shown skills on special teams.

Adam Prentice makes the team as the fullback, although I am interested to see If the Saints do carry a FB for the full season or at all. If the Saints do end up running more than 11 personnel (three WRs, one TE, and one RB) has been discussed throughout the offseason, then there would be little to no need to carry a FB.

Player to watch who could make the 53- Abram Smith

WR (6)

  • Michael Thomas
  • Jarvis Landry
  • Chris Olave
  • Deonte Harty
  • Marquez Callaway
  • Tre’Quan Smith*

Early in the offseason, there was significant concern about how Michael Thomas would return after nearly 2 years off. It’s been a pretty perfect training camp for Thomas AKA CantGuardMike. He’s returned to play, with many of the Saints beat writers noting that you wouldn’t be able to tell that he’s coming off an injured ankle that required multiple surgeries.

Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave have been exactly as advertised, not only reliable and consistent second and third-string receivers but playmakers at the position. Deonte Harty has had a very quiet offseason, but he showed last season that he can be a difference maker as a returner and as a receiver. Harty should have an even easier job this season being the team’s fourth /fifth string receiver rather than the number 2 like last season.

It would have been interesting to see if undrafted rookie Rashid Shaheed would have been healthy for all of camp and whether he could have made a push for Harty’s punt returner spot. As it’s been noted throughout the offseason that Harty and the Saints are far apart in contract negotiations.

Despite being the Saints’ number 1 receiver last season, Marquez Callaway’s spot seemed in question earlier in the offseason with rookies Kirk Merritt and Dai’Jean Dixon making consistent plays early in camp. Now it feels like Callaway is safe with the others not quite doing enough in-game action to knock him off the roster.

Tre’Quan Smith on the other hand could be vulnerable. Smith is entering his 5th NFL season and he has frustrated Saints fans and even his own Quarterback throughout his tenure. He’s struggled to stay healthy and make plays on a consistent basis.

Smith has not shown much in preseason action. He has played well enough in camp to earn a spot as the veteran WR with good blocking skills, but this is a spot I could see the Saints going with a younger, cheaper player or only carrying 5 players and calling up from the practice squad if needed.

Player to watch who could make the 53- Kirk Merritt

TE (3)

  • Adam Trautman
  • Taysom Hill
  • Juwan Johnson

In one of the more encouraging rooms this offseason, Adam Trautman has had an excellent offseason. With glowing training camp reports being written about him, highlighting his increased consistency in the passing game. He is expected to pick up most of the blocking responsibilities as the ‘Y’ tight end.

Taysom Hill will continue his jack of all trades role, even though, this is the first offseason he has focused more specifically on one specific position. Dennis Allen mentioned earlier in the offseason that he sees Hill’s role as “more of the kind of a “Move TE type of role” this fits with Hill’s skillset as an all-around playmaker. I’m sure he will get involved in blocking as well, he has shown a willingness and ability in this area previously.

Saints head coach Dennis Allen says Taysom Hill will focus on playing tight end (nfl.com)

Finally, Juwan Johnson who is coming into his second full season as TE after converting from WR last year. Johnson has bulked up from 235 to 250 pounds, specifically to help with the blocking element of the TE position.  He’s made consistent plays throughout training camp, he’s my dark horse to emerge as a star at the position.

With limitations on numbers, I’ve kept 3 TEs in this projection. I could see 4 being kept. The 4th is Nick Vannett. With only 3 being kept, I don’t think he’s done enough to make the team. Lucas Krull did not capitalize on the early OTA hype and if unclaimed will be a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Player to watch who could make the 53- Nick Vannett

Offensive Line (9)

  • James Hurst (T/G)
  • Andrus Peat (G/T)
  • Eric McCoy (C)
  • Cesar Ruiz (G/C)
  • Ryan Ramczyk (T)
  • Trevor Penning (T)
  • Calvin Throckmorton (G)
  • Landon Young (T)
  • Nick Martin (C/G) *

The starting 5 for the offensive line should be James Hurst (LT), Andrus Peat (LG), Eric McCoy (C), Cesar Ruiz (RG), and Ryan Ramczyk (RT). If the reports of Cesar Ruiz’s improved offseason are to be believed, the Saints’ offensive line should be a solid unit. Trevor Penning should be a monster 6th Offensive Lineman, as long as he works on his technique. Penning is unlikely to start early in the season. Penning has flashes that are similar to a former Saints Left Tackle, Terron Armstead. Not saying they are the same player, but they do have resemblances.

Both were drafted out of small college programs, both are freakishly athletic, and both needed time to develop technical skills before becoming the starter. Hopefully, those similarities continue, and Penning becomes an all-pro like Armstead.  

Landon Young has taken positive strides this offseason and should provide solid tackle depth, providing he can return swiftly from the undisclosed injury that is currently keeping him out of camp. Calvin Throckmorton proved to be a dependable backup last season, and that should be no different this year.

The final O-line spot was tough. Rumors are the Saints really like undrafted free-agent Tackle Lewis Kidd and I really want to put him on this projection. However, I felt like there’s more coverage needed on the interior. Despite Kidd playing Guard in college, the Saints have only really played him at Tackle. Hence why I went for vet C/G Nick Martin for the last O-line Spot.

Player to watch, who could make the 53- Lewis Kidd

That brings us to the end of my predication of the Offensive players that will make New Orleans Saints initial 53 Man Roster.

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