Saints 53-Man Roster Preview For 2022

August 25, 2022

With the NFL’s deadline for roster cuts approaching, the Saints will have to trim their roster size down to 53 players by August 30. What does the shape of the roster look like ahead of the team’s deadline?

The New Orleans Saints square off against the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday, August 27. 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 third and final preseason game. Yesterday I predicted the Saints Offense, today I reveal who I think will make the team on Defense and Special Teams.

Predicting The Saints’ Defensive Roster For The 2022 Season

Any players with an * next to them, I would class their spot as vulnerable.

Defensive Line (Nine)

  • Cameron Jordan (DE)
  • Marcus Davenport (DE)
  • Payton Turner (DE)
  • Tanoh Kpassagnon (DE)
  • Carl Granderson (DE)
  • David Onyemata (DT)
  • Shy Tuttle (DT)
  • Malcolm Roach (DT)
  • Kentavious Street (DT)*

If healthy I expect this to be one of the best defensive lines in the league. Staying healthy hasn’t been a problem for franchise legend Cam Jordan who could possibly become the franchise leader in regular season sacks this season (8.5 sacks needed) Cam has only missed one game out of a possible 176 regular season games and that was due to COVID last season.  

The Saints are hoping for better luck with health from the other defensive ends. Marcus Davenport, Payton Turner, and Tanoh Kpassagnon have all missed a lot of games since joining the team. If Davenport can find a way to play the whole season, I think he’s the best D-lineman on the team and will warrant a missive payday in the offseason. With last year’s first-round pick Payton Turner, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Carl Granderson expected to play crucial roles in the pass rush rotation.

Josh Black and Niko Lalos have flashed in training camp; Lalos more with his pass rush and Black as a run defender. Unfortunately, the Saints are too deep at the defensive end position for them to find their way onto the 53-man roster, but the practice squad could certainly be possible.

David Oneymata and Shy Tuttle are expected to be the starting defensive tackles. Both are hoping to make big splashes as they are both in the last year of their contracts. Malcolm Roach has shown flashes of being a plus starter for the Saints over his first two seasons. A light seems to have come on for the third-year defensive end. He was dominant in the joint practices against the Packers and has continued that path ever since.

The biggest question will be can it carry through to regular season play? Due to his excellent offseason, he also seems a near lock to make the team. The final defensive tackle to make the team should be free agent addition Kentavious Street. Street has been solid in the offseason but has not flashed as much as I thought he might, in camp or the preseason. Unfortunately, rookie sixth-round pick Jordan Jackson has not shown a great deal. He may be someone the Saints bring back on the practice squad but that isn’t even a definite.

There is a case for Albert Huggins to make it or the Saints to carry one less defensive tackle to make room for players elsewhere. As they have players that can play snaps inside if needed (Jordan and Kpassagnon).

Player to watch to make the 53- Albert Huggins

Linebacker (Six)

  • Demario Davis
  • Pete Werner
  • Kaden Ellis
  • Eric Wilson
  • Jon Bostic *
  • Andrew Dowell*

This is one of the harder position groups to predict. The base starters, Demario Davis, Pete Werner, and Kaden Ellis are locks. With primary backup Eric Wilson also looking to be a lock after an impressive offseason which included a FF in each of the Preseason games.     

Next is where this becomes anyone’s guess. I’ve gone with one player who is a proven starter in Jon Bostic. He is a stout run defender and proven capable enough against the pass to be a starter in the league. The last spot on the roster goes to special teams standout, Andrew Dowell, who has proven to be a player the Saints staff like. 

I would not be surprised if Zach Baun, Nephi Sewell, or Chase Hansen made over one or both of the bubble players above. Baun is entering has his third season with the Saints. In the limited defensive snaps he has earned so far, Baun has struggled to transition to the linebacker role. He has proven to be a more than solid Special Teams player that, coupled with the staff’s initial vision for him when he was drafted, could be enough to give him one more chance.

Sewell seems to have impressed the Saints the coaching staff and even if he doesn’t make the 53, I expect him to be a priority for the practice squad. Chase Hansen has been on the Saints’ roster bubble every season since they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2019. Unfortunately, after a strong game against the Texans in the first preseason game, Hansen has been injured pretty much ever since.

Player to watch to make the 53- Nephi Sewell

Cornerbacks (Five)

  • Marshon Lattimore
  • Paulson Adebo
  • Bradley Roby
  • Alontae Taylor
  • C.J. Gardner Johnson

I think this is the easiest group to predict on the defense; maybe even on the team! There shouldn’t be any suspires here. Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo should be the starters at the outside corner positions with Lattimore following a murderer’s row of number one receivers this season. This is a huge year for him to prove to everyone outside of WhoDatNation how elite he is.

There may be nobody on the defense that has played better throughout training camp than Paulson Adebo. The second-year corner should provide a solid number two starting corner for the Saints and if he continues his training camp form the Saints will have two elite starting corners.

Veteran Bradley Roby will probably start the season as one of the best backup cornerbacks in the league and will be the primary backup for both the slot and outside corner. Alonatae Taylor was playing well before an undisclosed injury sidelined him. Taylor should have a role on special teams from day one, whilst also providing depth at outside corner and possibly getting some snaps in the Saints’ Dime packages.

Finally, starting Slot corner and the Saints resident hype man C.J. Gardner Johnson. Johnson held out during training camp with the hope of a new contract. That appears to have been put on the back burner for now, leaving him to play out the final year of his contract. With the energy Johnson plays with already and the added fire of wanting a new contract, I’m incredibly excited to watch him play this season.

Player to watch to make the 53- Nobody

Safety (Five)

  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Marcus Maye
  • P.J. Williams
  • J.T. Gray
  • Justin Evans

The unit with the biggest turnover from last year, the Saints are expected to show a lot of versatility with how they deploy their Safety group this season. The starters should be “The Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, both prized free agent additions after Marcus Williams left in free agency and Malcolm Jenkins retired. They both have the ability to play high or in the box. With the way Dennis Allen likes to disguise his coverages, expect them to be moving around a lot in pre and post-snap coverage this season.

“Mr 1-Year Deal” P.J. Williams is in his second full year after a successful move from corner to safety. Williams can provide depth across the defense at FS, SS, and Slot-Corner. He can even play outside cornerback at a push.  He is one of the most valuable depth pieces on the Saints roster and that will continue this year.

Special Teams All-Pro and Captain J.T Gray, makes the team purely for his elite special teams prowess. He is one of the best Gunners in the NFL. Justin Evans has made a remarkable comeback to the NFL after sitting out last season to help heal from various injuries. He looks very likely to make the Saints’ initial 53-man roster as another player who has Free and Strong Safety versatility.

Justin Evans intercepts the Jeff Driskel pass | Saints-Texans Highlights (neworleanssaints.com)

Player to watch to make the 53- Nobody

Saints- Special Teams (Three)

  • Will Lutz (K)
  • Blake Gillikin (P)
  • Zach Wood (LS)

The only question mark here was how Will Lutz would return from injury. That question mark was removed strongly during the Training Camp. It’s been documented by Saints media that they have only seen Lutz miss two kicks. Lutz’s return is massive for this team after the revolving door of inconsistent Kickers the team went through last year.

Blake Gillikin’s offseason is going so well that the NFL thought they would ‘randomly’ check that Gillikin is on any performance enhancing drugs, after Gillikin’s monster 81-yard punt against the Texans. Gillikin should be a significant asset for the Saints this season.

Last but certainly not least, Zach Wood, the incumbent, solid and unsung Long Snapper. He’s going into his sixth season as the Saints’ Long Snapper and all I can say is I very rarely hear his name called during games, which for a Long Snapper I can assure you a compliment.

Player to watch to make the 53- Nobody

This completes my predication of the Saints initial 53-Man Roster prior to them taking on the Chargers in the Preseason Finale on Friday.

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