Underhill: Saints projected ‘53’

The evaluation process is still ongoing, but the Saints have put enough on film to take a crack at projecting who the first 53 players will be to make the roster.

The list will continue to mutate over the next two weeks. However, if the Saints had to cut down to 53 men today, these are the guys who would make our roster.

Quarterbacks (2)

Drew Brees

Ryan Griffin

Analysis: Griffin isn’t running away from Luke McCown. He’s keeping pace. That should be good enough to earn him this job. He made a few impressive throws against the Titans, but it’s important to note that he more than a few of his other attempts could have benefited from better ball placement. That’s OK, though. He’s younger, cheaper, and has more upside than McCown.

Running backs (5)

Mark Ingram

Pierre Thomas

Khiry Robinson

Travaris Cadet

Erik Lorig

Analysis: As long as Lorig’s leg injury doesn’t linger too long, this group seems pretty well set. If Lorig is unable to play in the immediate future, then Greg Jones could find his way onto the roster.

Wide receivers (5)

Marques Colston

Kenny Stills

Brandin Cooks

Robert Meachem

Joe Morgan

Analysis: The final receiver spot remains in flux and could go to either Morgan or Nick Toon. Morgan gets the nod for now after making two big receptions against the Titans and proving that his health should not be a concern. It’s tough to side with Toon considering that he was on the field for 29 passing plays against Tennessee and was targeted once for six yards.

Tight ends (3)

Jimmy Graham

Benjamin Watson

Josh Hill

Analysis: Coach Sean Payton gushed when asked about Hill two weeks ago. He might have some work to do in the passing game, but his ability to contribute on special teams gives him the nod over guys like Nic Jacobs.

Offensive line (8)

Zach Strief

Ben Grubbs

Jahri Evans

Jonathan Goodwin

Terron Armstead

Tim Lelito

Bryce Harris

Marcel Jones

Analysis: Senio Kelemete was given 55 snaps to prove his worth against the Titans. He didn’t take advantage. He was the weak point against the run and gave up a few pressures in the passing game. Jones was not a stalwart by any stretch of the imagination, but he performed better than his counterpart.

Defensive line (6)

Cam Jordan

Akiem Hicks

Brodrick Bunkley

John Jenkins

Tyrunn Walker

Glenn Foster

Analysis: Foster and Walker have been too good this preseason to get knocked off the chart by someone like Brandon Deaderick. Rufus Johnson, who did not play against the Titans, is someone who has caught the eye throughout training camp.

Linebacker (10)

Junior Galette

Curtis Lofton

David Hawthorne

Parys Haralson

Kevin Reddick

Khairi Fortt

Ronald Powell

Victor Butler

Kyle Knox

Ramon Humber

Analysis: The Saints haven’t been hurting without Victor Butler, but we do not know the severity of his injury and it seems too soon to give up on him. Someone from this group is going to have to go. Considering Knox has performed well and contributed on special teams, Keyunta Dawson falls off the roster.

Cornerbacks (6)

Keenan Lewis

Patrick Robinson

Corey White

Champ Bailey

Stanley Jean-Baptiste

Trevin Wade

Analysis: An extra cornerback seems necessary considering all the injuries at this position. If some players get healthy then Wade will be the first man off the roster.

Safety (5)

Jairus Byrd

Kenny Vaccaro

Rafael Bush

Vinnie Sunseri

Marcus Ball

Analysis: Sunseri might have solidified his spot with his performance against Tennessee. Undrafted rookie Pierre Warren, who has had a solid camp, also remains a strong option to sneak onto the roster.

Specialists (3)

Shayne Graham

Thomas Morstead

Justin Drescher

Analysis: Derek Dimke might win the kicker battle, but he is yet to run away with it.