Where Saints roster stands: Defense/special teams

An unofficial projection of where the New Orleans Saints' depth chart stands after their additions, subtractions and re-signings during the past month. Click here for a look at the Saints' offensive depth chart.


DE -- Akiem Hicks, Glenn Foster

DE -- Cameron Jordan, Foster

NT -- Brodrick Bunkley, John Jenkins, Lawrence Virgil

OLB -- Junior Galette, Kasim Edebali

OLB -- Parys Haralson, Ronald Powell

ILB -- David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber

ILB -- Dannell Ellerbe, Kyle Knox, Jerry Franklin

CB -- Keenan Lewis, Terrence Frederick, Delvin Breaux

CB -- Brandon Browner, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Brian Dixon

SS -- Kenny Vaccaro, Jamarca Sanford, Vinnie Sunseri, Marcus Ball

FS -- Jairus Byrd, Rafael Bush, Pierre Warren, Kenny Phillips, Ty Zimmerman


P -- Thomas Morstead

K -- Shayne Graham, Dustin Hopkins

LS -- Justin Drescher

H -- Luke McCown

PR -- Brandin Cooks, Jalen Saunders

KR -- Jalen Saunders

Thoughts: The first two things that jump out are how loaded the Saints are at safety and how thin they are at defensive end.

Safety is the one position the Saints can probably ignore in the draft (unless they fall in love with a specific prospect). They loaded up on safeties last year because of injuries, and now they’ve got one of those “good problems.” The battle for backup jobs will be interesting in camp.

Every other position is fair game in the draft.

Coach Sean Payton said last week that the Saints need to draft at least one or two outside linebacker/defensive end pass-rush types. A second edge rusher to complement Galette might rank as New Orleans' No. 1 need overall -- especially with those early draft picks since it's hard to find dynamic pass-rushers late in the draft or in free agency.

Defensive end stands out as the thinnest position in terms of total bodies on the roster (regardless of whether you put the Saints in a 3-4 front or a 4-3 front). Starters Jordan and Hicks are excellent. But they’ll need more young backups to supplement Foster.

The Saints also need to get younger at inside linebacker behind veterans Ellerbe, Hawthorne, Haralson and Humber.

The Saints do have several young candidates for the nickel cornerback job -- but no proven ones. So an early draft pick or even a cheap free-agent addition might be a consideration.

As for special teams, the only position I’d expect the Saints to possibly target in the draft is a kickoff returner -- though Saunders showed some nice potential when he joined the Saints in the middle of last season.