Saints' 53-man roster projection includes two undrafted offensive linemen

The New Orleans Saints wrapped up their offseason program on Thursday and open training camp during the week of July 25 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson

Grayson will have to earn this spot by showing some real progress in Year 2. But he will likely stick because the Saints invested a third-round pick in him last year as a long-term developmental project.

RUNNING BACKS (5): Mark Ingram, Tim Hightower, C.J. Spiller, Marcus Murphy, Daniel Lasco

Five running backs is a lot, but Murphy and Lasco both bring added special-teams benefits (Murphy as a returner, Lasco in coverage). Veteran Travaris Cadet could absolutely crack this roster, too, as a runner/receiver/returner. It might come down to Cadet vs. Murphy.

FULLBACK (1): Austin Johnson

Johnson has been on and off the Saints’ roster, depending on when they decide they need a fullback. I decided to keep him instead of a fourth tight end, but that could easily go the other way.

WIDE RECEIVERS (4): Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman

Four is the minimum number here, so someone else could join the list with a strong camp. Perhaps second-year pro R.J. Harris, who has generated a lot of buzz so far this summer during OTAs and minicamp. Coleman will need a strong preseason to secure his roster spot because the Saints drafted a similar type of receiver in Thomas.

TIGHT ENDS (3): Coby Fleener, Josh Hill, Michael Hoomanawanui

These three seem like locks, but I could easily see a promising young backup such as RaShaun Allen, Jack Tabb or Chris Manhertz joining them as well.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8): Terron Armstead, Max Unger, Zach Strief, Andrus Peat, Tim Lelito, Senio Kelemete, Jack Allen, Ryker Mathews

The Saints usually keep at least eight offensive linemen on the roster, which leaves room for two undrafted rookies. I went with Allen because he was a stud center at Michigan State who has spent the summer working with the second string. And I went with Mathews because he’s versatile enough to play guard and tackle and has lined up all summer as the backup left tackle. But it’s way too early to set anything in stone when it comes to the offensive linemen because they haven’t even strapped on the pads yet.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10): Cameron Jordan, Nick Fairley, Sheldon Rankins, John Jenkins, Kasim Edebali, Obum Gwacham, David Onyemata, Bobby Richardson, Tyeler Davison, Davis Tull

Lots of youth here, just like last year. However, the Saints could still throw a wrench into things by adding a veteran defensive end following Hau’oli Kikaha’s season-ending knee injury.

LINEBACKERS (6): James Laurinaitis, Stephone Anthony, Dannell Ellerbe, Craig Robertson, Nate Stupar, Michael Mauti

This group, on the other hand, is loaded with veterans. Newcomers Robertson and Stupar made a strong first impression this summer. They could both be key special-teams assets, along with Mauti.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10): Keenan Lewis, Delvin Breaux, Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd, Roman Harper, Vonn Bell, Damian Swann, P.J. Williams, Erik Harris, Brian Dixon

The Saints will have some of their toughest choices to make here if everyone stays healthy. I left off veterans Kyle Wilson and Tony Carter to get this list down to 10. I went with Harris and Dixon because both could be standout special-teamers. Dixon has been the Saints’ best gunner on kick coverage.

SPECIALISTS (3): Thomas Morstead, Connor Barth, Justin Drescher

It’s a coin toss at kicker right now between Barth and Kai Forbath – neither of whom has been perfect so far this summer. I went with Barth simply because the Saints switch kickers almost every year. He would be their 11th in 11 seasons.