Saints roster breakdown: Defensive line

A position-by-position look at the New Orleans Saints' 90-man roster heading into the start of training camp. Players report on Thursday and will hold their first practice Friday at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.

Current depth chart:

Defensive end: Cameron Jordan, Akiem Hicks, Glenn Foster, Tyrunn Walker, Rufus Johnson Jr., Lawrence Virgil, George Uko

Nose tackle: Brodrick Bunkley, John Jenkins, Brandon Deaderick, Tyrone Ezell

Gone from last year: DE Tom Johnson, DE Kenyon Coleman

Key roster battles: The top six players on the line are all safe bets to stay on the roster (veteran starters Jordan, Hicks and Bunkley and young backups Jenkins, Foster and Walker). But after that, there’s still room for one or two players to make the cut.

Johnson Jr. is the most intriguing guy on the list. The Saints drafted him as a raw pass-rush specialist in the sixth round out of Tarleton State in 2013. And now they’re cross-training him as a 3-4 end after he spent most of last season on the practice squad as an outside linebacker. If Johnson can deliver on his great athletic potential, the Saints will find a spot for him.

Meanwhile, Deaderick is an experienced veteran who also has versatility in his favor. He can play end or tackle, and he has been lining up at nose tackle while Jenkins has been out with a pectoral injury this summer.

Don’t count out Virgil, Uko or Ezell, though. The Saints have kept undrafted rookies on the line in each of the past two years.