We're going to be blunt: the 2020 New Orleans Saints are stacked! The team was already a powerhouse last season, and they only got better by bringing in the likes of receiver Emmanuel Sanders and safety Malcolm Jenkins at the start of the new league year. Even though the Saints boast a complete roster, there are some positions that need to be addressed during training camp.
Here are three position battles to pay attention to in the coming weeks.
Even though the Saints have one of the better linebackers in the league in Demario Davis, that doesn't mean the rest of the corps is settled. Kiko Alonso is listed as the team's starting middle linebacker, but he suffered a torn ACL in the NFC Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Vikings this past January. Alex Anzalone is the other starting outside linebacker, but is coming off an injury-shortened campaign and he's a liability in coverage (27 completions for 257 yards on 35 targets the past two seasons). Luckily for the Saints, they secured a borderline first-round prospect in linebacker Zack Baun in Round 3 of this year's draft. If the rookie has a strong camp, he can easily earn the starting spot opposite Davis. As for middle linebacker, it will likely be Craig Robertson and undrafted free agent Joe Bachie competing for Alonso's spot.
Who on Earth is going to pair opposite stud Marshon Lattimore in 2020? That question could be answered this summer. The team wisely opted to move on from Eli Apple, who was New Orleans' No. 2 corner throughout last season. But the position wasn't addressed this offseason. ESPN currently lists Janoris Jenkins as the starting left corner on their depth chart, which is far from ideal. During his time with both the Saints and New York Giants last season, Jenkins surrendered 49 receptions for 572 yards and six touchdowns on 88 targets. Behind Jenkins is PJ Williams, who fared even worse in coverage (42 completions, 523 yards and five touchdowns on 64 targets). Could a rising star emerge in Deatrick Nichols or Tino Ellis to earn the starting role? Will the Saints front office take a shot at one of the corners remaining in free agency? Either way, you need to watch the cornerback battle, mostly to see if the corps behind Lattimore can improve.
1. Backup Quarterback
Last year, the Saints learned how vital it was to carry a good backup quarterback on the roster. Once Drew Brees went down with a broken thumb in Week 2, Teddy Bridgewater stepped in and helped lead New Orleans to five wins in as many starts. This league year, the Saints went down the same path by adding former rival quarterback Jameis Winston. It's obvious that signal callers thrive in Sean Payton's offensive system. Considering Winston threw for over 5,000 yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last campaign, it's easy to envision him succeeding, heaven forbid Brees were to get injured again. However, he could have some competition in Payton's favorite player of all time: Taysom Hill. The hype around the do-it-all quarterback can be nauseating at times, but the Saints have full faith in him potentially becoming Brees' successor, as evidenced by his $16.3 million contract through the 2021 season. This tussle will be the most talked about throughout the summer. Can the former Saints rival secure the backup role? Or will Hill thwart his plans?