At this point, it is an expectation for Saints fans that we will be making the playoffs. With both a potentially easier schedule than last year as well as what should be a much improved overall team it’s an expectation that is warranted. I have already gone as far as to predict a Super Bowl win, and I am certainly not alone with that expectation. Even Drew Brees has publicly acknowledged that this is a ‘Super Bowl or bust’ type team (he didn’t go full Falcons and go with that cliché thank God). With the Graham ruling expected to come out on Thursday I expect Friday to be a virtual explosion of Saints news regardless of the particulars of the ruling. That said, considering there is literally nothing to report on right now I reached out to twitter searching for some article ideas. I will respond to those below as well as an idea of my own.
Lucky for me our own Andrew Juge came through with a couple of ideas: a piece on Andy Tanners chances to make the team, and a look ahead at what next year’s potential draft needs are. I will address both of those issues as well as my own personal predictions for the winners of each division in the NFL this year.
Andy Tanner’s Chances: I like Andy Tanner because he is the perfect example of how hard work and relentless tenacity can get you so close to your dreams. However, unfortunately, I think that the dream for Andy is going to end this year. It’s not that he isn’t a good pro or that his work ethic is lacking, but unless Seantavious Jones or Brandon Coleman completely implode during training camp and the offseason I would see both of them being on the practice squad over Tanner. Andy briefly made the team last year and there is never a question about his consistency or his effort, but last year’s team wasn’t nearly as talented at his position. We really only added Cooks as a top flight talent, but that moves everyone other than Stills and Colston back on the depth chart. I don’t see Tanner beating out Toon unless he suffers a significant injury which puts us at 4 wideouts. Sean Payton will carry five or maybe six guys at most. Both Jones and Coleman have a shot just on potential (although both simply scream practice squad as of right now) and Joe Morgan and Robert Meachem have already made the team and fit the team’s needs and system more than Tanner does. At the bottom of your depth chart what you want are specialists who bring a lot of value in specific situations and both Meachem and Morgan do that. If Sean keeps 6 they should both be in provided Morgan is healthy. If it’s 5 and he is healthy I could definitely see him beating out Meachem, but Meach is such a good blocker you never know.
2015 Draft Needs: It is rarely the case, but as of now I will be working with the assumption that all of our draft picks work out. That means Cooks gives people nightmares, Jean-Baptiste becomes a strong number 2 or at least shows flashes, Fortt finally stays healthy and gives us a rotational linebacker with some actual coverage ability, Sunseri becomes a special teams ace, and Powell gets a couple sacks in rotation duty and shows potential for more. That is asking a lot! It’s all plausible, but would certainly be rare for the Sean Payton era to have such a great top to bottom draft. Assuming that it does happen though there are two positions I see as a serious need for this team: O-Line depth at both tackle and guard, and linebackers. Even if Fortt and Powell live up to their potential the Saints are going to need an athletic and fast linebacker who can make plays in order for this defense to be complete. That is the one component that we truly lack and it should be a focus for us in next year’s draft (potentially also a rush OLB depending on how things work out/who is there). Other than those two areas, barring a major injury the Saints are sitting very pretty right now.
-NFC North: Green Bay Packers
-NFC East: Washington Redskins
-NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
– NFC South: New Orleans Saints
-AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals
– AFC East: New York Jets
-AFC West: Denver Broncos
– AFC South: Houston Texans
I will go into detail why I chose each of the teams to win their divisions as well as my predictions for the wild card teams in each conference in my next post in a few days.