Friday, June 25, 2010

Saints Nation: Starting Lineup by Position (Defense)

As the season approaches, I'm taking a look going into training camp at the Saints position by position. Below are our defensive starters.

LE: Charles Grant is gone. Bobby McCray is gone. That leaves it pretty clear that Alex Brown will be the main man in charge on the left end position as a new starter in the lineup. Jimmy Wilkerson, Anthony Hargrove and Jeff Charleston will both rotate in, but the job is Brown's.

RE: Will Smith is coming of his best season as a pro last year. Clearly Gregg Williams' scheme has helped him blossom, as well as a full season of health, and he'll continue to get the lion share of reps because he's an elite end regardless of down and distance. There's no scenario where he's not the best defensive end on the team's roster.

DT: Sedrick Ellis had this starting spot on lockdown and that's not going to change anytime soon.

DT: Remi Ayodele is the incumbent starter, but I would say his starting spot is in more jeopardy than pretty much any starter the roster. That's not to say he's not a promising up and coming young player, but Hargrove, DeMario Pressley and Al Woods will all push for playing time.

WLB: Every year the Saints bring in some veteran to compete with incumbent starter Scott Shanle, and every year he remains the starter. Whether you love him or think he's replaceable, the bottom line is Shanle is one of the more dependable guys in the league. The coaching staff loves him because there are no unknowns with Shanle. I think the Saints are very lucky to have him.

MLB: Jonathan Vilma. He's the captain, and this will not change. Gregg Williams relies on Vilma as much as anyone to carry out his scheme and direct his troops.

SLB: Right now the job is Jo-Lonn Dunbar's to lose, who will replace recently departed Scott Fujita. Dunbar is young and somewhat unproven, though, so he'll face some stiff competition from veteran Clint Ingram and promising youngster Stanley Arnoux. It's entirely possible that Ingram ends up as the opening day starter. Arnoux has a little more to prove at this point.

CB: Tracy Porter has become in a very short period of time one of the best young corners in the entire league. His name recognition around the country has risen significantly with his pick six in the SuperBowl, but if you're a Saints fan you know his worth in so much more than that one play he made.

CB: The Saints are fairly deep at corner and have good competition going on for different spots in the rotation. The starting spots, though, are entirely set. Jabari Greer (pictured) is the other corner, and he's arguably a better man to man defender than Porter. The Saints have the best cornerback tandem in team history. Still, consider the promising players behind them: Randall Gay, Malcolm Jenkins (who will play some safety), rookie Patrick Robinson, and Leigh Torrence.

FS: I mentioned Jenkins who is being moved to safety and being groomed as the eventual free safety of the future for the Saints. That said, the job currently belongs to Darren Sharper, and he hardly needs an introduction.

SS: Roman Harper is a hard hitting, young up and coming player. It'll be interesting to see if Chip Vaughn can give him some competition, but it's hard to see Harper losing his spot.