Saints Rookie Mini-Camp is in the books for 2016 and roster moves have been made to  make room for the most promising of the undrafted free agent rookies and camp invitees. Following the weekend’s work Jake Lampman (WR/Ferris State),  Tony Steward (LB/Buffalo Bills) and Tyrus Thompson (OT/Detroit Lions) were signed and three other players were waived. The revolving door that serves as a roster for most NFL teams in the spring and summer will continue to spit out players as the Saints add individuals waived from other teams, or unsigned free agents.

For the moment, the reconstruction of the Saints roster is at a crawl – so it is time to assess what was gained through the draft, free agent signings and players added following Rookie Camp tryouts.

 

Name School Position HGT WGT
Jack Allen Michigan St C 6’1″ 294
Joe Cheek TX A&M GUARD 6’6 295
Ken Crawley Colorado CB 6′ 187
Trae Elston Mississippi DB 5’11” 195
De Vante Harris TX A&M CB 5’11 176
Marcus Henry Boise St OL 6’2″ 294
Sione Houma Michigan RB 5’11” 243
Dillon Lee Alabama LB 6’3″ 240
TommyLee Lewis N. Illinois WR  5’7” 168
Mitchell Loewen Arkansas DE 6’3 275
Ryker Matthews BYU OL  6’5” 316
DJ Pettway Alabama DL 6’2″ 271
Jeff Schoettmer N. Carolina ILB 6’1 233
Dominique Tovell LA-Lafayette ILB 6’2” 235
Landon Turner N. Carolina OL 6’4″ 330
Jordan Lambert-Williams Ball State WR 6’3″ 228
Avery Young Auburn T 6’5″ 328
Daniel Lasco Cal RB 6′ 209
Vonn Bell Ohio State S  5’11” 199
David Onyemata Canada DL  6’3” 300
Sheldon Rankins Louisville DL 6’1″ 299
Michael Thomas Ohio State WR 6’3″ 212

 

The five draft choices are listed at the bottom and other than Daniel Lasco (7th Rd) they all have an above average chance to stick. Onyemata has only played football four years, in Canada at that, and is a known project that will play limited minutes. The other three should contribute significantly in their first season. Lasco is something of a one year wonder so the book is still out on him.

As for the free agent rookies that remain, most face an uphill battle for playing time or even a roster spot. The Saints have 8 running backs and 11 wide-receivers on their roster so it will be tough to find a spot for anyone besides Michael Thomas. TommyLee Lewis out of Northern Illinois is a dangerous return man and plays the slot position. He might stick with his special teams play and to add receiver depth.  Jordan Lambert-Williams may also make the cut due to his height and speed.

On the offensive line a couple of prospects look to hang around. Jack Allen, a center from Michigan State, is the only backup center at the moment and had a high combine grade. Avery Young, out of Auburn, was projected to go in the 4th round by some scouts and is a big man with decent footwork. Since the offensive line has had issues over the past couple of years, as well as injuries, these two might be good fits.

 

Defensively, the Saints need upgrades across the board. With Rankins and Onyemata essentially guaranteed a roster spot there are only a few spots up for grabs.  Jeff Schoettmer and Dominique Tovell are linebackers with good size and speed and could add depth that is needed. Dillon Lee and D.J. Pettway, both from Alabama, were by-passed in the draft. Playing with a chip on your shoulder can sometimes improve work habits which were questionable in college. That may help Pettway make the squad. Lee lacks eye-popping athleticism but played in a high-caliber program that may give him a competitive edge.

Beyond that, injury and luck are sometimes the deciding factors in who makes the final 53 man roster and the 10 player developmental squad. OTA’s are getting underway and before you know it, one of these players may be making a “Top Ten” play on Sportscenter!

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