After Further Review: Early 53-man roster projection

This is the earliest I've ever done one of these 53-man roster projections. We still have an entire preseason to play and there is always someone who doesn't practice well but turns it on when the lights come on. On the flip side, there's always someone who dazzles in practice then is nowhere to be found when it counts.

With that in mind, here is my first 53-man roster projection:

Quarterbacks (2)

Drew Brees

Ryan Griffin

I can only go by what my eyes tell me. And right now they tell me RG4 is winning the backup quarterback battle. Griffin has looked comfortable, decisive and accurate in practice and translated to that the live scrimmage. McCown has looked hesitant and inaccurate at times. Preseason games will be the ultimate decider but right now I'm going with the youngster.

Wide Receiver (6)

Marques Colston

Kenny Stills

Brandin Cooks

Nick Toon

Robert Meachem

Joe Morgan

By far the toughest group to measure at this stage of camp. The top four are locks, Toon has had far too good of a camp to be on any bubble.

It's against my better judgement that I have Meachem and Morgan on this roster. Ultimately, the Saints know what they have in Meachem and Morgan. The problem is, Morgan doesn't look 100% and Meachem hasn't really flashed anything special. I could make a case that Seantavious Jones, Brandon Coleman and Andy Tanner have had better camps than either of them. I'll likely change my mind several times but right now, I'm somewhat reluctantly going with these six.

Running Back (4)

Pierre Thomas

Travaris Cadet

Mark Ingram

Khiry Robinson

This group as a whole looks more confident this season compared to others. Each one has a different characteristic but all can catch the ball out of the backfield. There is a clear cut distance between the fourth and fifth best running back in camp. Right now, Derrick Strozier looks like a practice squad candidate.

Fullback (1)

Erik Lorig.

Don't sleep on this competition, Austin Johnson has had a good camp but as of now, Lorig gets the roster spot.

Offensive Tackle (3)

Zach Strief

Terron Armstead

Bryce Harris

Armstead is having a phenomenal camp, Strief is as steady as ever and Harris provides versatility at both right and left tackle.

Offensive Guard (3)

Jahri Evans

Ben Grubbs

Senio Kelemete

Kelemete has gotten the majority of the first team reps with Grubbs out. He's also played some center as well. That versatility gets him on the roster.

Center (2)

Tim Lelito

Jonathan Goodwin

Both are listed as the #1 center. We won't know who the starter is for a while. But we do know that both Goodwin and Lelito will be on the roster.

Tight End (3)

Jimmy Graham

Ben Watson

Josh Hill

After watching Je'ron Hamm in the offseason, I thought this would be an interesting position group. But thus far, Hamm has been quiet. So as of now, the tight end room will look exactly the same as it did a year ago.

Defensive Line (6)

Cam Jordan

Akiem Hicks

Broderick Bunkley

Tyrunn Walker

John Jenkins

Brandon Deaderick

The only real surprise here is Deaderick, but he's had a nice camp thus far. I put him ahead of Glenn Foster but remember last preseason, Foster stepped up and earned a roster spot. All others are back to anchor what is one of the team's strongest units.

Outside Linebacker (5)

Junior Galette

Keyunta Dawson

Victor Butler

Khairi Fortt

Parys Haralson

Dawson has had a good camp and Forrt was selected as an inside linebacker but is listed as an outside on the depth chart. That ability to play inside and outside narrowly gets him on the roster. Butler missed practice Monday and has had a fairly quiet camp thus far, but for now, he is on.

Inside Linebacker (5)

Curtis Lofton

David Hawthorne

Kevin Reddick

Kyle Knox

Ramon Humber

Knox has been very active in both the run and pass, while Reddick and Humber remain special teams warriors. Lofton and Hawthorne are still the leaders in the middle of the defense.

Cornerback (5)

Patrick Robinson

Keenan Lewis

Corey White

Champ Bailey

Stanley Jean-Baptiste

Though Bailey is listed as the number one cornerback, I think Patrick Robinson is having a better camp. Both should be on the roster, provided Bailey is only injured for a short period of time. White is versatile as a nickel and safety. Plus, they love the potential of Jean-Baptiste.

Safety (5)

Kenny Vaccaro

Jairus Byrd

Rafael Bush

Vinnie Sunseri

Marcus Ball

I almost went six here but am sticking with five. Rob Ryan loves his safeties and this group looks deep this year. Vaccaro, Bush and Byrd will be on the field a lot during the season. Sunseri and Ball have done well with the second unit will provide and play a heavy role in special teams early on. With a good preseason, undrafted rookie Pierre Warren is someone that could earn his way onto the roster. For now, I'm sticking with these five.

Specialists (3)

Thomas Morstead- P

Shayne Graham-K

Justin Drescher- LS

Morstead and Drescher are locks. Graham is in a competition for the kicker job with Derek Dimke. And while Dimke does have a powerful leg, I think Graham is in the lead at stage of camp. Graham helped his cause by nailing a 51 and 53-yarder Monday. He had missed two earlier in camp.