With OTA’s ongoing, for NFL fans everywhere, it can feel like the beginning of the NFL season is eons away. This kind of feeling can create a lull in interesting articles and conversations about the sport. Fear not, however, as Last Word on Saints will be breaking down the New Orleans Saints roster position by position. The first installment features an in-depth breakdown of the quarterback position.
The Quarterback Depth Chart: New Orleans Saints Roster Breakdown
The Position Race
The Saints have an interesting situation to deal with at the QB position. Supplemented by the last free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft, an income of depth and talent over the last few years has led to the Saints having arguably one of their deepest rosters in recent memory. Obviously, this is a problem the Saints coaching staff and front office love to have. It also leads to them having to make many decisions coming when roster cuts come calling.
Let’s break down the current Saints depth chart at the QB position, piece by piece.
The Obvious Frontrunner: Drew Brees
No New Orleans Saints team feels quite right without the mention of their captain, and legitimate on-field general, Drew Brees. Last season, the Saints all-time passing leader led the team to the divisional championship. According to Pro Football Reference, Brees threw for the highest completion percentage of his career at 72%, while racking up 4,334 yards with 23 touchdowns. Though the total stats may look to be a bit lower than we are used to seeing with Brees, it must be mentioned that Brees shared the offense with running backs, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.
Brees is, without a doubt, the starting quarterback for the Saints team that recently bolstered its receiving core with the additions of Tre’Quan Smith and Cameron Meredith, and his offensive abilities don’t yield any signs of slowing down just yet.
After Brees, is where the quarterback spots on the roster get more interesting.
The Rookie: J.T. Barrett IV
Back in May, the New Orleans Saints acquired the services of J.T. Barret, a quarterback fresh out of Ohio State University, on an Undrafted Free Agent contract. Barrett ran the show at Ohio State under center in his time there. Despite going undrafted, Barrett previously led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles and a National Championship in his four years with the program. Additionally, Barrett was the school’s only three-time captain.
Barret finished top-10 in the Heisman voting twice, coming in fifth in 2014.. After a season-ending ankle injury, the 2014 Buckeyes went on to win the national championship. Barret completed 769 of 1,211 passes (63.5 percent) for 9,434 yards and 104 touchdowns with 30 interceptions. He added 3,263 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns on 656 attempts, averaging 5 yards per carry.
Some scouts question his accuracy, but most point to Barrett’s leadership abilities, and his plus mobility and arm strength as signs he deserved a spot on the team. He’s facing an uphill battle, but Barrett could win a roster spot behind Brees.
The Seasoned Backup: Tom Savage
After the departure of veteran backup Chase Daniel, the Saints went out in free agency and knabbed a backup quarterback with some experience in Tom Savage after the former Houston Texans starter hit the market.
Savage is expected to bring to the Saints a competent and experienced playmaker in the case that Drew Brees goes down. He’s a 27-year-old who started nine games in four years for the Texans, before losing out on the starting job to rookie Deshaun Watson in 2017. He has amassed exactly 2,000 yards in his career, with a 72.5 career passer rating.
The 6’4” quarterback is very much a pocket-passer quarterback, with solid arm strength and accuracy. Savage does, however, come with a concussion history. The former fourth-round pick will look to earn a spot on the roster and prove that he is the rightful backup to Drew Brees for the year after signing a 1-year, $1.5 million contract with the organization.
The Fan-Favorite Upstart: Taysom Hill
In a team filled with young potential, one of the most interesting players on the team comes in the form of 27-year-old Taysom Hill, a player who originally signed a UDFA contract with the Green Bay Packers, but failed to make the roster. Hill failed to make the roster despite having an impressive preseason with the Packers, and the Saints were quick to snatch him up when he was cut when the Pack took their roster down to 53 players in September.
Hill started last year playing on special teams for the Saints, performing incredibly well in kick coverage. Hill’s athleticism and skill set as a big, athletic guy at 6’2”, 221-pounds is impressive. He’s possibly being the best squat-lifter on the team, and recorded a ridiculous 4.44 seconds 40-yard dash time.
In college at BYU, Hill ran for 2,815 yards and 32 touchdowns, to go with his 6,929 passing yards and 42 touchdown passes. Hill has a lot of traits that can help him be successful in a current NFL built on speed and athleticism, and as a dual-threat quarterback, he presents a different sort of threat than Drew Brees does to an NFL defense.
Though Hill is a quarterback, he could see a lot of time on special teams. Needless to say, this special teams work will only increase his value to the Saints. That being said, he will be battling for the backup role as the Saints move into their season and the roster cuts start.
Last Word on Quarterbacks
This is arguably the most competitive quarterback race that the Saints have had in quite some time. Brees will have to get used to not having established veterans behind him like Chase Daniel and Luke McCown in the backup role, and will instead lead a quarterback group that features three newcomers. Most likely, quarterback Drew Brees, Tom Savage, and Taysom Hill will make it to the Week One roster.
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