New Orleans Saints Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at Quarterback
The New Orleans Saints are in the midst of OTAs, and a breakdown of the team’s quarterback depth chart suggests they're in good hands at the position heading into the 2014 season.
It’s no secret that in the NFL finding the right quarterback is of paramount importance.
Defenses are more complex than ever before, and having a signal-caller who gets the job done under intense pressure is Step 1 to winning a championship.
The Saints are one of the few NFL teams fortunate enough to have enjoyed long-term stability at quarterback. Of course, like everyone else, they’re only an injury away from sending their backup onto the field and into the fire.
The following is a detailed breakdown of the Saints' quarterback depth chart, beginning with starter Drew Brees and featuring the club's latest free-agent acquisition.
1. Drew Brees
For the better part of the Saints' history, a rundown of the team's various starting quarterbacks essentially featured a Who’s Who of minimally talented players who couldn’t come through when it mattered most (with the exception of Archie Manning).
All of that changed in 2006.
When free agent Drew Brees signed with New Orleans, the fortunes of the franchise were instantly altered for the better.
Under the direction of coach Sean Payton, Brees led the Saints to the NFC Championship Game in his first season. Three years later, Brees, Payton and the Saints raised the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champions.
Over the course of his eight seasons in New Orleans, Brees has amassed an ever-growing mountain of NFL passing records. In addition, he’s led the Saints to three division titles and five playoff appearances.
At age 35, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Just last season, he tossed for 5,000-plus yards and 39 touchdowns while leading New Orleans to the divisional round of the playoffs.
It goes without saying that Brees won’t be around forever. Father Time spares no one, and the Saints will have to replace him at some point in the future. Unlike with many teams in the NFL, however, it’s safe to say that starting quarterback will be one of the Saints' strong suits for the next few seasons.
2. Luke McCown
In the blink of an eye, the backup quarterback can be thrust into action.
For the Saints, the No. 2 spot is occupied by Luke McCown, who has more experience under his belt than most NFL backups.
The 32-year-old has nine career starts, the most recent of which was for Jacksonville in 2011. He’s thrown for over 2,000 passing yards and nine touchdowns in his career and also has 177 rushing yards to his credit.
McCown gives the Saints a proven, capable option should Brees happen to go down, and he executed Sean Payton’s offense quite well last preseason.
If Brees suffers an injury and can’t play, it may not be as catastrophic for the Saints as some might think.
3. Ryan Griffin
The No. 3 quarterback on the Saints’ roster is second-year man Ryan Griffin.
After setting numerous passing records at Tulane, the California native went undrafted in 2013. However, he was able to stay in New Orleans when the Saints signed him to a free-agent contract.
His preseason numbers with the Saints in 2013 were respectable, and he demonstrated impressive athleticism with his ability to move out of the pocket and make throws downfield. He completed 32 of his 59 pass attempts for 380 yards with two touchdowns.
The 6’5”, 206-pounder was released just before the 2013 regular season and subsequently placed on the practice squad. But midway through the season, his career received a boost when he was promoted to the 53-man roster.
The chances of beating out McCown for the No. 2 spot are extremely slim, but the fact that the Saints promoted Griffin to the active roster last season suggests that they’re high on him.
He’ll certainly be a player to keep an eye on this coming preseason.
4. Logan Kilgore
Throughout his NFL coaching career, Sean Payton has developed a reputation for finding undrafted free-agent quarterbacks and bringing them into camp.
Payton has both hit and missed on some of these projects, the latest of which is former Middle Tennessee State quarterback Logan Kilgore.
The 24-year-old rookie excelled in the short-to-intermediate passing game in college. A three-year starter, he threw for over 7,800 yards and 53 touchdowns. He demonstrates good timing on his throws and has a nice touch on the ball. His arm strength isn’t going to blow anyone away, but a rocket arm isn't a requisite for success in Payton’s timing-based pass offense.
In all likelihood, Kilgore is the odd man out for an active roster spot this season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t earn a spot on the practice squad.
When all is said and done, Brees and McCown will probably be the only New Orleans Saints quarterbacks who see the field in 2014.
Brees has proven to be quite durable during his time in New Orleans, but if he goes down the Saints will have a capable backup to step in. McCown may not be able to duplicate Brees’ efficiency, but he gives the Saints a viable No. 2 option.
With their sights set on a championship this coming season, it’s highly important for the Saints to have such quality depth at the most important position in football.