AFC West: DEN | KAN | OAK | SDG
NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA
For the Saints, most of the new acquisitions came in March and April, since the team only had one noticeable draft choice.
Mike Karney was replaced by Heath Evans. Darnell Dinkins and Darrell Sharper both signed one year contracts. The team also added Pierson Prioleau, Jabari Greer, and Paul Spicer.
Some of these new acquisitions will get early work as the Saints have to weather the first four games without the suspended Will Smith, Charles Grant, and Garrett Hartley.
With the teams' second round pick in New York from the Shockey trade and the third rounder in Detroit from the Vilma trade, the Saints had to make their first rounder stick.
They found Malcolm Jenkins, likely the most NFL ready corner in the draft. Later they added more depth to the defense by selecting a couple of Demon Deacons, safety Chip Vaughn and linebacker Stanley Arnoux.
Three Burning Questions
Will the Saints survive losing the suspended defensive end duo?
Charles Grant and Will Smith were linked in the same story that included the Vikings' pair of Williams'. Unlike the Minnesota players, who were able to have their suspensions lifted in court, the Saints will have to play without their bookends to start the season.
The Saints should be fine for that short an amount of time though, as Spicer and Bobby McCray will step in and start for those games, and then become two of the league's better backups starting in week five.
The offenses the Saints face early in the season?
Well, there's Detroit, who can certainly air it out if the quarterback isn't getting pressured as much, followed by the Terrell Owens fueled Bills, a potent Eagles offense and a less than potent Jets offense. The Saints should hope for a split from those four games.
Will the defense be improved as a whole?
Sure, the offense is nearly record setting, but the defense has lagged behind. And the Saints did add Spicer, and Sharper, and Jenkins and others to the mix.
But the biggest offseason addition for the defense? New coordinator and the mastermind behind the very good Redskins defenses of late, Gregg Williams.
The team has a good young secondary that includes Jenkins and second year man Tracy Porter, as well as the acquired Greer. They should blitz more this year, and Vilma should return to being a tackling machine.
The defense may still be missing a few pieces, but they have to be considered improved.
Can the offense be even better this year?
There are several reasons why the Saints may be optimistic enough to answer this with yes.
Shockey has emerged this training camp, and a legit threat at tight end would be absolute terror on defenses who already have to follow every step of Marquez Colston, Devery Henderson, and Lance Moore.
Oh, by the way, Robert Meachem is emerging this year as a fourth receiving threat, and that's still not counting Reggie Bush. Pierre Thomas should be comfortable in his role as the starter this year, and the Saints even improved at the fullback spot with the Evans signing.
The one drawback? No Jammal Brown for about a month.
Good Plays: Drew Brees is likely the first or second quarterback off the board. The rest of the squad will be hurt a little because the ball gets distributed so much, a player could end with seven catches and 140 yards one week, and not be seen the next. Nonetheless, Colston, Thomas, Shockey and Moore should make it onto every team.
Avoid: Well, the defense is better, but not one I would spend a pick on. Reggie Bush may become the forgotten man with all the weapons in the receiving game.
Sleeper: The sleeper could be Meachem. He's been playing very well, which he has any time he hasn't been injured. In this offense, even as the third or fourth receiver, he could eclipse 700 yards.
For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.
This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.
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