The New Orleans Saints, like the other 31 NFL teams, got down to the league limit of 53 players on Saturday.

While the 53-man roster is still fluid and changes will be made, one thing is for certain and that is coach Sean Payton is not afraid to shake up his roster to give himself the best chance to win.

As of press time, four of the five draft choices from the 2019 draft, offensive center Eric McCoy, safeties Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Saquan Hampton and outside linebacker Kaden Elliss made the original 53 man squad.

Three undrafted college free agents -- return man/wide receiver Deonte Harris, defensive lineman Shy Tuttle and offensive guard/tackle Ethan Greenidge -- also made the original Saints 53-man squad.

And the Saints added seven veteran free agents in the offseason in defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, tight end Jared Cook, offensive center/guard Nick Easton, defensive end/tackle Mario Edwards Jr., defensive end Wes Horton, running back Latavius Murray and offensive guard/tackle Patrick Omameh, who also made the 53-man squad.

Since the 2018 season ended in January for the Saints the team has added 14 new faces to the 53-man squad.

Again, not all the moves for the team have been made and changes will occur before the season-opener, but unlike some fans who just want to keep the players they had on the 2018 team Payton knows in the NFL either you are getting better or falling back.

There is no staying the same in the commuter world of the NFL.

A longtime NFL pro scout told me Thursday night at the Saints-Dolphins preseason game that he was very impressed with the rebuilding of the New Orleans Saints under Payton, executive Vice-President/general manager Mickey Loomis and Jeff Ireland, the Saints assistant general manager/director of college scouting.

“Look over the past four seasons and Sean (Payton) and the entire organization have done a good job of rebuilding this team,” the longtime scout said. “There were some bad decisions after a good run from his original group of players and some patience by management to stay with Payton with those (7-9 overall) years, but it has paid off. They have made some good decisions personnel wise and they have a host of good young players, especially with four years and less in the league to anchor this team along with Drew (Brees). That is the key. I agree with you that they will need to add that eventual successor to Brees real soon to the lineup and most likely he is in the college ranks, but this is a really good young team sprinkled with a few older players.”

The Saints have 24 players, not including the current seven 2019 rookies who made the squad, that are on the current 53-man squad that have four years or less in the league, and a good crop of core players in offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, wide receiver Michael Thomas, safety Vonn Bell, running back Alvin Kamara, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, kicker Wil Lutz and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who fall into that category.  

“What I want to watch closely is the development of two defensive players in defensive end Marcus Davenport and cornerback Eli Apple for the Saints and who they stash away on the developmental squad,” the NFL scout said. “They went to camp with a good group of potential wide receivers who can play somewhere and you can’t keep them all and how that squares out after the cuts. Most, if any will not make the 53-man squad, but I like the potential of guys like Emmanuel Butler, Simmie Cobbs, Jr., Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and even the LSU track guy in Cyril Grayson Jr. They need a veteran offensive lineman to add to the mix, but in comparison to most other teams in this league they have a lot of good young talent and players that have shown they can play big in this league.”

JENKINS HIGH ON LSU DEFENSE

This summer at the Louisiana Line Camp at Nicholls State University, longtime defensive line coach Pete Jenkins told me this about the 2019 version of the LSU defense:

“Get a pencil and paper and write down the 11 starters on defense for the Tigers when they play Georgia Southern," Jenkins said. "All 11 starters on defense will play pro football one day. Alabama might be able to say that and maybe Clemson, but that’s about the size of the list in college football today. LSU is loaded on defense.”

Well, the college football season started for the Tigers and here are the 11 starters on defense for the Tigers to start the season

Defensive Ends: Glen Logan and Rashard Lawrence

Nose Guard: Tyler Shelvin

Outside Linebackers: K’Lavon Chaisson and Ray Thornton

Inside Linebackers: Michael Divinity Jr. and Jacob Phillips

Cornerbacks: Kristian Fulton and Derek Stingley, Jr.

Safeties: Grant Delpit and JaCoby Stevens

MCLAIN NAMES HIS BEST 

Monday Night on "The Second Guess Show" on WWL-Radio I asked John McClain, who has covered the NFL for the past 42 years, who were the best players he has seen in the league over the past 50 years.

McClain, who has covered the NFL, Houston Oilers and Houston Texans for over four decades gave a real quick response.

“First of all I didn’t cover Jim Brown when he played with the Cleveland Browns and he retired after the 1965 season, but he is arguable the greatest player ever in the NFL,” McClain said. “Jerry Rice was a phenomenal player with the San Francisco 49ers and really raised the gold standard for wide receiver play. On defense Reggie White with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers and Lawrence Taylor with the New York Giants. Reggie White just dominated virtually everyone he played against and Lawrence Taylor redefined the pass rush outside linebacker position in the league. Those four to me stick out as the greatest players in my lifetime.”

NFL analyst Mike Detillier is based in Raceland.