The New Orleans Saints might have decent depth at cornerback.
They also might be dangerously thin at the position.
That issue is one the team needs to sort through before the draft to determine if there is a need for an influx of talent and depth or if things are set here.
On paper, if everyone is healthy, this group might be a strength of the roster. Delvin Breaux is on the cusp of entering the top tier of corners and could barge his way in if he continues his ascension.
Keenan Lewis remains one of the better corners in the league, and Damian Swann looks like an up-and-coming player. Throw in last year’s third-round pick, P.J. Williams, who missed his rookie season with an injury, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the potential here.
There are also plenty of reasons for concern. Lewis had multiple procedures performed on his hip over the last year; Swann suffered three concussions last year, and Williams hasn’t played. If a couple of those situations side against the Saints, then the depth disappears, and there will be a major need at this position, even with the likes of Kyle Wilson and Brian Dixon on the roster.
Lewis is the biggest X-factor of the group. It’s concerning whenever a cornerback has a hip injury since the ability to turn with receivers is paramount to success. So, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll come back as the same player. But there does not seem to be any reason to doubt him at this early juncture.
By all accounts, his rehabilitation has gone well, and the team expects him to come back and be the same player he was before he was slowed last season.
That’s great news for a defense in desperate need of some. After years of struggling to field a competitive duo at cornerback, as well as the failure of Brandon Browner last year, it seemed like New Orleans was destined to forever field a porous secondary.
On paper, with Breaux and Lewis in the fold, the Saints could field one of the better cornerback pairings in the NFC. And if the rest of the “ifs” go in New Orleans’ favor, the secondary as a whole could be really good.
But there are a lot of “ifs.” It’s hard not to be concerned about Swann after he suffered concussions the last three times he was on the field. Can he come back and be the same player?
And what about Williams? He was projected to be selected in the first or second round of the draft before a DUI arrest dropped him to the third round. He looked like one of the better values of last year’s draft class, but it remains to be seen if his potential will lead to results.
Should the Saints rest on that potential? They know better than us what to expect from this group and where they are physically. But as we’ve seen the last two seasons, injuries in the secondary occur frequently.
Even if the team feels good about the players at the top and their ability to bounce back and remain healthy, there could be some wisdom in adding another player or two to this position. It’d just be smart business.
It would be a stretch to say this is the first time there has been optimism about the future of the cornerback position in New Orleans. These feelings existed last offseason after the addition of Browner, and things didn’t turn out well.
Unless the value is too great to pass up in the first round, this seems like a need that could wait until later if the team feels good about things. But at some point, it could be worth adding another player with upside to serve as depth and develop for the future.