After reading Andrew's article, I decided to come up with a list of my own. I have highlighted several players that CAN be valuable to the team, but need to step it up in 2013 if they have any hope of sticking with the team in the future.
1. Mark Ingram - I believe in Ingram and his ability to be the featured RB in the Saints' backfield. As you all know, his career has not started off like a first round pick's career should and I fear if he doesn't have a breakout year in 2013 that he will be gone. Ingram has shown flashes of his talents and has also been hampered by injury and a crowded backfield. With Ivory gone, Ingram should see a considerably increased number of reps.
2. Patrick Robinson - Just like Ingram, P-Rob has shown flashes that he can be a good cornerback but the biggest issue with him is that he lacks consistency. If he gives up as many touchdowns has he has been giving up, I don't see him back in the Black and Gold in 2014.
3. Jimmy Graham - I know you must be thinking "What is this dude talking about?" when you see me putting Jimmy Graham on this list but hear me out. I have stated in the past that he led the league in drops last year and that's partly due to him attempting those "SportsCenter" catches when he doesn't have to. The number of drops is the sole reason I put him on this list. Needs to cut it out.
4. Roman Harper - Do I really have to go into why he needs to step it up? I will anyway. Often a liability in coverage and gives up the big play too many times.
5. Whoever the left tackle is - It will be a difficult task to step in for Jermon Bushrod who was more than solid at his position for the duration of his stay in New Orleans. Whoever fills in had better bring their A-game.
6. Zach Strief - For some reason, I'm always unsettled when I think of the right tackle position. I'm not sure if Strief is the long term answer at that spot at the moment. Would like to see him step into a more solid tackle.
7. Kenny Stills and/or Nick Toon - The receiving core goes like this in my mind: 1. Marques Colston, 2. Lance Moore, 3 - ______. After Colston and Moore, there is a drop-off in talent in my honest opinion. I do not think Joe Morgan will be a starting receiver for the Saints anytime soon (there's a bold prediction for all of you guys) and I look to Stills and or Nick Toon to share reps and possibly start for the Saints. I was intrigued when the Saints drafted Stills because he is a speedster and can stretch the field well which is something the team hasn't had in a while.
I would like to know what you think about these thoughts and if you have anything to add, I would like to hear it!
So pumped for this season fellas. I think Drew Brees can and will step his game up. He actually should step his game down a little bit. Take the burden of team captain off his back. Sean Payton can lock up that spot. Drew just throw that football the way we all know you can. The entire defense as we all know needs to step it up if they want to contend for a championship. I just want to see them progress from week 1 to week 16 and beyond if that situation arises. One game at a time, one quater at a time, one possession at a time, one play at a time.
I think Greer should be on the list and Harper is indeed a lost cause as Mr. Juge tells us in his comment.
Left Tackle guys... well I think the Rookie has some time to be good, however he could be starter. The Signed veteran (Yeah yeah I am too lazy to look up their names lol) has to proove himself. Do it now or be gone next year (overpaid to be a backup), though he might be valueable to be 2nd string at RT and LT at the same time.
I think Stills will not be nr 3. I think Morgan is but if he does underperform (although I doubt that judging from his growth curve last year). The other 2 might be on the roster or 1 on practice squad with a very decent Roby at WR position as well. Plug em in when needed and when someone is injure get the other WR of the practice squad.
This is a good list but I almost feel like Roman Harper is a lost cause at this point. i don't really see him getting any better. The clock is running out on Malcolm Jenkins, too. But I think he belongs on this list. This year is big for Ingram. They shipped out Ivory and that basically tells him "you are our guy". He better step it up. P-Rob has been so up and down I don't know what to think anymore. Strief, when healthy, is a very solid RT in the NFL in my opinion. He can't stay healthy though.
Two other guys I'd add to this list is David Hawthorne and Brodrick Bunkley. Both were disappointing last year as high ticket free agent signings. I'd love for them to make an impact.