Originally written on The Saints Nation  |  Last updated 7/18/13
Who plays end, who plays outside linebacker, and who plays nose isn't going to be exact science at the moment with the team's switch to a 3-4. The Saints have some "tweeners" on their roster that could fit at multiple positions, which makes this exercise challenging. I'll rope the guys at the positions I think they likely stick (ie Will Smith at OLB) though, starting here with defensive end. The battle for playing time should be intense at this position. Here are the players: Cam Jordan: Because he is an excellent run defender, the 3-4 seems like a better fit for his skills, though he's held his on in the 4-3 the past two seasons. In year one he was excellent against the run, and in year two he really developed his pass rushing ability nicely finishing with 8 sacks. He's been durable, starting 31 of 32 games and the former 1st round pick is a big part of the team's future. He made a nice jump in improvement from year one to year two, and hopefully he can continue on that upward trend with a change to a scheme that should fit his skills better. He will definitely be a starter and on the roster. Kenyon Coleman: Coleman is a run stuffing specialist that played for Rob Ryan in Dallas. Ryan called him the best run stopping 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus wasn't far off from agreeing with him. At first impression I found that comment by Ryan to be absurd but it turns out it may not be that crazy after all. Coleman is currently the favorite to start opposite Jordan, and he will make the roster. At 34 he's no spring chicken, though, and with 13.5 sacks in 11 seasons it's fair to assume pass rushing is not something he even remotely brings to the table. Tom Johnson: He was an undersized 4-3 defensive tackle with a really nice first quick step on the interior. He's one of the few guys on defense the past two years, when healthy, that I've been impressed with. I also think a switch to 3-4 and moving him to end utilizes his skills a bit better. On passing downs I few him as a guy that would spell Coleman. He's gotten 3 sacks in two seasons of spot duty at DT, but lots of hurries and some nice disruption. Johnson took an unlikely path to being a role player on this team as he went undrafted and has played in NFL Europe, Arena Football and the CFL. He's likely to make the team. Akiem Hicks: Hicks has the quickness to play end and the size to play nose in this scheme, which makes him very valuable. The 3rd round pick last year was very impressive in spot duty and will continue to develop. I'll be shocked if he doesn't make the team and make a significant impact. I truly believe he's a star in the making, maybe even with more potential than Cam Jordan based on what I've seen. Jay Richardson: Richardson was a 5th round pick by the Raiders in 2007 and has the advantage of having played under Ryan and knowing his scheme. The Saints are Richardson's fourth team as he's bounced around the league for a bit as a spot role player. He has 7 career sacks as a sub, so he can bring a little pass rushing. I think he has a shot based on his familiarity with Ryan, but his grading on PFF was entirely miserable. Baraka Atkins: Since being drafted in the 4th round in 2007 by the Seahawks, Atkins has bounced around the league and the Saints are his sixth team. He has two career sacks and has played a bit on special teams. Atkins was signed based on impressing the staff at the rookie minicamp. He was in Cowboys training camp last year, so he's another guy Ryan is familiar with. He's a long shot. Glenn Foster: An undrafted rookie free agent out of Illinois, Foster is a real long shot to make the roster based on all the veteran Ryan disciples ahead of him. He played DT in college but seems a better fit in the 3-4 at end.  Predition: Coleman and Jordan are the starters, but don't be shocked if Akiem Hicks ends up starting. I love his potential. I think the Saints keep five ends at most, and maybe just four. I think Johnson and Hicks are the other two that stay, with Johnson standing on slightly less firm ground. Richardson probably pushes for that bubble fifth spot, but I think the Saints end up keeping just four. Your thoughts?
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mark Sanchez says it ‘crazy’ to call Chip Kelly racist

Malcolm Butler daring Brady to throw his way in practice

Geno Smith confident worst is behind him and the Jets

Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds

Von Miller earns dismissal from NFL’s drug program


Ian Kennedy watches birth of daughter on FaceTime before start

Matt Williams wants Bryce Harper to stop getting ejected

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Larry Lucchino stepping down as Red Sox CEO

Las Vegas Mob Museum to open FIFA corruption exhibit

Does NFL have a motive to settle with Tom Brady?

Jim Harbaugh gives Nicki Minaj a shoutout on Twitter

The Kardashian sisters still call Caitlyn Jenner 'Bruce'

Tennessee fan recreates Neyland Stadium in backyard

Lolo Jones: I could last at least a minute against Rousey

Bears have very strict rules for media during training camp

Jamaal Charles: I feel like I'm the LeBron James of football

Ronda Rousey: I'll fight Cyborg if she stops taking steroids

Danny Garcia beats Paulie Malignaggi, remains undefeated

Bobby Wagner, Seahawks agree to contract extension

Blount won't talk about reported failed conditioning test

Greg Hardy helps pay Cowboys fans to fly anti-Eagles banner

Report: 7-foot Aussie center to join Kentucky's 2015 class

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker