The New Orleans Saints are widely considered to have one of the best offensive lines in the league today, anchored by what is among the best guard tandems in Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks.
Evans and Nicks aside that leaves right tackle Jon Stinchcomb, center Jonathan Goodwin and left tackle Jermon Bushrod who all have mixed reviews when it comes to performance.
Stinchcomb, the current longest tenured lineman, has played well for the Saints at right tackle over the years, but it seems his level of play declined dramatically in 2010.
Holding calls and decreased power plagued the big man for the majority of the season.
Goodwin was the backup to Jeff Faine before his departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers three seasons ago.
He has started 45 games for the Saints since and is an adequate, not great player, with above average football intelligence.
The Saints have brought in other center prospects over the years — Alex Fletcher, Nick Leckey, Matt Tennant — to try and compete for playing time with Goodwin, none have been successful thus far.
Tennant was drafted by the Saints last year and is still on the roster. If and when the NFL resumes play he offers the best shot at unseating Goodwin for the starting role.
Bushrod has been the Saints starting left tackle since taking over for the injured Jammal Brown in the preseason before the teams epic run to a Super Bowl Championship in 2009.
Bushrod’s play that year allowed the Saints to part ways with the two-time pro bowl tackle, who wanted a lucrative long term contract, in a trade with the Washington Redskins that exchanged Jammal Brown for a third round pick in this years draft..
But Bushrod is not the most complete left tackle and needs improvement in pass protection. He has fared well against some of the leagues better pass rushers and conversely struggled at times to keep up with them.
Last year New Orleans drafted USC takle Charles Brown in the second round, a talented but raw prospect whom they hoped would develop into their next starter.