De La Puente stepped in for an injured Olin Kreutz in October of last years, and played so well that the Saints were persuaded to give him the job, a move that essentially pushed Kreutz towards retirement.
He started twelve games having a breakout season after helping Drew Brees thrown for a new NFL record 5,476 passing yards, and contributing to the Saints sixth ranked ground game that totaled 132.9 yards per game.
But De La Puente is a bit undersized for a center, not overly strong, and is likely to have issues with some of the leagues bigger nose and defensive tackles.
While the Saints clearly like him it seems they are not completely sold on him as the long term answer at center, evident by the one-year contract they gave him to remain with the team through 2012.
New Orleans is likely to lose some draft picks this year, and perhaps next, one the league decides just how much discipline to hand out to the Saints for Gregg Williams “bounty program”.
Because of this the center position will not likely be high on the list come draft day, and the Saints could turn to free agency this yeat in an attempt to bring someone in who can push De La Puente to be better, or push him completely out of the way.
The list of potential free agent centers is impressive this year.