Saints Positional Previews: Offensive Linemen
When you think of offense, especially in terms of fantasy football, the offensive line never shows much in the stats sheet. In fact, most times you will only see them in that column when it comes to something negative, like how many false starts, or how many holding penalties were committed. The ‘beef’ up front is what enables everything else to happen through pass & run protection. They are responsible for so much, but don’t get a lot of credit where it’s due. In this lengthy breakdown, we’ll look specifically at the Saints offensive linemen.
Given all of the woes of the 2012 Saints, mainly on defense, the offensive line did a very good job. They finished the season tied for 3rd (and we mean a good ranking) in Sacks allowed, an honor shared with Bucs, giving up 26 total. Only the Giants (20) & Broncos (21) beat them out in that respective category. Fittingly, they also ranked 3rd in QB Hits Allowed with 59, finishing again behind the Broncos (46) & Giants (53). That may seem like a lot to you, but you may ask for comparison sake, which offensive line allowed the most in 2012? The answer: Philadelphia Eagles (118). Pro Football Focus ranked the Saints offensive line 6th overall at the conclusion of the season (8th Pass Blocking, 7th Run Blocking, 4th in Penalties), and drew attention to the recently departed Jermon Bushrod as being the ‘deadweight’ of the line.
Let’s start with the middle man, the Center position. Brian de la Puente, who just turned 28 this month, was re-signed on April 9th, much to the delight of any fans who knows of him & his abilities. He enters his 3rd season as a Saint, and it could not be more important. He has started the past 28 games at Center for the New Orleans Saints after spending his first few seasons bouncing from various ball clubs. Who Dat Dish’s own Chris Rolling recently put out an article that talked about de la Puente being one of the most underrated players of the NFL. I definitely concur. Pro Football Focus graded him the #2 best center for 2012. We only hope he doesn’t go anywhere this offseason, and given the Saints woes to losing offensive linemen, we have to put our faith in Loomis to get this done before Free Agency. Chemistry with Drew is so important, and this could turn out to be his best season yet.
Elliott Mealer, an undrafted 23-year old rookie out of Michigan, is currently listed as de la Puente’s backup. Don’t look for a ton of things from him, but if he’s going to learn anything from anyone, would you have it any other way than being from de la Puente?