The New Orleans Saints have plenty of superstars in the spotlight at all times thanks to guys like Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. New Orleans also has some characters such as Marques Colston who is quietly one of the best players in the league.
Then you have a guy like center Brian de la Puente.
The man is an unheralded superstar in the utmost sense and a big part of the reason Brees has been able to stay relatively healthy over the past couple of seasons.
After taking over at the start of the 2011 season de la Puente has not missed a game and has used a combination of an extremely high football I.Q. with excellent athleticism to help Brees guide the Saints’ aerial attack.
Only one organization seems to give de la Puente the praise he deserves. Said organization would be the good folks over at Pro Football Focus, a site that breaks down every snap of every player each year and provides detailed feedback even used bu some NFL teams.
According to the guys at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), de la Puente was the No. 2 center overall in the NFL last year. In 2011 he was No. 12 overall in essentially what amounted to his rookie season in the league after bouncing around with a few teams on futures contracts.
You sure don’t hear any of that in the media.
The fact of the matter is, Brees helps de la Puente as much as he helps his quarterback. Brees has one of the fastest released in the NFL and within the confines of the offense he gets rid of the ball well before defenses have a chance to put pressure on him consistently.
Still, you won’t see a highlight video for de la Puente and most places only grade him as an average player. His play on the field speaks for itself.
Believe it or not the Saints have a superstar on the offensive line not named Carl Nicks or Ben Grubbs. His name is Brian de la Puente.