The protection of QB Drew Brees is a vital element to the New Orleans Saints‘ offensive consistency. In 2014, we saw that guardianship take a substantial decline, which led to poor decision making and turnovers by Brees.
After all the hits the Saints Pro-Bowl QB has taken over the years, age begins to factor in as well, so keeping him safe and healthy is crucial. The 2015 NFL Draft is full of some intriguing prospects along the offensive line — South Carolina product A.J. Cann could possibly be a nice little option at guard for the Black and Gold in the second round.
The former Gamecock boats a bulky frame and flexible body, playing with good knee bend at a low pad level. Cann possesses natural power and upper body strength in the arms and hands, which often give him the advantage over his opponents — he’s usually the one in control.
He stays well balanced during contact even when he’s knocked back by incoming attackers. Displaying great football instincts and discipline at South Carolina, he became a permanent team captain as a junior.
"2011: Redshirt freshman who started every game at left guard… one of seven Gamecocks to earn a start in every contest… first-team Freshman All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com, CBSSports.com, FOXSportsNext.com and Phil Steele… on the Coaches’ and Rivals.com SEC All-Freshman team… member of the Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll.2012: Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman… started 12 of 13 games at left guard… did not get the start at Florida, the only game he has not started in his career… earned a spot on Phil Steele’s third-team Midseason All-SEC squad… a member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.2013: Voted a permanent team captain as a junior… started every game… was a first-team midseason and third-team postseason All-SEC selection by Phil Steele… a member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll… presented with the Everyday Hustle Award for the offense at the spring game.2014: Senior leader of the offensive line… named first-team All-America by Sporting News, ESPN.com and CBSSportsline.com, was a second-team All-American by Walter Camp, Associated Press and Sports Illustrated, and was a third-team selection by College Sports Madness… earned first team All-SEC honors by the coaches and ESPN.com and was a second-team pick by the AP… named team captain for the second-straight year… was a preseason first-team All-American by USA Today, SI.com, CBSSportsLine.com, Athlon’s and Phil Steele… a three-time member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll… a four-year starter at left guard, has made 51 starts, the second-most in school history behind only T.J. Johnson (53)… enjoyed a mission trip to Israel during the summer prior to his senior season."
A.J. Cann is unproven at all other positions but left guard, which is arguably top-priority along the offensive line for the New Orleans Saints. He lacks the quickness and burst off the line most coaches prefer to see and has trouble changing directions at times, but practice makes perfect under a legitimate staff.
Scouting combine measurements:
Weight: 313 LBS
Arm length: 32 5/8 inches
Hands: 10 1/4 inches
Bench press (225 LBS): 26 reps
Cann took part in the bench press and offensive line drills this past weekend in Indianapolis, where he finished ninth among offensive lineman, but he did not participate in any of the speed or explosion workouts due to a calf injury.
With Ben Grubbs a likely goner and the possibility of an injured and struggling Jahri Evans being released as well, Cann could be a prime candidate for Sean Payton and company. He possesses intriguing upside as a long-term option on the offensive line in the Big Easy — Brees needs that protection.
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