New Orleans Saints revamped offensive line looks to keep Drew Brees safe
By Jake White
One of the biggest mysteries for the New Orleans Saints in this upcoming season is which five players are going to be in starting roles protecting Drew Brees? Last year, the Saints’ offensive line was not near as good as it has been in the past. Brees seemed to be pressured more than usual and his guardianship just didn’t seem like it was in sync at times.
That being said, head coach Sean Payton knew it had to be fixed, so he went out and traded for one of the best centers in the league in Max Unger. Then, the Saints surprised again, calling upon one of the top tackles in the draft in Andrus Peat with their first pick. With those two moves, New Orleans’ offensive line went from one of the weaker units to one of the strongest.
I believe that three of the spots are set. Terron Armstead is a great left tackle — he’s young, very athletic, and keeps getting better. Max Unger will without question be holding down the center spot. He’ll bring toughness, athleticism and intelligence to the position.
Lastly, we have Jahri Evans at right guard, one of my favorite players. He’s a six-time Pro Bowl guard that plays mean, and when healthy, can block with the best of them. I think his injury last year affected his blocking skills. Expect a bounce-back year from him in 2015.
As for the other two positions, it’s too soon to tell who plays where. Zach Strief looked pretty good last year at right tackle. I think he might have looked the best out of the entire offensive line last year, but I don’t know if the Saints will sit the 13th overall pick (Peat) in the draft.
Maybe you kick one of them into the left guard spot and see how good they are at that position. I’m sure both would be pretty good. The only problem with that is both of them are 6-foot-7, and we all have seen Drew Brees having to stand on his toes to see over his line at times. An extra four inches would make it much more difficult for him.
If they do choose to not let Strief or Peat play inside, then they will let them battle for the right tackle spot, which leaves the left guard spot open. Many people have Tim Lelito in this spot, and that makes sense. He hasn’t seen too much time, but when he had an opportunity, he certainly made the best of it. He showed how much heart he has when he played only a few days after his grandmother, who raised him, had passed away back in 2013. I think he definitely deserves to have a shot at starting.
However, another guy that has kind of flown under the radar for the New Orleans Saints is Senio Kelemete. Saints fans should not sleep on this guy. He is a talented young player who looked good last year in limited snaps.
The good news is the Saints have depth at the offensive line with seven solid linemen. The key to the line is figuring out who is playing what position and then letting the group gel together.
They all have talent, but it’s not always about talent first off. They need to have time playing with each other, getting comfortable, and being able to trust each other. Chemistry is ideal, and that takes time. Hopefully having some veterans on there will speed up the process. With all the new moves that have happened this offseason, expect a clean pocket for Drew Brees in the upcoming season. No matter who starts, everybody wants to keep the New Orleans Saints All-Pro quarterback safe. They will all have their shot when training camp kicks off at the end of July.