Top free agent targets for New Orleans Saints: No. 3, Kelechi Osemele

brianpavek
Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (72) reacts during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (72) reacts during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Saints could turn to free agency to fill voids at the guard position, especially after the release of Jahri Evans. Kelechi Osemele is a fantastic option.

My last article had San Francisco 49er guard Alex Boone, so then why does the next man up on the list occupy the exact same position? The answer is simple: Boone is plan B and Kelechi Osemele is a GIANT plan A.

Osemele is a phenomenal athlete who brings the versatility to play every lineman position other than center, and to play it well. He has started at guard and left tackle and performed admirably in both spots. Positional versatility in a player is an enormous asset, and when you add the 6-foot-5, 330-pound frame that Osemele possesses, he becomes a can’t miss player for the New Orleans Saints.

He’s far and away the best guard on the market, and if the top priority of the Saints is to protect their aging quarterback, which it undoubtedly should be, then Osemele is their guy. He’s a proven commodity in this league, and because of the nature of his position, he will not come at a ridiculous price.

That doesn’t mean the New Orleans Saints won’t have to pay to acquire his services, but it’s money well spent in this case. If he is able to come in and help give the Saints the dominating offensive line play they once were known for, he would be worth every single penny they pay him.

You will hear a lot this offseason about how strapped for the cash the Saints are, about how past failings in free agency prove they can’t afford to spend now, and how they simply won’t find the capital. Don’t believe a word of it. We’ve heard it all for years, and frankly, not all of their past deals have been bad, just unfortunate.

What makes Osemele so tantalizing though is the near zero (near because nothing in life is guaranteed) chance of him being a bust. A proven player with a great skillset that you could place between your center and one of the top-three left tackles in the game today, or between your pro bowl center and your second-year right tackle (sorry Zach Strief) to help him develop.

In EITHER case, Osemele is a fantastic fit and an instant upgrade, and better play in the trenches will allow the Saints to do more than simply block better for Drew Brees. They can block better for Mark Ingram. One of the areas of weakness that hasn’t been covered nearly enough to this point is the at times horrid run blocking of the Saints interior line, in particular Jahri Evans, who is no longer with the team. The best way to keep Brees healthy and effective is rely on a consistent run game to control the down and distance.

You can’t do that without quality play on the interior, and because the New Orleans Saints vertical passing game relies a lot on play action to set it up, the improvement of the guard position becomes that much more important. Not only do you need guards strong enough to establish the run to force teams to bite on play action, but also solid enough in pass protection to give Brees the time to find the open man downfield.

Next: Top free agent targets for Saints: Alex Boone

I like the idea of adding Alex Boone, and I think the New Orleans Saints absolutely must add another guard somewhere in the draft, but I LOVE the idea of adding Kelechi Osemele to the mix and rebuilding the juggernaut that was once the Saints’ offensive line.

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