New Orleans Saints positional previews: Offensive Line
Max Unger, Center, 8th season
It goes without saying, but Max Unger was worth every bit of the trade from Seattle last offseason. Unger was the true iron man for the Saints last season, appearing in 99.8 percent of the team’s 1,184 snaps. Unger allowed only one sack and one hit all season. Per Pro Football Focus, Unger finished as the league’s fifth-highest center in pass blocking efficiency with a 98.4 rating. The veteran finished 2015 with a +4.6 overall grade, which was highlighted by a +5.9 in pass blocking. Unger’s added value is priceless.
Zach Strief, Tackle, 11th season
It’s not a secret, but it’s all or nothing for Zach Strief this season. The most tenured offensive lineman the New Orleans Saints have would like nothing more than to put aside a dismal 2015. Strief appeared in 92.5 percent of the offensive snaps last season, which was the second-highest of all offensive linemen behind Unger. Even though there were times we could literally throw something at the television with Strief, he is a very well-respected presence within the organization who is expected to anchor the right tackle spot until/unless someone takes it from him.
Terron Armstead, Tackle, 4th season
The future is bright for Terron Armstead, who is becoming one of the NFL’s most dependable offensive tackles today. Arguably, he was the team’s most valuable commodity on the line last season. Armstead played hurt and grinded through the pain for his team’s sake, and graded out as the third-highest tackle out of a total of 76. His +30.8 overall grade was right behind Cleveland’s Joe Thomas and Dallas’ Tyron Smith. Quite simply put, The 6-foot-5, 304-pound left tackle went up against some of the league’s best pass rushers in 13 games last season, and emerged victorious more often than not. His impact was also felt in the screen game and run blocking. The Saints offensive line must have Armstead in the mix protecting Brees’ blindside to be contenders in 2016.
Next: The Wild Cards