The New Orleans Saints might have one of the best offensive lines in the league but their depth is concerning when you really dive into it. I’ll explain.
Choose from the following:
- A) The Saints offensive line is a strength of the team
- B) The Saints offensive line is cause for concern
- C) Both A and B
The tilt of the article might tip my hand, but I am of the belief that the answer is likely C.
It is undeniable that the team’s starting offensive line group should be mentioned among the league’s best. With three first-round picks (Andrus Peat, the recently-extended Ryan Ramczyk, and Cesar Ruiz), a top-50 selection in Erik McCoy, and the NFL’s likely top left tackle in form of Terron Armstead, there is no shortage of talent upfront in New Orleans.
However, if you look closely enough, even the untrained eye (of which I possess two) can begin to make out the imperfections in an otherwise gilded veneer.
Last year’s newcomer Cesar Ruiz appeared to pass muster in his rookie season, yet his performance, on the whole, was uneven.
A center at Michigan, whose collegiate tape was far better at his stated position, Ruiz seemed uncomfortable at times in manning the guard position. Although starting center Erik McCoy might appear the better-equipped of the two to handle guard duties, the team appears hesitant to remove McCoy from a position in which he has excelled.
Formidable as they are, the group’s potential has been hitherto limited by injuries incurred by starters Armstead and Andrus Peat, who make up the left side of the Saints’ regular offensive front.
The New Orleans Saints don’t have great depth on their o-line.
Gone in 2021 will be Nick Easton who – despite being marginalized by many in Who Dat nation – offered competent, replacement-level starter reps when pressed into action.
Outside of swing tackle James Hurst — a talented pass protector signed in 2020 as a bulwark against injury to Armstead — the roster depth awaiting new Saints offensive line coach Brendan Nugent is equal parts unproven and underwhelming.
With the top six seemingly set, the battle is on for the remaining two-to-three big men that will round out the group as the Saints whittle their way down to the team’s opening day roster, with rookie sixth-round draft selection Landon Young set to do battle with the likes of Will Clapp, Ethan Greenidge, and Derrick Kelly
While it might seem misguided to single out what amounts to a team strength in the midst of the current roster-ongoings on Airline Drive, it is not hard to imagine the 2021 Saints going only as far as their high-priced offensive line will lead.