How many times as Saints Fans, while watching a game, have we said: “C’mon man!”, “Are you kidding me?”, “Block for him!”, “There’s too much pressure on Drew!” ?
In my opinion, this has been a difficult year for the Saints Offensive Line. Maybe it’s just because we saw so much improvement in the defense department and tend to focus on Drew and the running game.
Before free agency begins, I wanted to list what I think each position needs and give an overview of the season and future outlook.
This season, the Saints had to deal with the loss of offensive line coach, Aaron Kromer to the Chicago Bears. Pete Carmichael and Brett Ingalls took over and this coaching change was definitely noticeable.
The Saints have also lost three Offensive Pro Bowlers in free agency, one each of the last three off seasons. Jonathan Goodwin is now a Center in San Francisco and was replaced by Brian de la Puente. Carl Nicks has joined the guards in Tampa Bay. However, Ben Grubbs was brought in to replace him. Most importantly, Jermon Bushrod, who was Drew Brees blind side protector, is now Jay Cutler’s personal bodyguard in Chicago.
But this organization has never really focused on what they have lost and now it is catching up with them.
This past season, left tackle was clearly the position that needed the most help. Charles Brown has problems with injuries and was benched with two games left in the regular season. This gave rookie Terron Armstead a chance to prove himself. Armstead showed some talent and in my opinion has the ability to be a future Pro-Bowler. All he needs is more playing time, being that he has only played in 3 games this season.
Tackle Zach Strief was hardly reliable and let Drew Brees get sacked way too many times. No quarterback likes feeling pressured. This could be a part of the reason Drew struggled late in the season. Part of the problem was that Strief was too slow due to his size. I do not believe he is bad at his position, I just think he is no longer a good fit for the Saints but will most likely be picked up by another team in free agency.
Guard Jahri Evans is a Pro-Bowler and deserves a spot on this roster. A problem could arise when the team discusses the salary cap. He is a very expensive player and keeping him could be a problem for the Saints.
Luckily, this years draft is loaded with offensive lineman and the Saints should be able to add some more talent to these three departments.
I do not see enough aggression on the O-Line and believe this is something that is needed to win championships. So, who is available to take this team to the next level?
Auburn’s Greg Robinson is talented in the fact that he is able to play both right and left tackle. Flexibility like this is coveted. Also, Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson has a great style of play. He could bring a new mindset to the Saints O-Line. It doesn’t hurt that he stands at six feet six inches and weighs 327 pounds. Can you say intimidating?
Whoever the Saints are lucky enough to get, they must have three things: size, ability to be a great pass and run-blocker and consistency. I’d prefer someone like Zack Martin from Notre Dame. Martin currently plays left tackle but could possibly transition to a guard position in the NFL.
Free Agency and the Draft are right around the corner. I will be paying close attention to what the New Orleans Saints do in the offensive line department. Hopefully they pick up some prime talent, which will put this team back on top.