August 17, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA;New Orleans Saints offensive guard Ben Grubbs (66) runs out for introductions before a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Even though these big men up front do most of the dirty work in a game, they are the most underrated and unmentioned players in football.
For the past few years, the Saints have been applauded by many for having an exceptional offensive line. In fact, the Madden Offensive Line of the Year award has gone to the Saints two out of the past three years. At least one of the Saints lineman has been named All-Pro for the past three years. Last season two of them were given the honor.
Currently there are 15 total offensive lineman on the Saints. This includes all guards, tackles, and centers. It is hard to grade/breakdown these guys because they don't rack up offensive stats, but a pretty accurate prediction can still be made. Make the jump below to see my opinion on which offensive lineman will make the Saints final squad. Share your thoughts in the comment section below
These guys are locks to make the final cuts. All of them except for Grubbs were a part of the team last year, who was brought in to replace All-Pro left guard Carl Nicks. Zach Strief and Jermon Bushrod were the starting right and left tackles last season in that order. Out of the entire line, they are probably the weakest links. But that goes along with the theory that the Saints invest in better guards than tackles due to Drew Brees' height and pocket presence.
Before Carl Nicks departed for the Buccaneers, it was widely known that the Saints had the best guard tandem in the league with him and Jahri Evans. Nicks was said to be the better of the two even though Evans was ranked higher in the NFL's 2012 top 100 players. As I said earlier, Ben Grubbs was acquired to fill in for the loss of Nicks. Grubbs was rated as the second highest guard available this past free agency (behind Nicks), so picking him up was suffice.
Brian de la Puente burst onto the scene as the starting center for the Saints when he outplayed All-Pro and future Hall of Famer Olin Kreutz.
Charles Brown has sort of been a disappointment ever since he was drafted at the end of the second round in the 2010 draft. The former USC Trojan was expected to take hold of the starting right tackle spot quickly, but injuries and slow learning have impaired him from achieving that feat, leaving him to be the back up. Nevertheless, he will still make the team.
Marcel Jones was drafted by the Saints in the seventh round this year. The behemoth tackle out of Nebraska has been getting reps with the second team so he has definitely caught the coaches eyes.
Matt Tennant has made his place on the team as a backup in both the center and guard position. His versatility definitely gives him the upper hand.
Out of all seven of these guys, only Eric Olsen has played a regular season game in the NFL. And his only one was back in 2010. Yikes. The rest of the players are undrafted free agents from this years' class except for Fenuki Tupuo.
Fenuki was selected in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. In his rookie season, he was placed on IR due to a chest injury. His second year was spent on the Eagles practice squad. He came to the Saints halfway through last season but was once again placed on the practice squad.
In summation, there is virtually no chance that any of these players make the final team for the Saints. The practice squad or finding a new home are their only options.