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New Orleans Saints' Roster Top 25 Players: No. 15, Brian De La Puente

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Brian De La Puente, No. 15 on my list of the top 25 New Orleans Saints' players, looks pick up where he left off after a career year in 2012.

De La Puente has quietly become one of the best centers in the league.
De La Puente has quietly become one of the best centers in the league.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Playing what is among the most easily overlooked yet vital position on the field, Brian De La Puente comes in at No. 15 on my countdown of the top 25 New Orleans Saints' players for 2013. Besides having a great first name, De La Puente had a fantastic 2012 season, grading out as Pro Football Focus's second best overall center.

Sure, BDP benefits from playing in between two of the league's best guards in Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, but you still have to know what you're doing to play at the level he did in 2012. In 2012 BDP graded out as PFF's seventh best run blocking center and the 6th best pass blocking center (among centers who played atleast 60% of their teams snaps).

While run blocking was BDP's forte in 2012, that unfortunately has not been the case so far this pre-season. Through three games he's accumulated a -4.0 run block grade compared to a +13.6 grade in the 2012 regular season. Luckily, his pass protection skills have not fallen off one bit, and in fact have improved very slightly (98.5 pass blocking efficiency vs 98.2).

Before I get cursed at and reminded that this is just the pre-season -- I know, and I am not taking this apparent dip in production too seriously. The Saints obviously aren't showing much of their playbook with the first team in and I'm sure BDP's grades will improve once the regular season comes. That said, I think I speak for us all when I wouldn't have minded him grade out higher even if it is the pre-season.

De La Puente's Time's Picayune ranking - No. 19

Time's Picayune's No. 15 - Roman Harper

Canal Street Chronicles Top 25 Saints Players:

No. 25 - Isa Abdul-Quddus

No. 24 - Patrick Robinson

No. 23 - Jonathan Vilma

No. 22 - Ben Watson

No. 21 - Charles Brown

No. 20 - Brodrick Bunkley

No. 19 - Joseph Morgan

No. 18 - Zach Strief

No. 17 - Jabari Greer

No. 16 - Martez Wilson