Is the Saints OL the top in the NFL
By: Reese Nasser
Coming into the 2021 season, all eyes will be on the New Orleans Saints. With questions at positions all over the roster and the return of players such as Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, this teams future is uncertain. The expectations will be high and much of the success will come down to one group: the offensive line.
Anchor on offense
New Orleans has slowly crafted one of the best offensive lines in football. The tackle spots are locked down by Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk, who are both near the top of their positions.
Armstead and Ramcyzk are joined by guards Andrus Peat and Cesar Ruiz. The line is completed with center Erik McCoy. The line has a combination of both younger players and veterans. Ruiz showed glimpses of potential during his rookie season and hopes to build on that going into year two. Terron Armstead continued his dominance at the left tackle position where he played 880 snaps. It was only due to being placed on the Covid-19 list that he was unable to appear in all 16 regular season games. Ryan Ramcyzk proved to be a top right tackle in the league. In 16 games, Ramcyzk only allowed two sacks. Center Erik McCoy is arguably the unsung hero of this offensive line. After appearing in all 16 games, playing 1073 snaps, and only allowing one sack, the third year is primed to make a case for the best center in the NFL.
The Saints offensive line has proven to be one of the most reliable and durable units in the NFL. All five starters appeared in at least 13 games. This has allowed them to grow as a unit, something that many offensive lines are not able to do. As time progresses, units that become used to playing together simply look better than others. This durability has also come at a time where much of the rest of the roster is up in the air. With both longtime quarterback Drew Brees and star wide receiver Michael Thomas both missing time, this offense was truly up in the air and relied heavily on running back Alvin Kamara. At this point, all eyes turned to the offensive line who never lost their step. They even blocked their way to a six touchdown performance by Alvin Kamara on Christmas day.
The depth that the Saints have on the offensive line cannot be ignored as well. At each position there are young backups who have contributed to the success that the line has as a whole. Backup tackle James Hurst has proven to be the best of the reserves. He appeared in 12 games during last season and played a major role when both Armstead and Peat missed time. In recent years, the Saints have attempted to solidify the line even more by drafting Will Clapp, Landon Young, Derrick Kelly, and Ethan Greenridge. If any of this young bunch is able to turn into a high quality starter, the Saints offensive unit will continue to be great.
This offensive line will have a lot asked of them and they will be up for the challenge. As NFL defenses continue to get better, more is being asked of the guys in the trenches of the line. This unit has proved that they are built for it. While there are still questions at quarterback in New Orleans, it may lead to problems for the offense. This unit will have to hold it down for this point. They are not only the most valuable part of this team but are also the most valuable offensive line in the NFL. And with guys like this playing for them,
They have absolutely no reason to worry.