New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was running for his life last year, looking like a prize fighter on occasions bobbing and weaving to avoid the pass rush.
The pass protection that surrounded him had faded since 2011 when members key members like guard Carl Nicks left for bigger paydays.
The Saints masked the deficiencies as best they could but nothing looked like the dominant offensive line that helped the team win a championship in 2009.
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It became obvious in 2013 when former tackle and 2010 second round pick Charles Brown was benched for rookie Terron Armstead during a game against the St. Louis Rams.
Sep 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Terron Armstead (72) against Cleveland Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant (92) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
Armstead was chosen out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff in the third round of the draft that year after an exceptional NFL Scouting Combine performance that caught the eye of people like GM Mickey Loomis.
At 6’5″ 306 lbs., he ran a blazing 4.65 40-yard dash all while performing well in the other tests and on-field drills.
Armstead was given the left tackle position and according to Pro Football Focus is ranked 27th out of 84 offensive lineman overall.
In the 2015 NFL Draft there is a versatile offensive lineman the Saints could select that might mirror the success Armstead has had and possibly in the same round.
Ali Marpet out of Hobart has been getting some attention after he had a strong Senior Bowl as well as an impressive combine.
In the Senior Bowl Marpet went toe to toe with potential first round pick defensive tackle Danny Shelton and held his own.
At the NFL Scouting Combine Marpet had the fastest time for offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash with a 4.98 while also doing 30 reps on Bench Press.
The versatility that Marpet has comes from his ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line.
Jan 24, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad offensive tackle Ali Marpet of Hobart (50) enters the field during player introductions before the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The North won, 34-13. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
He played at tackle while at Hobart but during the Senior Bowl was played at the guard position and was also given some looks at center.
Marpet is quick and also very aggressive during pass blocking with good hand placement and shows some very good athletic ability.
During the 2014 season at Hobart he didn’t allow a sack while playing exclusively at left tackle and was a unanimous 1st team All-Liberty League selection.
The main criticism against Marpet, or more like question, is how he will transition to the NFL after playing against a lower level of competition at a Division III school.
Also scouts all agree that at 306 lbs. Marpet needs to add some weight to his frame in order to match up against defensive linemen he’ll face.
But if you can stonewall Danny Shelton who had drawn comparisons to Detroit Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata then you’re doing pretty well for himself.
The Saints don’t have much depth at tackle after Jahri Evans other than Tim Lelito which shouldn’t breed too much confidence if Evans were to be injured.
Although I think the Saints need to go defense heavy early in the draft, Marpet is someone who catches my eye on offense beside the flashy wide receiver position.
Currently Marpet is projected to be a third round pick which the Saints have two of and if they can snag him in this area then it would be a huge value pick.
Not saying that he’ll be a Day 1 starter in 2015 on the for the Saints, but he would be a good player to develop and offer the team some versatility at the offensive line position…..