New Orleans Saints
You don’t produce what the Saints did last season on offense without having a terrific offensive line. I’ve mentioned before the lethal Thanos-like balance of the Saints offense, but the heights it reached could not have been done without the protection provided by Max Unger and company. The New Orleans offensive line took its first steps towards elite status when the team acquired Unger from the Seahawks in a trade for tight end Jimmy Graham back in 2015. Since then the center has started all but one game for New Orleans and aside from a tough early stretch last season he has remained a quality center.
Flanking Unger on each side are Larry Warford at right guard and Andrus Peat at left guard. The 26 year old Warford established himself as a quality guard in Detroit and was paid for those efforts by the Saints once he hit free agency. He allowed one sack in his first season with New Orleans, and committed a grand total of zero holding penalties. Peat is a bit more of a work in progress entering his fourth season, but by most accounts he had a solid 2017 season (though Pro Football Focus graded him just the 45th best guard in the league).
While it’s taking Peat a little while to figure things out, the same cannot be said for his teammate Ryan Ramczyk, whom the Saints selected in the first round of last year’s draft. The big offensive tackle out of Wisconsin was Pro Football Focus’s 8th ranked tackle in the league last year as a rookie, and seems to have confidently locked down the right side of the Saint line. At the opposite tackle the Saints have 26 year old Terron Armstead who is rock-solid when healthy.
Together this five kept Drew Brees off the turf for much of 2017 giving up the second fewest sacks per game in the entire league. The teams’ rushing output is fruit yielded by the their terrific pair of backs as well as their gang of linemen.