I'm ranking the top 20 New Orleans Saints players leading up to training camp. It's based on their current value -- meaning both past accomplishments and potential are taken into account. Think, who would you want on the field most in Week 1 this season?
At No. 9, it's guard Ben Grubbs.
Profile: Year 8, Age 30, 6-foot-3, 310 pounds
Analysis: Grubbs earned his second career trip to the Pro Bowl last year after a strong second half of the season. Like the rest of the line, Grubbs was inconsistent early in the year, especially as a run blocker. But the line really started to gel as the season went on, culminating with a fantastic playoff performance.
Even more importantly, Grubbs has proven to be a reliable pass protector in a Saints offense where that is obviously priority No. 1. He allowed either two or three sacks last season, depending on the stat service. And he's allowed either five or six in his two seasons in New Orleans.
Grubbs hasn't been dominant since signing a five-year, $36 million deal with the Saints. But he's done what the Saints have needed -- he brought a physical and athletic presence to that critical left guard spot after they decided to let former All-Pro Carl Nicks move on for a blockbuster contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Grubbs has been a standout starter now with two franchises (he previously made the Pro Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011). The scouting service Pro Football Focus has ranked Grubbs among the top 16 guards in the league for the past five years in a row, including 11th last season and seventh in 2012.
No. 19 WR Kenny Stills
No. 18 S Rafael Bush
No. 17 LB David Hawthorne
No. 16 CB Champ Bailey
No. 15 P Thomas Morstead
No. 14 OT Zach Strief
No. 13 RB Pierre Thomas
No. 12 DE Akiem Hicks
No. 11 S Kenny Vaccaro
No. 10 LB Curtis Lofton