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. 6, it’s guard Jahri Evans.
Profile: Year 9, Age 30, 6-foot-4, 318 pounds
Analysis: Like the No. 7 guy on this list, Marques Colston, Evans also had a “down” year in 2013 compared to his own ridiculously high standards. He struggled with both injuries and inconsistent performances early in the year. But it was a testament to just how good Evans is that once he got healthy around midseason, he quickly started to thrive again.
It might be harder to analyze guards than any other position in the league. But if you feel like getting a glimpse of some truly dominant guard play, watch the tape of the Saints’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys last year and focus on Evans. There was one play where he blocked three players to clear the path for a Mark Ingram touchdown run. And if film study’s not your thing, then just take the word of coaches, players and analysts around the league who have raved about Evans incessantly for more than a half-decade.
Evans is about as good as it gets for an all-around guard who can run block, pass protect and get out in front of screens. He was a first-team All-Pro for four straight years from 2009-2012, then a second-teamer last season. Evans hasn’t been quite as dominant as a run blocker the past two seasons. But like the rest of the line, he showed much more consistency in that area during the second half last year, including the playoff win at Philadelphia.
No. 20 (tie) RBs Mark Ingram/Khiry Robinson
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
No. 9 G Ben Grubbs
No. 8 OLB Junior Galette
No. 7 WR Marques Colston