Saints rankings: No. 1 QB Drew Brees

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. 1, it’s quarterback Drew Brees

Profile: Year 14, Age 35, 6-foot, 209 pounds

Analysis: Rankings don’t get any easier than this. Brees is both the best player on the Saints today and in the franchise’s history. He’s one of the NFL’s four truly elite quarterbacks, along with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. And he’s the reason why New Orleans remains among the league’s top Super Bowl contenders again this season.

Brees showed more inconsistency on the road last year than ever before -- which you know he’ll be determined to correct this year. And he struggled to get the ball downfield for big plays during a late-season slump for the entire Saints’ offense. But other than that, Brees hasn’t really shown any signs of decline yet, and there’s no reason to expect one anytime soon.

In fact, thanks to some vintage dominant performances inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last season, Brees wound up with one of the best statistical seasons of his career. His numbers ranked as the third best of his eight-year tenure with the Saints in almost every category, including his 5,162 yards, 39 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 104.7 passer rating, 68.6 completion percentage and 11 victories.

With an easier road schedule this season, it wouldn’t be one bit surprising to see Brees finally break through and capture his first regular-season MVP award -- though he’d surely rank his second Super Bowl MVP as a higher priority.

Previous rankings:

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

No. 6 G Jahri Evans

No. 5 CB Keenan Lewis

No. 4 S Jairus Byrd

No. 3 DE Cameron Jordan

No. 2 TE Jimmy Graham