Saints Draft Need: Offensive guard

In the fifth of a series of articles profiling the New Orleans Saints' 2008 NFL Draft needs, Matthew Postins examines what the Saints have at a key position, who they could draft and what kind of impact that player could have. Also, look for links to stories, video and audio of players the Saints could draft throughout the article.

Saints RB Deuce McAllister will be back in a Saints uniform in 2008. But what about 2009 and beyond? That's a good question. obtained the remainder of McAllister's contract information and examines why that deal could turn the recent drama over McAllister's future in New Orleans into a yearly ritual. The story includes McAllister's potential cap hit in 2009 and why releasing him then — and not earlier this week — may make more sense for the Saints. Click here to access this exclusive.



Jahri Evans, Andy Alleman, Tim Duckworth, Jamar Nesbit (also tackle), Jonathan Goodwin (also center), Matt Lehr (also center).


Now that Goodwin and Lehr will be locked in a battle for the starting center position, the depth is pretty thin. Nesbit and Evans will be back as the incumbent starters, but the Saints could be looking for help in the rushing game, where they Saints ranked No. 28 in the NFL (91.6 yards per game).

Evans and Nesbit are big, but it's obvious neither got the job done last year. If the Saints are to be successful offensively in 2008, they'll need a better push up front so Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister can take pressure off quarterback Drew Brees and the passing game.

The guard talent is considered average this year, but spending a mid-round selection on a guard that could push Nesbit and Evans and add depth would be a smart decision.


Here are the top five guards in this draft, according to

Branden Albert (6-foot-6, 320 pounds), Virginia — Albert is breaking the rule that guards aren't selected in the first round. He'll be gone by the time the Saints select in the second round, for sure.

Chilo Rachal (6-foot-4, 315 pounds), USC — Some felt if he stayed an extra year he could be a first-round pick. The Saints could spend a third-round pick and get a player with first-round talent.

Oneil Cousins (6-foot-4, 302 pounds), UTEP — A bit undersized to be a starting guard, but he could grow into the position and provide immediate depth.

John Greco (6-foot-5, 326 pounds), Toledo — He's gaining momentum after a solid scouting period. His size is just about perfect for today's NFL guard.

Drew Radovich (6-foot-5, 304 pounds), USC — See why USC is so good? Radovich will suffer a bit because of his weight, but Trojan linemen are usually technically sound and learn fast.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is already looking forward to seeing Jonathan Vilma in a Saints uniform this season. Find out what Payton had to say about the Saints' newest linebacker by clicking here.

Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart stopped by the Saints' training facility near New Orleans for a visit with the Saints on Tuesday. Stewart talked to about his visit. You can find out what Stewart thought of the Saints right here.

Did you miss Matthew Postins' second Saints-only Mock Draft? Click here to see if you agree with his Saints draft strategy.

Saints head coach Sean Payton talked about his two top backs, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, recently. What did he have to say about their statuses? Find out the full story by clicking here.

It's the most important time of the year for NFL teams that want to improve their roster for 2008. Are you getting all the analysis you need as the NFL Draft approaches? If you're not, click here to find out how you can become a insider and become the expert at your NFL Draft party.

Matthew Postins is the publisher of He is an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association.

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