Ranking Saints draft needs: No. 3 C/G

May, 6, 2014
May 6
10:00
AM ET
A position-by-position look at the New Orleans Saints' draft needs, ranked in order of importance from 1-12:

Current depth chart:
G Jahri Evans, signed through 2016
G Ben Grubbs, signed through 2016
C/G Tim Lelito, scheduled to become restricted free agent in 2016
G Senio Kelemete, signed through 2014

Draft possibilities: A strong argument could be made that this is the Saints’ No. 1 need since they don’t have a single player on the roster who has played center in the NFL. The Saints are high on Lelito’s potential -- but that’s all it is for now. An undrafted rookie last year, Lelito only played center during the preseason and only started two games at guard. The Saints will eventually need to bring in competition for him, whether it’s through the draft or free agency (veteran Jonathan Goodwin remains an option).

Plus, even if Lelito does wind up winning the starting center job, the Saints need to add some young depth here. They would need a new backup center/guard “swingman” to replace Lelito in that role. And it wouldn’t hurt to develop a future starter capable of replacing Grubbs or Evans down the road if the Saints decide their price tags get too high.

So why didn’t I rank this position higher? Two reasons. 1. There aren’t many centers rated as first-round prospects, so the Saints might look to fill this spot later in the draft. 2. Teams don’t rotate their offensive linemen in and out of the mix, so a rookie guard might not even see the field for a couple years.

If the Saints do fill this spot in Round 1, it will probably be with USC center Marcus Martin, who has generated some recent buzz as a possible first-rounder. Colorado State center Weston Richburg is projected as more of a second-rounder.

UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo and Nevada guard Joel Bitonio are two other interior lineman who could potentially go in Round 1.

Previous entries:

No. 12 Kicker/punter

No. 11 Quarterback

No. 10 Running back/fullback

No. 9 Safety

No. 8 Defensive line

No. 7 Tight end

No. 6 Offensive tackle

No. 5 Inside linebacker

No. 4 Outside linebacker

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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