Here's how each Saints player on offense fared in 2011: QB: Drew Brees was the top rated QB in the NFL, ahead of even Aaron Rodgers. His overall score was 60.2. By comparison, Brees was ranked 5th best in 2010 and 3rd best in 2009. So this is new territory for him to be graded as the highest ranked passer in the entire league.
WR: Marques Colston had a score of 17.5, good for 5th best in the entire league. Only Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker and Jordy Nelson graded better. Lance Moore came in 20th overall with a 6.9 rating, just ahead of Victor Cruz. Another interesting note is that Robert Meachem graded out as the 4th best blocking receiver in the entire league.
HB: Pierre Thomas graded out as the 3rd best running back in the entire league with a 18.5 score. Only Fred Jackson of Buffalo and Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville graded higher. Maybe he should have gotten more reps? Darren Sproles was very solid as well as his 12.7 score was good for 13th overall in the league.
FB: Here's something that's sure to shock most of you. Jed Collins graded as the #2 fullback in the entire league, and the #1 overall blocking fullback with a score of 10.2. Clearly the guys at PFF value his contributions in the Saints' running game greatly.
TE: Jimmy Graham also graded extemely high, just 2nd overall amongst tight end behind of course who else but Rob Gronkowski. His score was 17.2 despite a -7.0 rating in the run blocking department.
T: PFF agreed with my grades, which had Zach Strief rated much higher than Jermon Bushrod. Like me, they agreed that Bushrod's Pro Bowl trip was perhaps not justified. Strief finished with a 12.0 rating, good for 8th overall, with balanced scores across the board in each assignment. Bushrod wasn't far behind, though, rated 15th overall amongst NFL tackles with a 8.3 rating. Either way I think it's safe to say the Saints have very underrated edge blockers.
G: Carl Nicks was the #2 rated guard in the entire league behind only Evan Mathis of the Eagles with a 28.4 rating. Jahri Evans came in as 10th best in the league with a 10.6 rating.
C: Brian De La Puente finished a not to shabby 13th best among centers. Not awful by any means. He did receive a negative rating in run blocking which hurt his score but his pull blocking on screen passes was 2nd best in the entire league amongst centers, so that boosted his grade a good bit. Interesting to note that former Saint Jonathan Goodwin was rated before last (34th overall!) in pass blocking, and despite having a positive run blocking score he only graded out as 23rd overall. Seems like the Saints won out by not re-signing him according to PFF.
The Saints were the best offense in NFL history this year, so these high scores shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Still, it's great to see how well they stack up with the rest of the league. Top to bottom the Saints have no weaknesses at any position on offense.
The Jed Collins rating doesn't surprise me at all. I though he was very good all season, except for two or three games, where he got penalty crazy.
I think the O-Tackles grades were deserved and I don't agree that they're underrated. I think both of those guys should be where Strief has been most of his career...on the bench, ready to come in and spell for a play or two or to cover a few games for minor injuries. I believe a great deal of Brees' passing success is not due to their play, which was average, but his uncanny pocket awareness and movement there.
@cajuncommando58 Yeah, Jed's got his roster spot on lockdown for next year I would think. What a great pickup.
@jimgleason disagree on Strief. I thought he played above expectations this year. He's by no means a star but he's a serviceable RT. And I fully agree with you that Brees is so good he makes an average player around him look very good. But look at Charles Brown vs. Chris Long and the Rams. Brees' pocket awareness did nothing to solve that. And Strief never had an atrocious game like that. Long is a special player, but my point is Strief held his own over there because when he wasn't in... the offense was getting killed by Brown.