No. 4 Carl Nicks
Credit: Photo by Eric Gay / The Associated Press
I wondered about which offensive linemen should make the list and realized that Carl Nicks (77, right) is one who couldn’t be left off. No. 4 could be too high for him, but one thing is for sure – he has made himself into one of the best young guards in the league regardless of whether he’s indispensable to the Saints or not.
Nicks, who fell to the fifth round of the 2008 draft because of “character” issues, has been nothing but a delight at the Airline Drive facility. He has started 29 straight regular season game and 32 consecutive including the playoffs.
What’s more amazing, though, is that with Nicks in the lineup helping to protect quarterback Drew Brees’ backside, the Saints have given up only 29 sacks. In fact, Brees has only been sacked 33 times the past two seasons, the third-best number in the league behind Indianapolis and Tennessee, both of which have given up 27 sacks.
But take a look at the numbers and you see just how far he and the Saints have come with him in the lineup and why the Saints found a diamond in the rough.
In 2008, the Saints averaged only 3.21 yards per carry at left guard. A year later, the Saints were at 4.48 yards per carry at left guard. That’s quite an improvement.
And when the Saints needed a first down against Minnesota in overtime, where did they run? At left guard, where Pierre Thomas picked up two yards on fourth-and-one.