September 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) under center Brian De La Puente (60) during the second half of a game against the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Redskins defeated the Saints 40-32. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Most analysts have Brian de la Puente as this year’s second- or third-best free agent center, depending on how they feel about Evan Dietrich-Smith. For this, the second of a three-part series examining the top centers on the market, I put de la Puente under the microscope. I charted four of his games, including the ones Pro Football Focus rated as his best (week 11 vs. San Francisco) and worst (week 8 vs. Buffalo) and two that PFF graded as around his average (week 3 vs. Arizona and the divisional playoff game at Seattle).
Frankly, I wouldn’t touch de la Puente with a ten-foot pole.
He has some talent, does a few things well and has been a good player in the past. But from what I saw, he’d basically be Samson Satele again. He’s inconsistent, he’s lousy in run blocking and he has an occasional WTF is Brian de la Puente Thinking? moment (more on those later) – and, from the point of view of my own selfish convenience, WTFiBdlPT is a much more unwieldy acronym than WTFiSST.
While I want to see Satele gone as much as anyone, as Kyle recently wrote, that’s far from a sure thing. If it comes down to paying Satele $5 million for one more painful season or dropping a hefty multi-year deal on de la Puente, I’d take Satele.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go vomit.
DISCLAIMER: Grading offensive line play is inevitably subjective, since it’s impossible to know assignments and how the linemen are coached. These scores are based on whether the lineman appeared to succeed in his assignments, based on his apparent targets and how the plays developed. I assign all blocks a grade of ‘+’ (good block), ‘-’ (bad block) or ‘/’ (not involved, usually meaning the lineman couldn’t find anyone to block); ‘/’ plays are not scored. See here for an explanation of my terminology.