Sean Payton bringing interesting OL tendencies to Denver Broncos

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3. Sean Payton's Saints invested heavily in OL early in the draft

So we discussed the fact that Sean Payton's offensive lines typically included some unheralded guys as backups, but what about the starting lineup? Well, this is where there was quite a bit of early-round investment.

Especially recently.

As of 2021, the Saints had assembled an offensive line with 2013 third-round pick Terron Armstead as a mainstay, but they had three first-round picks in right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, left guard Andrus Peat, and right guard Cesar Ruiz. The other starter -- center Erik McCoy -- was a second-round pick the Saints moved up to get.

Before Ruiz and McCoy came along, remember the Saints signed guard Larry Warford to a big-money contract to play that position as well.

Prior to the center position being stabilized, remember the Saints also struck a blockbuster deal with the Seahawks, sending Jimmy Graham to Seattle in a deal that included veteran center Max Unger.

So, while it's important to note that Payton and the Saints clearly took pride in identifying home-grown talent for the offensive line, they always invested heavily in it regardless, at least when you're talking about the last 10 years. And I do think it's important to make that distinction because it's just so rare in today's NFL to find guys like Jahri Evans, Jermon Bushrod, Carl Nicks, and even a seventh-round pick like Zach Strief.

That's not to say the Saints ruled out late-round guys, but it was not nearly as common to see late-round draft picks in the starting lineup for the Saints over the last 10 years as the mainstays.

We saw the Broncos go after Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers this offseason as big-money free agents, which lends even more credence to what we're saying here.