Ranking the New Orleans Saints' players: No. 18, Jonathan Vilma

Once again this offseason, our Saints coverage team has ranked the top 25 players on New Orleans' roster. We'll unveil the list every weekday as we count down to training camp.

The criteria is largely based on one question: Who would be the best players on the field if a game was played today? Past accomplishments and future potential also are taken into account.

There were tough decisions, which likely will lead to plenty of second-guessing. So let the debate begin.

No. 18: LB Jonathan Vilma
Last Year's Rank: 11
Season: 10; Age: 31; Height: 6-1; Weight: 230

Vilma might be the hardest player to rank on this list because we haven't seen him fully healthy since 2010. At that point, Vilma was a back-to-back Pro Bowl player and the best defender on the Saints' roster. It's possible he could return to a similar level now that he's finally recovered from a major knee injury. But it's no sure thing since he's 31 and switching positions to the inside weakside linebacker in the Saints' new 3-4 scheme.

Vilma is a bit undersized for a middle linebacker. But he has always made up for it with his great instincts and intelligence (linebackers coach Joe Vitt claims Vilma has a photographic memory). Vilma has always had a knack for making big plays. We just didn't see as many of them last year after he returned from knee surgery in Week 7.

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