As the draft approaches, lets look back on some of the greatest players ever selected by the Saints
1st Round: Willie Roaf-LT (1993, 8th overall)
An 11-time Pro Bowler and 9-time All-Pro, Willie Roaf was arguably the best left tackle of the 90’s. Drafted out of Louisiana Tech in the 1993 draft, Roaf’s 9 year career in New Orleans was sandwiched between the two best eras of Saints football. Despite only appearing on one playoff team, that did however get the team’s first playoff win, Roaf is remembered as a top 5 player in team history. Elected to seven different Halls of Fame after his retirement, including the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame, the player known as “Nasty” will always be remembered among the leagues best blind side blockers.
Honorable Mentions: Cameron Jordan-DE (2011, 24th overall), Deuce McAllister-RB (2001, 23rd overall)
2nd Round: Rickey Jackson-OLB (1981, 51st overall)
The leader of the greatest linebacking corps in NFL history, Rickey Jackson was the first Hall of Famer in team history and arguably the greatest player in the history of the Saints until Drew Brees came to town. Jackson put the Saints on the map for the first time in team history, leading the Saints to their first four playoff berths in team history. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010, the day before the Saints won Super Bowl 44, the 5-time All-Pro retired as, and still is, the leading sacker in team history, and the third leading sacker in NFL history.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Thomas-WR (2016, 47th Overall), Tracy Porter-CB (2008, 40th overall), Roman Harper-S (2006, 43rd overall)
3rd Round: Pat Swilling-OLB (1986, 60th overall)
Another member of the Dome Patrol, Swilling was Rickey Jackson’s running mate on the outside for seven years, leading the team to four playoff berths in that seven year period after previously missing the playoffs in the first 20 years of Saints football. Swilling won defensive player of the year in 1991 after recording 17 sacks that year and leading the Saints to their first ever division title. Alvin Kamara may wind up being in this slot when it’s all said and done, but for now, Pat Swilling should be remembered as one of the best linebackers in team history.
Honorable Mentions: Alvin Kamara-RB (2017, 67th overall), Jimmy Graham-TE (2010, 95th overall)
4th Round: Jahri Evans-OG (2006, 108th overall)
The centerpiece of the Saints offensive line for nine years, it is not often that you can find players named to five All-Pro teams and an All-Decade team in the 4th round of the NFL draft. Evans did not receive an athletic scholarship but rather an academic scholarship to Division II Bloomsburg University after finishing 10th in his High School class. Just a few years later, he would become the highest paid Guard in NFL history. Evans was worth every penny as he protected Drew Brees for most of his career, and has a chance to be the teams next Hall of Famer other than Brees, as he will be eligible in 2023.
Honorable Mentions: Morten Anderson-K (1982, 86th overall), Lorenzo Neal-FB (1993, 89th overall)
5th Round-Carl Nicks-OG (2008, 164th overall)
Another late round steal at offensive guard, Carl Nicks would make two All-Pro teams in his short but sweet time in New Orleans. Nicks started opposite of Evans in Super Bowl 44, and later in 2011 joined him as a first team All-Pro. Nicks unfortunately would leave the Saints after his rookie deal ran out, and later would be forced into early retirement by MRSA and other health issues. Despite this, Nicks formed arguably the best interior offensive line in his four years in New Orleans, and was elected to the Saints Hall of Fame in 2017.
Honorable Mentions: Thomas Morstead-P (2009, 164th overall)
6th Round-Fred McAfee-RB/ST (1991, 154th overall)
One of the more underrated or forgotten gems in team history, McAfee was drafted as a running back in 1991, but struggled to find a place in the backfield. After playing for four different teams in his first nine years in the NFL, McAfee returned to the Saints in 2000 and became a full time especial teamer. Named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams in 2002, McAfee recovered five special teams fumbles in his Saints career. His presence in the locker room can still be felt to this day, as he joined the front office just a few weeks after retiring, and is currently the teams Director of Player Development.
Honorable Mentions: none
7th Round: Marques Colston-WR (2006, 252nd overall)
The easiest choice of this whole list, and one of the greatest 7th-round picks in NFL history, Marques Colston is certainly on the Saints Mount Rushmore with Roaf Jackson and Brees. Colston is the Saints franchise leader in receiving yards, receptions, and total touchdowns. Still underrated to this day, Colston is by far the best player in league history to never make a Pro Bowl. Colston however got the most important achievement of all, a Super Bowl ring. In a way it is appropriate that Colston never made a Pro Bowl, as he was never a flashy player that appeared in commercials or danced in the end zone as most receivers do nowadays. He was the kind of WR that wasn’t afraid of anything, and would make the catch no matter how hard he got hit, and would always get up and make that catch again.
Honorable Mentions: Zach Strief-OG (2006, 210th overall)
UDFA: Pierre Thomas-RB (2007)
Undrafted out of the University of Illinois, Pierre Thomas went from being buried on the depth chart behind players such as Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush to starting and scoring in a Super Bowl in just two seasons. An injury to Bush forced Thomas into action late in 2008 and he more than capitalized on the opportunity, averaging 112 yards from scrimmage and scoring 9 touchdowns in just six games.
Honorable Mentions: Deonte Harris-KR (2019), Sammy Knight-S (1997), Chris Ivory-RB (2010)
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