The 2021 NFL draft is months away, and while the New Orleans Saints are scheduled to make their first pick at No. 28 overall, there’s no guarantee that they’ll stand pat there. They have a history of making trades; New Orleans didn’t own a first-round pick in 2019 after trading it to move up in 2018, and they acquired extra selections in both 2017 and 2015 by making pre-draft moves. It’s anyone’s guess what they do (or don’t do) in 2021.
Still, it’s worth noting which players have entered the league at this slot in the past. The Saints have only made a pick here once in the last 28 drafts, and that was when they traded up to get Mark Ingram back in 2011. That isn’t unusual: This pick has been swapped around 14 times, twice getting traded multiple times during the same offseason. That shouldn’t surprise anyone given the vast majority of the teams picking here were Super Bowl contenders angling to make a move and add one more blue-chip talent to their roster.
That’s backed up by the teams who have picked here. The San Francisco 49ers lead the pack with four selections (in 1994, 1998, 2007, and 2016) while the Buffalo Bills (in 1993 and 2009), Carolina Panthers (2004 and 2014), Denver Broncos (2013 and 2017), and Seattle Seahawks (2002 and 2008) have also made multiple selections in this slot.
And they’ve found plenty of talent. These 28 players have combined for 27 Pro Bowl selections and half a dozen appearances on the All-Pro first team, with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The oldest active member of the group is free agent tight end Marcedes Lewis, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars and spent the 2020 season with the Green Bay Packers, though whether he’ll return to play another season is yet to be determined.
Seven players were defensive backs, and seven others played defensive end or outside linebacker. Four were offensive linemen. The rest were a mix of defensive tackles, running backs, linebackers, tight ends, and one wide receiver (2014 Carolina Panthers draft pick Kelvin Benjamin). A quarterback has not been drafted at this spot since 1980, when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Mark Malone, who spent a few years on the bench before going 23-30 as a starter, completing 50.9% of his passes while throwing 60 touchdowns against 81 interceptions in his career.
With all of that said, let’s dive in to the (relatively recent) history of the 28th overall draft pick, via Stathead.com.