Best New Orleans Saints Draft Of All-Time
What was the best NFL Draft that New Orleans Saints have ever had?
I think the best draft that the team ever had was the 1981 draft, the first under new head coach Bum Phillips.
In that draft, the Saints chose running back George Rogers (first round-1st overall), safety Russell Gary (second round-29th overall), linebacker Rickey Jackson (second round-51st overall), defensive tackle Frank Warren (third round-57th overall), and tight end Hoby Brenner (third round 71st overall) in the top three rounds, who all went on to become starters for the team.
Not only that, but Jackson (1984-1987, 1993-1994), Brenner (1987), and Rogers (1981-1982), all received Pro Bowl honors during their time in New Orleans.
But teams are/were expected to get good players in the top three rounds.
It’s actually the players the Saints selected in rounds 5-12 that made that year’s draft so good.
In those rounds, the Saints chose the likes of offensive lineman Louis Oubre (5th round), defensive tackle Jerry Boyarsky (5th round), offensive lineman Nat Hudson (6th round), cornerback Johnnie Poe (6th round), linebacker Glen Redd (6th round), running back Hokie Gajan (10th round), and defensive lineman Jim Wilks (12th round), all of whom produced for the team.
Poe, Oubre, Redd, and Gajan were all starters for multiple years with the Saints, but Wilks may be the single reason why I think this draft class ranks at the top in team history.
Drafted in the 12th round in 1981, Wilks went on to play 13 years for the team, including 12 as a starter.
You could make a solid argument that Wilks, based on where he was drafted, followed by his production, is the team's best individual draft choice, ever.
The Saints took, and still do take some heat for drafting George Rogers, the 1980 Heisman Trophy winner from South Carolina with the top pick, over North Carolina linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
But did anybody really think that Bum Phillips, who loved to run the football, wasn’t going to take Rogers?
Besides, it wasn’t like Rogers was a bust. He rushed for over 900 year in three of his four seasons with the team, including 1,674 yards in his rookie year of 1981, a single-season club rushing record which still stands today.
Saints fans can make a good arguments for the years 1981 and 2006, but I believe that the 1981 draft class rates as the best in team history.