11 Facts About The Saints First Round NFL Draft Pick History
The New Orleans Saints are getting ready to make the 11th selection in the First Round of the 2017 NFL Draft. There are a ton of projections for who the team will take this year, and it’s 99% speculation. No one, not even Sean Payton, really knows what the Saints will do with their pick this month. But what we DO know is the history of the Saints organization with that first round pick.
From trading away 8 picks, including an extra First Round Pick, to move up in 1999 to take Ricky Williams, to selecting a future Hall of Famer from a local school, the Saints have had some big ups-and-downs over the last 50 years.
In honor of the New Orleans Saints picking at #11 in this year’s draft, we’re going to review 11 facts about the Saints Draft History:
#11 – The Saints Have Never Taken An LSU Player In The First Round
Well, you probably already knew that. But it’s more embarrassing than it sounds on the surface when you break down the LSU players that the Saints avoided. Maybe the best (recent) example is the 2014 Draft, where the Saints spent their #20 pick on wide receiver Brandin Cooks, while passing over LSU’s Jarvis Landry. Cooks did have 2 seasons with over 1,000 yards, but failed to make a Pro Bowl before being traded to New England this year. Landry is a 2-time Pro Bowl player who was on the All Rookie team his first year. There are more examples if you want to dig deeper.
#10 – The Position The Saints Have Picked The Most Is Running Back
The Saints have taken 9 Running Backs out of their 49 picks since 1967. Of the 9 First Round running backs, 6 have made at least one Pro Bowl. The next most selected position is Defensive End, which the team has taken 8 times.
#9 – They’ve Had More Years Without Picks Than With Extras
Yup…the team has traded away enough First Round picks to spend 6 NFL Drafts watching the First Round from the sidelines (1973, 1983, 1984, 1991, 2000, and 2012). They’ve gathered enough picks to double-dip in the First Round 5 times (1975, 1993, 2002, 2011, and 2015). That is, until this year. For the 2017 Draft, the Saints have 2 First Round picks right now, but until the First Round is over, those picks could easily be traded away.
#8 – 17 Picks Have Turned Into Pro Bowl Players
Don’t get TOO excited about that, because some of those picks didn’t make the Pro Bowl as a Saint…like Craig Heyward and Ricky Williams. Some of them also only made it once.
#7 – SEC Players Dominate The Saints First Round
Of the Saints 49 First Round picks in history, 14 have come from SEC schools. Which actually makes the stat about NOT picking LSU players even worse. 4 picks from Georgia, 3 from Tennessee, and 2 Pro Bowl picks from Ole Miss. The SEC dominates the next closest conference, which is the Big Ten, with twice as many picks.
#6 – There Have Been 17 Picks Inside The Top 10
With some really interesting names landing on this list, the roster of Top 10 Picks the Saints have made isn’t as great as you’d hope. Guys like Johnathan Sullivan, Chris Naeole, and Reggie Bush dot that landscape.
#5 – Only One #1 Overall Pick In Team History
That man was running back George Rogers, who the team picked out of South Carolina in 1981.
On one hand, that means the team has only had the worst record in the league once, on the other hand they’ve still had 17 picks in the top 10. So they’re bad a lot, but not bad enough to get the most help.
#4 – They’ve Found One Hall Of Fame Player In 49 Picks
The Saints 1993 First Round Pick turned into the team’s only First Round Pick to make the NFL Hall of Fame. When the team took Willie Roaf out of Louisiana Tech at #8 overall, the team was actually making a historic pick for a few reasons; it was their first pick out of a college in the state of Louisiana, it was also their last pick from a Louisiana school. Maybe they should consider looking at those schools more often…
#3 – Their Lucky Number Seems To Be 13
Or maybe not. The team has had the #13 pick more than any other slot in the First Round. They’ve landed on that spot 7 times out of 49 picks. However, from that spot, they’ve only managed to make 2 Pro Bowl caliber picks. Tackle Jammal Brown made the Pro Bowl twice for the Saints, and Defensive End Joe Johnson also made 2 Pro Bowls for the Black and Gold. Other picks from this slot include Donte Stallworth, Mark Fields, and Lindsay Scott.
#2 – Four Heisman Winners In The First Round, All Play The Same Position
Well, technically in 2017 that number is only 3, since Reggie Bush doesn’t have his anymore. But when the Saints took him #2 overall in 2006, he was the holder of a
Heisman. The first Heisman winner they took was George Rogers in 1981, then they waited until 1999 to pull the trigger on a Heisman again, when they sold the farm for Ricky Williams. Then it was Bush in 06, and Mark Ingram in 2011.
If you’re keeping score at home, all 4 Heisman picks play running back. The team has never drafted a Heisman winner at any other position.
#1 – The Saints Have Drafted As Many First Round Kickers As They Have QBs
You read that right.
There’s only been one quarterback picked in the First Round by the Saints, and that was Archie Manning in 1971. Then in 1979, the Saints took Russell Erxleben with the #11 overall pick (which happens to be their draft slot this year).
The action of drafting Erxleben might be the “Most Saints” thing ever. The pick may have cemented the 80s and 90s experiences as the Aints. The 1980 season was Erxleben’s second season in Nola, and what might have hurt more than his lack of contributions, was the success found by players the Saints DIDN’T take with the pick they spent on the kicker. Players like Kellen Winslow, Jerry Robinson, and Kent Hill.
The Saints are sitting on the same pick this year, #11 overall, as they were when they took Erxleben in 1979. It’s a 100% lock that they will not make the same mistake again this season with a kicker, they’ll more than likely spend that #11 pick on a defensive player.
But the team could also make history by breaking their most disturbing First Round trend…they could use the #32 overall pick to break their LSU drought. Shreveport native Tre’Davious White will be a very temping pick at #32 if he’s still on the board. It would be a major boost to the Saints poor secondary, would get the LSU crowd off their back, and would instantly steal back some of the Cowboy love that Haughton’s Dak Prescott has moved away from the Saints in the Ark-La-Tex.