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5 Biggest Draft Fails in New Orleans Saints History

Zayne GranthamContributor IIIJanuary 29, 2012

5 Biggest Draft Fails in New Orleans Saints History

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    In recent years, the New Orleans Saints have been one of the best teams in the NFL when it comes to draft time.

    They have found late round gems in Marques Colston and Carl Nicks, but they also have made great choices in the early rounds.

    However, New Orleans has not always been a great team when it comes to drafting players. The Saints, just as any other NFL team, have had their fare share of draft picks that have not played out as well as they had hoped.

    Before Sean Payton and Drew Brees came to town, the Saints were widely known as a joke. This is a franchise that had only won one playoff game in over 40 years of existence, and lived under the shadow of the great San Francisco 49ers teams in the '80s.

    A huge part of the Saints' failure was because of their unsuccessful drafts. This lasted all the way up until the early 2000s, when Mickey Loomis took over as general manger. Since then, the Saints have been lucky enough to have solid draft classes.

    Now, let's take a look at the five worst draft picks in franchise history.

5) Ricky Williams, Running Back, 5th Overall Pick in 1999

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    The New Orleans Saints chose Ricky Williams in the 1999 draft as the fifth overall selection.

    Williams was not a bad player; in fact, he was quite good for the Saints and is still a valuable player for the Baltimore Ravens today. While in New Orleans, Williams rushed for just over 3,000 yards, but only played in New Orleans for three years.

    He was then traded to the Miami Dolphins and had a troublesome time there, but was able to enjoy multiple 1,000-yard seasons.

    The factor that makes the selection of Williams one of the worst in Saints history is the fact that they gave up nearly two full drafts to move up and draft him.

    Mike Ditka, the Saints' head coach at the time, traded with the Washington Redskins to move into the fifth spot in the draft. He got rid of almost every pick the Saints had for that year and the next.

    What did the Saints get out of the deal? They got a solid running back for three years, but was ultimately more trouble and was traded away. This deal caused problems for the Saints long after Williams and Ditka were gone.

4) Joe Campbell, Defensive End, 7th Overall Pick in 1977

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    Joe Campbell was drafted by the Saints in 1977 and was supposed to be the next greatest end to play the game.

    He was selected ahead of guys like A.J. Duhe, Raymond Clayborn and Ezra Johnson, but never lived up to the hype that was surrounding him. The Saints thought that Campbell's aggressiveness was going to be the key to his success in the NFL, but it turned out to be his downfall.

    Campbell was a player that was unable to control his aggression and emotions. He was constantly in scuffles with Saints teammates, as well as other players around the league.

    Campbell was the Saints' starter for two years, but then became nothing more than a special teams player until he left the team in 1980. After one season with the Oakland Raiders in 1981, Campbell was out of the NFL, only five years after he was drafted No. 7 overall.

3) Shawn Night, Defensive End, 11th Overall in 1987

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    Shawn Night was a defensive end the New Orleans Saints selected 11th overall in the 1987 draft, and he never did much for the Saints or any other franchise.

    The Saints need a play making defensive end, but instead got a player that only lasted in the league for three years.

    From the start, Night got off on the wrong foot. He reported to Saints training camp late and quickly got on the coaches' bad side. 

    Night was with the Saints for only one year before he wore out his welcome and was traded to the Denver Broncos. In three years, Night managed to only record one stat, and that was a fumble recovery.

    Night only started one game in his career and is considered one of the worst draft picks in Saints franchise history.

2) Johnathan Sullivan, Defensive Tackle, 6th Overall in 2003

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    The New Orleans Saints spent the sixth overall pick in 2003 on a defensive tackle from Georgia named Johnathan Sullivan.

    In three years Sullivan racked up a whopping 57 tackles, one and a half sacks and one forced fumble. After sitting the bench for a year, Sullivan was traded to the New England Patriots, but never played a down for them because he was cut in early October of 2006.

    Not only was Sullivan a very unproductive player for the Saints, but he was selected ahead of perennial Pro-Bowlers that could have helped the Saints for years.

    In 2003, the Saints selected Sullivan ahead of players like Kevin Williams, Marcus Trufant, Terrell Suggs and Troy Polamalu.

    Sullivan was a horrible pick by the Saints and one of the worst in franchise history.

1) Russell Erxleben, Kicker, 11th Overall in 1979

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    In 1979, the New Orleans Saints spent the 11th overall pick on kicker Russell Erxleben.

    The simple fact that the Saints draft a kicker in the first round should scream that this was a horrible decision. However, New Orleans brought in Erxleben with the hope that he could win them close games in the ever competitive NFC West, and he was also a punter which would help the Saints as well.

    In training camp that fall, Erxleben had injury problems and was eventually beat out for the starting kicker job. Over the next two years Erxleben made horrible play after horrible play and quickly became one of the least liked players on the Saints team.

    Erxleben played in the NFL for only four years, and made just four field goals in his career. It also doesn't help that the Saints picked Erxleben before Kellen Winslow and Joe Montana.

    The New Orleans Saints have had many failures in the NFL Draft, but picking Erxleben 11th overall has definitely been the worst in franchise history.

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