Fleur-De-Lis Fever | Which Is the Best Draft Class in Saints' History?

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IApril 16, 2009

17 Sep 2000: William Roaf #77 of the New Orleans Saints takes a break from the action during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Saints 20-10.Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr.  /Allsport

Much of the New Orleans Saints' success (or lack thereof) in their history can be attributed to their results in the draft. The Saints did not have a playoff game until 1987, their 21st season in the NFL.

Here are the top drafts in New Orleans Saints' history:


Honorable Mention: 2006

The Saints brought in a new coach and just completed a 3-13 season. They had not been to the playoffs since 2000.  They needed a good draft and that's just what they got here.

While none of the players from 2006 have made the Pro Bowl yet, the Saints drafted four starters.  The class of 2006 was instrumental in leading the Saints to the NFC Championship Game.

While this class has made its mark, it is still too early to decide who the star of this class will be and the number of Pro Bowl selections this class will accumulate.

Notable Picks: Reggie Bush, Roman Harper, Jahri Evans, and Marques Colston.


Number Three: 1986

Another year, another coach.  Prior to Jim Mora's arrival to New Orleans from the USFL, no Saints head coach ever lasted longer than 69 games. 

In the Saints' first 19 years, New Orleans never had a winning season.  The class of 1986 would play a huge role in changing all of that.

The star of this class was Pat Swilling.  A defensive end at Georgia Tech, Mora quickly switched the powerful pass rusher to an outside 3-4 linebacker.  The 1991 Defensive Player of the Year was a five-time pro-bowler and recorded 107.5 sacks in 12 seasons.

Other notable picks: Jim Dombrowski, Dalton Hilliard, and Rueben Mayes.


Number Two: 1981

In 1981, Bum Philips took over a team known as the 'Aints.  The 'Aints finished the 1980 season 1-15.  Thanks to the encouragement of local sports radio personality "Buddy D", Saints fans began the tradition of wearing paper bags over their heads to New Orleans' home games.

The Saints desperately needed talent, and they got a lot of it in 1981. 

Another member of the famed Dome Patrol, Rickey Jackson, is the star of this draft.  Jackson was a six-time pro-bowler and five-time All-Pro.  He recorded 136 sacks and an astonishing 29 fumble recoveries in his 15 NFL seasons.

Other notable picks: George Rogers, Frank Warren, Hoby Brenner, and Jim Wilks.


Number One: 1993

This draft class for the Saints is more about quality and not quantity.  Two years removed from the franchise's first division title, Jim Mora stockpiled more talent for the Saints. 

In selecting left tackle William Roaf and fullback Lorenzo Neal, the Saints selected two of the best ever to play their positions.  They also selected Tyrone Hughes, who became a record-setting kick and punt returner.

William Roaf will likely become the first player to make the hall of fame and play the majority of his career in a Saints' uniform.  Roaf retired in 2005 and will be eligible after the 2010 season.

Roaf earned 11 pro bowl selections and is a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team.

Lorenzo Neal played in 221 consecutive games from 1994 until 2007.  He had been the lead blocker for successful running backs such as LaDainian Thomlinson, Warrick Dunn, Eddie George, Corey Dillion, and Adrian Murrell.

Neal blocked as a fullback for a 1,000 yard rusher in 11 straight seasons from 1997-2007. 

Tyrone Hughes was drafted as a defensive back but made his mark returning kicks and punts.  Hughes recorded over 1,500 kick return yards in three consecutive seasons.  He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

The Saints will be looking to make a huge impact in 2009's draft.  Despite having only four draft picks, history has taught us that a quality player can come from any round of the draft.