The New Orleans Saints have had so many poor drafts that it would be difficult to narrow down the worst list without first setting some parameters.
First, I decided to narrow down the list to the past 15 years. Then, I decided that it would be unfair to consider the past two draft classes after just one or two years in the NFL.
Dishonorable Mention: 2001
In 2001, the Saints picked one of its best players of all time, Deuce McAllister. Other than that, though, Jim Haslett's second draft was a disaster.
The last five picks (Kenny Smith, Moran Norris, Onome Ojo, Mitch White, and Ennis Davis) averaged less than five starts per season in their careers. The last three never played in an NFL game.
Players the Saints could have had instead: Steve Smith (74th overall), Kareem McKenzie (79th overall), and TJ Houshmandzadeh (204th overall).
No. 3: 1997
If you were to tell me that my favorite team was able to grab the Heisman Trophy winner and runner-up in the same draft, normally I would be ecstatic.
Unfortunately, this was not a normal draft.
After making a great selection with their first pick (Chris Naeole), the Saints made mistake after mistake.
Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel simply became a punchline as the Saints' quarterback. Troy Davis, the 1996 Heisman runner-up, rushed for less than 500 yards and just one touchdown in his three-year career.
Mike Ditka used New Orleans' two second-round selections to pick a defensive back (Rob Kelly), who had four career interceptions and a defensive end (Jared Tomich), who had 10 career sacks.
Players the Saints could have had instead: Tiki Barber (36th overall), Sam Madison (44th overall), Ronde Barber (66th overall), and Al Harris (169th overall).
No. 2: 1996
The Saints had 10 draft picks in 1996. Of those 10 picks, only one, Brady Smith, had any real impact on the NFL. Of course, he did most of his work with the hated Atlanta Falcons.
The Saints had a pick in the top half of the first round (again), and, as they did so many times in the past, they botched it up.
After three straight non-winning seasons, New Orleans had many positions of need. They decided to go with a cornerback and draft Alex Molden.
After starting most of 1997 and 1998, Molden dropped on the Saints' depth chart and eventually off the Saints' roster. He finished his career in Detroit (never a good sign) with 12 career interceptions.
Six of the final seven draft picks combined to start 13 career games.
Players the Saints could have had instead: Eddie George (14th overall), Brian Dawkins (61st overall), Tedy Bruschi (86th overall), and Zach Thomas (154th overall).
No. 1: 2003
2003 gets my vote as the Saints' worst draft in the past 15 seasons because they had so much and did so little.
New Orleans had two first round picks, the 17th and 18th overall. Desperate for some defensive help, the Saints traded both of them for the right to select DT Johnathan Sullivan.
Sullivan was a colossal bust. His work ethic was publicly questioned as he was always out of shape. He managed just 1.5 sacks in three seasons with the Saints. He ended his hapless career on New England's practice squad.
LB Cie Grant and DE Melvin Williams combined for 19 tackles in their brief NFL careers. WR Talman Gardner caught four passes in two seasons.
T Jon Stinchcomb is the only player from this draft still on the Saints' roster and one of only two players still in the league.
Players the Saints could have had instead: Terrell Suggs (10th overall), Troy Polamalu (16th overall), Bradie James (103rd overall), and Asante Samuel (120th overall).
While other teams such as the Eagles, Steelers, Patriots, and Giants have taken advantage of the talent available in the draft, the Saints have missed on countless opportunities in recent history to improve their roster across the board.
If the Saints expect to make it to the playoffs on a consistent basis, they are going to have to draft better.