FanPost

Saints' Lifers: The All-Time 53 Man Roster

As most of you are aware, many of the top players in franchise history have either gotten their start with another NFL team, or ultimately left the Saints to play for another NFL team. Few have spent their entire career with the organization.


I've decided to pay tribute to the best of that select group, by putting together an all-time roster of Saints' lifers.

The following is a position-by-position breakdown of the top players in franchise history, who never played for an NFL team, other than the New Orleans Saints.


QUARTERBACKS (3)
Dave Wilson 1981-88
John Fourcade 1987-90
Bobby Scott 1973-81

Analysis: The pickings are extremely slim at this position. At 6'3" 203 lbs, Wilson at least fits the mold of a prototype NFL QB. He was 12-19 as a starter and amassed a QB rating of 90.0 or better in roughly a third of those starts. Whether he would improve upon those numbers with better talent around him is anyone's guess. Fourcade was a fan favorite and showed promise down the stretch of the 1989 season, only to fizzle as a full time starter in 1990. Scott was the long time backup of Archie Manning and makes the roster based primarily on tenure. He is also a capable backup punter.

HALFBACKS (3)
Deuce McAllister 2001-08
Dalton Hilliard 1986-93
Pierre Thomas 2007-present

Analysis: McAllister is the team's all-time leading rusher and a cinch start at the halfback position. Hilliard figures into the mix as a change of pace back on third down, with above average receiving skills out of the backfield, as well as exceptional lower body strength for short yardage plays. Thomas provides adequate depth and is expected to make his mark in the return game. Derek Brown (1993-96) and Gil Fenerty (1990-91) fail to make the final cut.

FULLBACKS (2)
Hokie Gajan 1982-85
Ray Zellars 1995-98

Analysis: Gajan brings toughness and play-making ability to the table as the starter. As the better pure lead blocker, Zellars beats out fan favorite Buford Jordan (1986-92), in one of the more difficult roster decisions I had to make.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Marques Colston 2006-present
Devery Henderson 2004-present
Lance Moore 2005-present
Bob Newland 1971-74
Lonzell Hill 1987-90

Analysis: Colston, Henderson and Moore will be lucky to be even half as productive without Drew Brees throwing to them, but they're clearly all worthy of a roster spot. Moore makes the cut on somewhat of a technicality, as he was first signed as an UDFA by the Cleveland Browns, yet never played a regular season down for them. Newland was a frequent target of Archie Manning's early on, becoming even more involved in the offense when Danny Abramowicz left for San Francisco. Lonzell Hill narrowly beats out Tinker Owens (1976-80) for the fifth and final roster spot.

TIGHT ENDS (2)
Jimmy Graham 2010-present
Hoby Brenner 1981-93

Analysis: Graham is too dominant a presence to sit the bench. Brenner is awarded for his many years of service to the team, while longtime teammate John Tice (1983-92) gets caught up in the numbers crunch.

TACKLES (4)
Jim Dombrowski 1986-96
Jon Stinchcomb 2003-10
Dave Lafary 1977-85
Jermon Bushrod 2007-present

Analysis: While Dombrowski logged far more games at guard, his versatility, coupled with the relative lack of overall talent at the tackle position, make this his ideal slot. Stinchcomb mans the right side, with Lafary and Bushrod riding the pine as above average depth. J.T. Taylor (1978-81) doesn't make the cut.

GUARDS (4)
Jahri Evans 2006-present
LeCharles Bentley 2002-05
Brad Edelman 1982-89
Del Williams 1967-73

Analysis: Evans is arguably the best interior lineman the Saints have ever had. Bentley's versatility lands him a starting spot, despite having left the team for Cleveland in free agency. Like Lance Moore, he never officially played a down for the Browns, so he remains eligible. Edelman backs him up, while Williams is one of only two inaugural season rookies to make the all-time cut. The late Steve Trapilo (1987-92) is regrettably left on the outside looking in.

CENTERS (2)
Joel Hilgenberg 1984-93
Steve Korte 1983-89

Analysis: Unlike his brother, Jay, who played for two other teams, Joel Hilgenberg handled snaps exclusively for the Black & Gold. Not unlike Bentley and Williams, Korte provides quality offensive line depth, as each can play either center or guard.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (5)
Wayne Martin 1989-99
Will Smith 2004-present
Charles Grant 2002-09
Frank Warren 1981-94
Willie Whitehead 1999-2006

Analysis: Fantastic depth across the board here and that's a blessing, as the linebacker corps leaves much to be desired. Martin and Smith spearhead the pass rush, with Warren frequently worked into the rotation. Grant signed contracts with both the Dolphins and Bears after leaving the Saints, but failed to play a down for either. If nothing else, Whitehead should make his mark on special teams.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4)
Jim Wilks 1981-93
Elex Price 1973-80
Sedrick Ellis 2008-present
Tony Elliott 1982-88

Analysis: Martin and Wilks are capable of playing inside or outside, so plenty of versatility along the defensive line. While a 4-3 scheme is unquestionably the way to go based on personnel, the late Elliott offers an intriguing wrinkle at NT, should the 3-4 be deployed at any given time. It should be noted that all-time Saints great Derland Moore (1973-85) played one (1) game for the New York Jets in 1986, rendering him ineligible.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Jim Merlo 1973-79
Sedrick Hodge 2001-05
Ken Bordelon 1976-82
James Haynes 1984-89

Analysis: Unfortunately, all four members of the Dome Patrol elected to take their talents elsewhere before hanging up their cleats for good. On the bright side, Scott Shanle played for two other teams before ever landing with the Saints. And Colby Bockwoldt has played for two since. *knocks on wood

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3)
Alvin Toles 1985-88
James Allen 2002-05
Scott Pelluer 1981-85

Analysis: I tried to warn you.

FREE SAFETIES (3)
Tommy Myers 1972-81
Malcolm Jenkins 2009-present
Steve Gleason 2000-07

Analysis: Myers is my all-time favorite Saints player and a true ballhawk in deep coverage. Jenkins is arguably the most talented member of a horrendous present day secondary. As a lifer tandem, I'm sure there are many teams that would grade out worse at this position. Gleason makes the squad as a special teams ace, after never playing a down for his original team, the Indianapolis Colts.

STRONG SAFETIES (2)
Roman Harper 2006-present
Antonio Gibson 1986-92

Analysis: Harper starts, but only to shore up the second line of defense against the run. Gibson subs in frequently on obvious passing downs, and/or against any opponent with a D+ or better starting tight end.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Johnnie Poe 1981-87
Vince Buck 1990-95
Reggie Sutton 1987-88
Bivian Lee 1971-75
Bo Burris 1967-69

Analysis: Hit or miss secondary with Poe and Buck as the default starters. Like Gleason, Sutton is a demon on special teams. Lee and inaugural Saint Burris chip in on nickel and dime packages. Burris can also serve as a long snapper.

PUNTER (1)
Thomas Morstead 2009-present

Analysis: Morstead is destined to bounce around the league at some point. It's just the nature of his position.

KICKER (1)
Garrett Hartley 2008-present

Analysis: Ditto. Failed to play in a regulation game for the Denver Broncos. Pencil him in as a lifetime Saint for the time being.



TOP 20 ALL-TIME SAINTS' LIFERS
1. Wayne Martin DE/DT
2. Jim Wilks DE/DT
3. Jahri Evans G
4. Tommy Myers FS
5. Hoby Brenner TE
6. Jim Dombrowski T/G
7. Deuce McAllister HB
8. Marques Colston WR
9. Will Smith DE
10. Frank Warren DE
11. Charles Grant DE
12. Dalton Hilliard HB
13. Joel Hilgenberg C
14. Johnnie Poe CB
15. Jon Stinchcomb T
16. Brad Edelman G
17. Devery Henderson WR
18. Del Williams G/C
19. Jim Merlo OLB
20. Elex Price DT

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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