Saints #1 Draft Pick History: Who Did You Love/Who Did You Hate?

Al Bello

The New Orleans Saints' top 2013 draft pick, S Kenny Vaccaro, has been both celebrated and lamented since being selected, and the poor guy hasn't even played a down for the Saints yet. Time to look back at all the Saints top draft picks in history, and recall which of them we were the most excited about or most disappointed in, before they could even play, too.

With the 2013 NFL Draft not even a week old now, fans have expounded all over the internets with their draft assessments, be them positive/negative, qualitative/quantitative, concise/long-winded, or well-informed/pulled out of their asses.

University of Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro has rightfully been the subject of much discussion around here since being chosen by the Saints at #15 overall, and folks on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between feel very strongly, badly, or "lukewarmly" about this guy.

Here are some initial reactions...

Wow, well I guess it could have been worse...

by aburton531 on Apr 25, 2013 | 10:22 PM

Love the Pick!

We need as much help in the secondary as well as the D line. Let's keep it going.

by Jricky70 on Apr 26, 2013 | 12:15 AM

5 int's in 4 years?

We could have taken Justin Pugh?He'll fit right in with the other no catching MFers... The Saints have not had a decent pass rush specialist in over 20 years and passed on a sack machine Jarvis Jones...I'm just not happy with the pick at all, especially with all the front 7 talent still on the board.
by canu2u on Apr 25, 2013 | 10:50 PM

Vaccaro!!

Well, by reading my fanposts, you know I'm happy about the pick. Honestly, I never imagined Floyd falling to us and would've been happy with him. Let's be honest, our safety play has stunk. While Jenkins may be the better of the two, he hasn't necessarily impressed himself. This team needs Kenny Vaccaro. I see this pick as our long time starter at safety for the Saints, as what is expected by a 1st round pick. No bust here, good safe pick. Welcome to the team Kenny!

by aryanspecial on Apr 26, 2013 | 1:36 AM

I'd have been alright with this pick, if Jarvis Jones hadn't still been on the board. As it is, I think we made a big mistake in passing at OLB.
by Drunkamania on Apr 25, 2013 | 10:23 PM

Someone tell me how to feel

by Fat Punk Kicker on Apr 25, 2013 | 10:09 PM


So as I read through all this draft coverage, speculation, and commentary, I find myself kind of excited about Vaccaro, but really not feeling very strongly one way or the other. Then I wondered, when HAVE I been either super-excited or incredibly disappointed about the top draft picks of the Saints before ever seeing them actually play for the Saints (as some CSC members are about Vaccaro this year)?

To help myself out, I fired up the search engine to give me a look at all the Saints #1 draft picks (see chart below), and then tried to roll back the reel-to-reel tapes of time in my head to recall how I felt about each draft pick just as and right after they happened, but before they took the field. I considered both team and personal context in my deliberations.

Start scanning the chart to begin your own deliberations as you scroll down...

Year Pick Player name Position College Notes
1967 26 Leslie Kelley Running back Alabama [a]
1968 7 Kevin Hardy Defensive end Notre Dame [b]
1969 17 John Shinners Guard Xavier [c]
1970 10 Ken Burrough Wide receiver Texas Southern
1971 2 Archie Manning Quarterback Mississippi
1972 8 Royce Smith Guard Georgia
1973 - No pick - - [d]
1974 13 Rick Middleton Linebacker Ohio State [e]
1975 7 Larry Burton Wide receiver Purdue
1975 12 Kurt Schumacher Offensive tackle Ohio State [f]
1976 3 Chuck Muncie Running back California
1977 7 Joe Campbell Defensive end Maryland
1978 3 Wes Chandler Wide receiver Florida
1979 11 Russell Erxleben Placekicker Texas
1980 12 Stan Brock Offensive tackle Colorado
1981 1 George Rogers Running back South Carolina
1982 13 Lindsay Scott Wide receiver Georgia [g]
1983 - No pick - - [h]
1984 - No pick - - [i]
1985 24 Alvin Toles Linebacker Tennessee [j]
1986 6 Jim Dombrowski Offensive tackle Virginia [k]
1987 11 Shawn Knight Defensive tackle Brigham Young
1988 24 Craig Heyward Running back Pittsburgh
1989 19 Wayne Martin Defensive end Arkansas
1990 14 Renaldo Turnbull Defensive end West Virginia
1991 - No pick - - [l]
1992 21 Vaughn Dunbar Running back Indiana
1993 8 Willie Roaf Offensive tackle Louisiana Tech [m]
1993 20 Irv Smith Tight end Notre Dame [n]
1994 13 Joe Johnson Defensive end Louisville [o]
1995 13 Mark Fields Linebacker Washington State
1996 11 Alex Molden Defensive back Oregon
1997 10 Chris Naeole Guard Colorado [p]
1998 7 Kyle Turley Offensive tackle San Diego State
1999 5 Ricky Williams Running back Texas [q]
2000 - No pick - - [r]
2001 23 Deuce McAllister Running back Mississippi
2002 13 Donté Stallworth Wide receiver Tennessee
2002 25 Charles Grant Defensive end Georgia [s]
2003 6 Johnathan Sullivan Defensive tackle Georgia [t]
2004 18 Will Smith Defensive end Ohio State
2005 13 Jammal Brown Offensive tackle Oklahoma [u]
2006 2 Reggie Bush Running back Southern California
2007 27 Robert Meachem Wide receiver Tennessee
2008 7 Sedrick Ellis Defensive tackle Southern California [v]
2009 14 Malcolm Jenkins Defensive back Ohio State
2010 32 Patrick Robinson Cornerback Florida State
2011 24 Cameron Jordan Defensive end California
2011 28 Mark Ingram, Jr. Running back Alabama [w]
2013 15 Kenny Vaccaro Strong safety Texas

CLICK HERE for the direct source of this wikipedia chart, where you can sort the columns and read all the notes on the trades, etc..

And now I have seven years of strong draft feelings to share with you, in chronological order...

1981 - This is the first time I recall being even halfway aware of the draft. I was just a nine-year old kid, and knew the 1980 Saints were just terrible and had earned the #1 overall pick in the draft after going 1-15, and that they should get the best player in college football. I knew the Saints had a new coach whose name was "Bum", talked really country, wore a big cowboy hat, and had done pretty well with the Oilers in the 70s. I don't remember how I found out that the Saints chose Rogers from South Carolina, but I remember realizing he was a really good running back who had won the Heisman Trophy, so he must be the best player in college football. So I was EXCITED about the pick, and what could happen for the team's future with him and Bum.

1986 - As a 14-year-old who was just beginning to really devour Saints news and sports information in general through TV and print media (we used to call them newspapers and magazines), this was a big year. Following the drawn out mess of 1984-85 when John Mecom was trying to sell the team, and the speculation that the new owners might move the Saints, I was glad to see Benson take over and talk about running his hometown team like a business by hiring the right people and then getting out of their way. This was a far cry from the way Mecom ran the show. I wasn't really aware of exactly how Mecom did things poorly behind the scenes (other than general things that my parents and other adults said about it), but I knew both Jim Finks and Jim Mora had succeeded in pro football, and I had much hope for them turning the Saints around. This was the first year I realized that the draft was on TV, and I hung around waaaay too late on a weekday morning (and was almost late to school) in order to see who the Saints would pick. Then I watched Pete Rozelle say, "With the sixth pick in the 1986 draft, the New Orleans Saints select Jim...Jombrowski, offensive lineman, Virginia." I then said to myself, "Who?" I knew of a Brian Jozwiak, but had not heard of Jombrowski. Then I saw on the screen that it was Jim Dombrowski. "Hunh," I thought. "OK, Dombrowski. I sure hope he's good." And again, I was EXCITED about the pick and the team's future, but this time, it was all because of my faith in Finks and Mora.

1989 - Hoooooo, boy! Was this ever a draft year that was pretty watershed for me (although I didn't realize it at the time). A couple of friends and I totally geeked out on the draft this year, printing out BLESTO (and the other, competing company, whose name escapes me and google, too) player rankings by position, compiling mock drafts, and then laying out our info ALL OVER my family's TV room as we watched this draft, from start to finish, I kid you NOT. We watched every single pick over both days, recording the pick itself, then checking it against our mock drafts (well, at least for the first round - we didn't mock the whole draft, just the first round.). My parents called it Saints Draft Central and laughed as they shook their heads and walked through our mess. When the Saints took Wayne Martin, we were SUPER EXCITED because he was going to make the defensive line better, to go with the Dome Patrol, and the Saints defense was GOING TO BE BETTER THAN THE 1985 BEARS. Looking back now at how much I enjoyed this weekend, is it any wonder that I am where I am now, doing what I'm doing as a hobby?

1993 - My first OH BOY AM I WORRIED draft. It was my senior year in college, and I can't even remember if I watched any of the draft, or what. But I remember reading up about the Saints trading Pat Swilling to Detroit for the #8 pick (BREAKING UP THE DOME PATROL) and then selecting a local-college offensive lineman I really knew nothing about. In conclusion, I WAS VERY WORRIED about this working out.

1999 - I've already gone on record with my stake in this pick BEING AWESOME because it had to be. I had absolutely ZERO faith in Dit-Ku (Mike Ditka and Bill Kuharich) to do anything of value with the other picks, so "What the hell?" I thought, "Why not?" Go for it. Give away all our picks for Ricky. Sure, I'm on board. WIN NOW and RUN, RICKY RUN and all that other stuff were my mantras that offseason. It was lots of fun, until it wasn't anymore.

2006 - I was OVER THE MOON for the Reggie Bush pick. As it unfolded the night before with the rumors, then the near-confirmation of the Texans decision, it was a deliciously and devilishly fun spectacle. We were doing family stuff with folks visiting from out of town, and got up early to take them to this plant sale in the cold drizzly rain, but at least we got back in time for me to watch the Saints take Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Big fun was had by all. I remember thinking that if only Drew Brees can just manage not to suck and just be more consistent than Aaron Brooks, that the offense would be fine with Deuce and Reggie tearing it up for years (like I once though Ricky and Deuce would). And with the Saints back in New Orleans after Katrina I had super high hopes that summer for EVERYTHING TO BE FINE.

2008 - LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the move up to pick Sedrick Ellis. I had been reading about him all winter/spring as the best D-lineman in the draft. He was on the cover of Lindy's Pro Football Draft Preview! He was even better than Glenn Dorsey (LSU! LSU! LSU!). I never, ever thought the Saints even had a chance to get him, and when they did, I swallowed that hook and was blissful the whole run-up to the season, joining CSC in July that year, and predicting an 11-5 record with an improved defense on Sed's back, and a consistently killer offense for the Saints.

* * *

So there you have it. While not having strong feelings about this year's top draft pick either way, I have detailed seven of my more noteworthily-emotional Saints post-draft, pre-regular season years.

Now I want to hear from you. When have you had a strong reaction to a Saints #1 draft pick? Why did this happen? What was the personal context for you? If it was from a year not already discussed, set the scene with the team's context, as well. Were you pissed about who they should have taken? Annoyed at who was selected just before the Saints pick? But limit yourself to your feelings during the offseason, and avoid actual discussion of how these players actually performed on the field.

Dig deep into your memory banks, this should be fun!

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