Starting April 4th and continuing through April 29th, Canal Street Chronicles will be counting down the top 10 draft busts and then the top 10 draft successes in Saints history. Feel free to to use these posts as a springboard for discussion about how awful or how great each draft pick turned out.
Before the countdown starts, I would like to tell you all how this process will happen. Unlike the draft busts, which were easier to determine, the draft successes will be determined based on pure success in the NFL and being a non-first round pick. So, for instance, you will not see Willie Roaf on this list. The reason for this exclusion, is that I feel that first round picks should be a success.
As well, you will not see either Colston or Evans on this list as their career's are not over yet. Though they are clearly steals of the draft, it cannot be determined where they lie in a list of 10 with people who have already hung up their cleats. So no Saints players will appear on this list if they started playing after 2000.
Now on to the top draft successes in Saints history!
It is the 1981 draft and the Saints had found a way to become even more of a joke as a franchise by having a 1-15 1980 season. This was the season famous for starting the "paper bag" phenomenon that is now customary when your franchise sucks. The Saints had a new coaching staff led by Bum Phillips, who was planning to help turn the franchise around. The 1981 draft brought a lot of success for the Saints. In fact, there are three players on our list from that draft, and another who just missed the cutoff.
Jim Wilks was a defensive end from San Diego State University who was drafted in the 12th round. As a 12th round player, the Saints didn't expect much from him. Instead, he became a great player, racking up 45.5 sacks and playing for 13 seasons, all of them on the Saints. In total, Wilks managed to play 183 games during those 13 seasons. Though not a super star, he got the job done as a player with little expectation placed upon him coming into the league. Jim Wilks showed that anybody can make a difference in the NFL; what round you are drafted in makes no difference.
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