What’s up New Orleans Saints fans, Tee’s Corner Podcast is back with another installment. Today, we’re going to take a look at Sean Payton era draft picks and attempt to determine which pick was the best. The beauty of this topic is that we do not have to consider Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, and a few other players who were signed as free agents or un-drafted players out of college. However, we are still faced with deciding between surprise picks such Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston and first-rounders like Cam Jordan and Malcolm Jenkins. before we get started, let me clarify that the player does not have to still be on the roster but his performance as a Saints player takes priority over total career productivity. Without further delay, let’s get started.
Sean Payton has been the Saints head coach since the offseason leading into the 2006 season. His biggest move was placing his biggest bet on Brees and signing him to a good faith deal. Over the next 11 seasons, Payton and the front office would have as few as four selections in 2009 and as many as nine in 2015 with an average of 6 picks per season. It should be noted that the team made 8 selections in 2006 before beginning a trade up trend which would reduce their total picks frequently and forfeited several picks in 2012, impacting this trade up trend even more. (Side note: If you honestly believe that losing picks had no impact on the Saints’ decision to trade up, then you haven’t been paying attention.)
I won’t list every pick since 2006, but I will share the notable picks from each season.
*(-) = Round Selected
2006 - (1) Reggie Bush, (2) Roman Harper, (4) Jahri Evans, (5) Rob Ninkovich, & (7) Zach Strief & Marques Colston
2007 - (1) Robert Meachem, (4) Antonio Pittman & Jermon Bushrod
2008 - (1) Sedrick Ellis, (2) Tracy Porter, & (5) Carl Nicks
2009 - (1) Malcolm Jenkins & (5) Thomas Morstead
2010 - (1) Patrick Robinson, (2) Charles Brown, & (3) Jimmy Graham
2011 - (1) Cameron Jordan & Mark Ingram
2012 - (3) Akiem Hicks, (4) Nick Toon, & (5) Corey White
2013 - (1) Kenny Vaccaro, (3) Terron Armstead & John Jenkins, & (5) Kenny Stills
2014 - (1) Brandin Cooks & (2) Stanley Jean-Baptiste
2015 - (1) Andrus Peat & Stephone Anthony, (2) Hau’oli Kikaha, (3) Garrett Grayson & P.J. Williams, (5) Davis Tull, Tyeler Davison, & Damian Swann, & (7) Marcus Murphy
2016 - (1) Sheldon Rankins, (2) Michael Thomas & Vonn Bell, (4) David Onyemata & (7) Daniel Lasco
The team netted six players in 2006 (their best haul) who ended up in primary starting roles and average three starters per draft year. The Saints have gone five consecutive seasons without drafting a player who was voted to the Pro Bowl and six straight without selecting a 1st team All-Pro. The 7-9’s are making more sense now. Evans is the only All-Pro, drafted by the saints, who is currently with the team. Jordan, Ingram, Morstead, Harper and Evans are the only Pro Bowl Saints draft picks on the current roster.
So, the original question was which is the best Saints draft pick since 2006 and now you have some supporting evidence to make your pick. My pick is - Jahri Evans. Evans has a career Approximate Value (AV) of 102, Colston finished at 72 and Graham is at 50 so far. In all honesty, I had Jimmy Graham as my choice until I looked at the full scope of the Saints draft history under Payton.
It is still early for some of the picks, especially the classes of 2015 and 2016, but up to this point, my choice is made for the best Payton-era draft pick. Who ya got?
As always, thanks for reading and also for listening to the Tee’s Corner Podcast on CSC. Be Cool Who Dats!