With the 2017 NFL Draft around the corner, it’s fun to go back and look at some of the best or worst individual draft picks of all time. But what about an entire draft class? Over at ESPN, they recently posted an article (Insider required) ranking each team’s worst draft class year in history.
What they did was use Pro Football Reference’s “Approximate Value” (“AV”) statistic for all players selected by a team in a given year as far back as 1967. The AV for each player by year was only used for those years in which the player played for the team that drafted him. After finding each franchise’s worst (lowest total AV) draft year, those were then ranked in order of worst-to-first. This method produced the “worst” New Orleans Saints draft year as 1968:
The Saints used the No. 7 overall pick on LB Kevin Hardy, who never played a down for New Orleans -- he was awarded to the 49ers by commissioner Pete Rozelle as compensation for the Saints' signing of ex-49ers tight end Dave Parks in the days before unrestricted free agency in the NFL. Of the Saints' remaining 16 picks in 1968, only seventh-round corner Gene Howard ever started a game for the team.
Interestingly enough, the Saints 1968 draft was in a tie for only the 16th-worst of all time (tied with the Atlanta Falcons’ 1996 draft class after they traded their first two picks away for Jeff George and Patrick Bates respectively). The 1968 draft class produced a total of 14 AV for the Saints, not nearly as bad as the zero AV produced in a three-way tie for first: 1989 Los Angeles Raiders, 1989 Minnesota Vikings, and 1976 Washington Redskins.
The other two teams in the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers actually had two of the three best “worst” draft years, with the Bucs in at 29th (1989) and the Panthers 32nd (1998). It should be noted that three of the final four teams (Bucs, Panthers, and Texans, the latter in at 31st) are all relatively young franchises that simply hadn’t had as much opportunity for poor draft years (as compared to a franchise as old as the Redskins, for instance).
Still, for the Saints, the 1968 draft year was a long time ago. In your recent memory, what would you say was the worst draft class for the New Orleans Saints? Let us know in the comments.