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A look back at Saints late round draft picks under Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis

It may be hard to have high hopes for this draft with only a handful of day three picks, but the team has has a history of finding late round gems.

New Orleans Saints Introduce #2 Draft Pick Reggie Bush Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Still coming down from the high of the historic 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints are going into this year’s draft with only one pick in the top 100, after trading away this year’s first round pick to move up in the 2018 draft to select Marcus Davenport.

That trade left the team having their first pick in the second round at 62nd overall. However, the team should have a busy day three of the draft, with their picks shaping out like this:

  • Round 5, 168 overall
  • Round 5, 177 overall (via New York Jets)
  • Round 6, 202 overall
  • Round 7, 231 overall (via Cleveland Browns)
  • Round 7, 244 overall

Impact players aren’t normally drafted in these later rounds, but that doesn’t mean that Payton, Loomis, and Ireland can’t find some late round gems with these picks.

Here’s a look back at the late round selections since Sean Payton has been at the helm.

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images


  • Round 5, 135 overall: Rob Ninkovich, DE
  • Round 6, 171 overall: Mike Hass, WR
  • Round 6, 174 overall: Josh Lay, DB
  • Round 7, 210 overall: Zach Strief, T
  • Round 7, 252 overall: Marques Colston, WR

This was one of the Saints’ best draft class ever, and part of the reason the team was able to win the Super Bowl a few seasons later. Ninkovich never caught on with this team, but went on to have a successful career with the New England Patriots. Hass failed to make the team, but earned a spot on the Chicago Bears roster for one season before being released and playing one year in Seattle before he was out of the NFL. Lay also failed to make the team and bounced around between the NFL and USFL for the next 6 years.

Payton did however strike gold twice in the seventh round, selecting future multiple franchise record holder Marques Colston and a long time anchor of the offensive line Zach Strief. Both players helped the Saint’s offense set records and be atop the league season after season.


  • Round 5, 145 overall: David Jones, DB
  • Round 7, 220 overall: Marvin Mitchell, LB

Jones would fail to make the team but would later sign with the Cincinnati Bengals, and would later be traded to Jacksonville before finishing his six-year career in Washington in 2012.

Mitchell become a solid role player for the team for four years, even starting two games in the 2009 season. He signed with the Miami Dolphins after the 2010 season and would play two seasons there before finishing his career in Minnesota in 2013.


  • Round 5, 144 overall: DeMario Pressley, DT
  • Round 5, 164 overall: Carl Nicks, G
  • Round 6, 178 overall: Taylor Mehlhaff, K
  • Round 7, 237 overall: Adrian Arrington, WR

Pressley stayed with the team for 3 seasons, mainly playing as a backup, but contributed meaningful snaps in the 2009 season. He would bounce around multiple teams before ending his career in 2012.

Nicks would be inserted into the starting lineup his rookie year, where he remained until signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. He reached the Pro-Bowl in 2010 and 2011, and helped keep Drew Brees upright during the 2009 championship season.

Kicker Taylor Mehlhaff lost his spot to veteran Martin Gramatica, but was later resigned when Gramatica was placed on injured reserve. He was later released and replaced by free agent Garrett Hartley. Arrington was a big bodied receiver but failed to catch on with the team, spending most of his time on the practice squad.

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images


  • Round 5, 164 overall: Thomas Morstead, P

The man behind one of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history, with his successful onside kick to start the second half, Morstead has consistently been one of the top punters each year in the league. He signed a five-year contract in 2018 that should keep him on the team through 2022.


  • Round 5, 158 overall: Matt Tennant, C
  • Round 7, 239 overall: Sean Canfield, QB

Both players stuck around for two seasons, but neither found a role on the team.


  • Round 7, 226 overall: Greg Romeus, DL
  • Round 7, 243 overall: Nate Bussey, LB

Romeus battled injuries throughout his short career while Bussey spent time on the practice squad but appeared in a playoff game.


  • Round 5, 162 overall: Corey White, CB
  • Round 6, 179 overall: Andrew Tiller, G
  • Round 7, 234 overall: Marcel Jones, OT

White was part of a historically bad secondary his rookie season, and was thrust into the starting lineup his second year due to injuries. His performance was poor and the team attempted to move him to free safety when Jairus Byrd was put on injured reserve. After being released, White signed with the Dallas Cowboys and started a few games at the Nickel position. He would later be released, bouncing around multiple NFL teams before becoming a free agent in the 2018 off-season.

Tiller was able to stick around for one season before being released and bouncing around the NFL before finding a steady role in San Francisco for a couple seasons. He made an return to the Saints during the 2018 off-season, but was released in the pre-season. He last played for the Orlando Apollos of the AAF.

Placed on injured reserve his rookie year, Jones would spend his only healthy year in the Big Easy on the practice squad, before being released and signed to the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. He last played for the San Diego Chargers during the 2016 preseason.


  • Round 5, 144 overall: Kenny Stills, WR
  • Round 6, 183 overall: Rufus Johnson, DE

Another productive wide receiver taken late, Stills spent two seasons in the black and gold, making 95 receptions for a total 1,572 yards. He was the third wide receiver his rookie year, playing behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore. Stills would be traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2015 where he is the number two receiver behind DeVante Parker.

Johnson spent his entire rookie year on the practice squad before being released and signed to the New England Patriots, where he would make the 53-man roster. Unfortunately he was placed on reserve/non-football injury with an illness and would later be released. He was last with the Oakland raiders in the 2017 preseason.


  • Round 5, 167 overall: Vinnie Sunseri, S
  • Round 5, 169 overall: Ronald Powell, LB
  • Round 6, 202 overall: Tavon Rooks, OL

Sunseri would see some game time action his rookie year, before a broken arm landed him on injured reserve. His second season never got off the ground, as a knee injury once again landed him on injured reserve. He later was signed to the New England Patriots practice squad, was released, and signed to the San Francisco 49ers practice squad. He now is a graduate assistant at his Alma mater Alabama.

Both Powell and Rooks lasted only one season on the team, with both bouncing around the NFL for the next few seasons. Powell last played for the Orlando Apollos of the AAF.

New England Patriots vs New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images


  • Round 5, 148 overall: Davis Tull, OLB
  • Round 5, 154 overall: Tyeler Davison, DT
  • Round 5, 167 overall: Damian Swann, CB
  • Round 7, 230 overall: Marcus Murphy, RB

Tull spent his lone season with the team on injured reserve before being waived the following year. Tyeler Davison played his first four years for the team, becoming the starting one-technique defensive tackle. He recently signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

Cornerback Damian Swann seemed to be finding a nice role on the squad, before suffering three concussions within 9 weeks that forced the team to place him on injured reserve. Suffering another concussion the following year, Swann was placed on injured reserve again and eventually released. He last played for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF.

Murphy had the look of a late round Sean Payton running back but was never able to find a meaningful role in the offense. He currently plays for the Buffalo Bills.


  • Round 7, 237 overall: Daniel Lasco RB

Another late round running back who found a role on special teams, Lasco spent two seasons on the team. His second season was cut short when he was taken off the field on a stretcher when he made a head-first collision attempting a tackle on a kickoff. He would be placed on the PUP list at the beginning of the 2018 season, before ultimately being waived this off season.

History shows that the team will most likely use some of these picks to move up in the draft, but they still could find a few gems like they did with Colston, Strief, and Davison.