So, you’re disappointed in the Saints for taking Cesar Ruiz in the 1st round, eh? Had your heart set on a CB, WR, or LB? Grabbing an offensive lineman with the first pick didn’t exactly set your loins on fire?
Well, to keep me from rambling all over the place (as I’m prone to do) let’s stick to LBs for this discussion. Especially considering how the big board played out in the 1st round and most of the high profile names which were targeted by fans and media got snapped up except for a certain LB from “LSU!” who was still on the board at 24.
Yeah, I get it. Some folks wanted the Saints to grab up Patrick Queen. But, thanks to guys like Martez Wilson and Stephone Anthony who were athletic specimens that did absolutely nothing, you have to pardon the Saints for being twice bitten and waaay too shy. Or something like that.
Actually, since Mickey took over as GM from Randy Mueller in 2002, the Saints are 15 times bitten and counting.
Saints Linebackers Drafted Since 2002
Note: For those of you thinking “What about Ninkovich?” he was drafted as a DE coming out of Purdue
Geesh! When the best linebacker the team has drafted during the past 18 years can barely stay on the field; yes, Virginia, the Saints have a problem picking linebackers. My guy Russty swears by Kaden Elliss but as a 2nd year player, he hasn’t established himself yet. So I won’t count him. Yet. And, as of now, the aforementioned Anzalone is trying to get a guest spot on the new M.A.S.H reboot as a tragic victim in the medical unit who stepped on a land mine.
Actually, the Saints do MUCH better at picking up LBs through free agency and trades than they do in the draft. Since 2002 only two of Mickey’s draft picks has started an entire season at LB (Colby Buckwoldt & Stephone Anthony) and those were during losing seasons (2005 & 2015). Only one other player (Kikaha) managed to start at least 10 games at LB and again that was during a losing season (2015).
During the Saints 9 winning seasons since 2002 (8 since 2006) the Saints LB corp has been filled with players acquired through free agency and trades. Darrin Smith, Charlie Clemons, Mark Simoneau, Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle, Jonathan Vilma, David Hawthorne, Curtis Lofton, Parys Haralson, Nate Stupar, Dannell Ellerbee, Craig Robertson, A.J. Klein, and Demario Davis. There’s more but I’m trynna be brief here.
(Oh, and there was also a belt whipping nutbag UDFA who was “a whole dog OUCHEA!” and converted to an edge rusher. You know, because he really couldn’t play linebacker)
Out of all those guys, the only truly great players have been Vilma and Davis. Since 2002 the Saints have not been able to draft ANY linebackers who could supplant what amounted to a laundry list of JAGs (along with a few decent players sprinkled in occasionally).
Sorry, folks. There is no guarantee that things would have been any different this time around if the Saints selected a LB in the 1st round. No matter how high some of you are on Queen. Or Murray, or whoever the hell else that Saints might have skipped over when they traded up to draft some OTHER linebacker you might have never heard of before.
Besides, the Saints went ahead and picked a LB in the 3rd round who seems like he could be a wonderful addition to the list of JAGs who came before. Or, as one astute CSC observer put it....
So, some of y’all should be happy, right?
Anyway, offensive lineman is where the Saints have done a lot better. Sure, they’ve had their misses. But the successes have far outweighed the occasional snake eyes. And the Saints have only missed once with a 3rd round or higher pick on a o-lineman since 2002 – Andy Alleman.
(Yes, the Saints spent a 2nd round pick on Charles Brown but he wasn’t a complete whiff. They got some serviceable use out him before he eventually hit the bricks. Okay, he was a f***ing turnstile at times but I’m trying to be objective here! Y’all want me start in on Brees again!?)
Wait, where was I? Oh yeah….
Here’s the work Mickey’s has done since 2002 when drafting offensive lineman.
Saints O-Lineman Drafted Since 2002
So, yeah. There it is folks. I could ramble on some more and go into detail about all the reasons it was necessary for the Saints to draft an offensive lineman (although that would DEFINITELY lead to me going in on Brees AND Payton) but I’ll just leave this right here.
(What? That was brief. Have y’all seen some of my comments around here!?)