That question is asked, and those debates happen every day amongst sports fans.
Trying to compare players of a common position and era are tough enough. Once you introduce grouping all positions together, regardless of when they played, what the talent pool was or what the rules were during their NFL careers, the answers get arbitrary.
We combined four sources to come up with our list of the Top-100 New Orleans Saints players of all time. Rankings for all players were averages comprised of contributions from pro-football-reference.com (Twitter: @pfref), Jeremy Trottier of the canalstreetchronicles.com (Twitter @ClutchWDN), Billy Gunn of the ‘Taking the Over with Billy Gunn’ Podcast (Twitter & Instagram: @takingtheover) and John Butler of canalstreetchronicles.com and the Saintjohnbutler YouTube channel (Twitter & Instagram: @Saintjohnbutler).
This is our list of New Orleans Saints 90-81:
90: Dave Whitsell, CB (1967-1969)
Whitsell played the twilight of his career in New Orleans and joined the franchise during its inaugural 89: Quinn Early, WR (1991-1995) season. Aside from being a seasoned NFL presence to a new ball club, Whitsell made enough of an impact in three seasons to find his way into the Saints Hall of Fame. Whitsell was also the first ever Saints Pro Bowler.
89: Quinn Early, WR (1991-1995)
Maybe fitting that #89 landed in position 89, Early was one of many Saints’ greats that came directly from the San Diego Chargers. Early played some of his best ball in New Orleans, including his only 1,000+ receiving yard season and 8 touchdowns in 1995.
88: Mike Karney, FB (2004-2008)
A fifth-round draft choice by the Saints in 2004, Karney made an immediate impact on the field. The former 2-time Pro Bowler and All Pro showed rushing and pass catching ability when called upon, but it was his lead blocking for the once All-time leading rusher in Saints’ history, Deuce McAllister that Saints fans remember most. He also blocked for the Rams all-time leading rusher, Steven Jackson.
87: Billy Kilmer, QB (1967-1970)
Along with Dave Whitsell (mentioned above), Kilmer was also another addition from the expansion draft for the New Orleans Saints in 1967. Despite most of his accolades coming after his time in New Orleans, Kilmer put up respectable numbers until he asked to be traded with the understanding that the Saints were going to draft Archie Manning. Kilmer is a Saints Hall of Famer.
86: Tyrone Hughes, KR/PR, CB (1993-1996)
Another Saints Hall of Famer, and a homegrown New Orleans talent, the former cornerback made his name in the NFL returning kicks and punts. Hughes’ most memorable moment in New Orleans was when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game after predicting it before the game. Hughes recorded 304 kickoff return yards and 347 combined punt/kickoff return yards which still stand as NFL records.
85: Bob Pollard, DL (1971-1977)
Pollard was a mainstay on the Saints defensive line during most of the 70’s. Pollard’s play earned him the role of captain later in his Saints tenure and ultimately landed him in the Saints Hall of Fame in 1995. Although sack statistics weren’t recorded during his career, Pollard is credited with 57.
84: George Rogers, RB (1981-1984)
The first overall draft pick in 1981, the Saints selected the former Heisman Trophy winner. Rogers made an immediate splash, rushing for nearly 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie, earning him Rookie of the Year honors. Rogers continued his production when on the field and ran for over 4,000 yards in his 4 seasons in New Orleans. Rogers has a laundry list of accolades throughout his career including being inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.
83: Reuben Mayes, RB (1986-1991)
Like Rogers, Mayes was also a successful running back in New Orleans, an NFL Rookie of the Year and a Saints Hall of Famer. The former 2-time Pro Bowler ran for over 3,000 yards during his time in New Orleans before finishing his career in Seattle.
82: Steve Gleason, ST, S (2000-2006)
Gleason was in the center of quite possibly the most important play in Saints’ history, blocking the punt versus the Falcons in the first game in New Orleans post-Katrina. Aside from his situational play in the Saints’ secondary, Gleason seemed to have a knack for making big plays in big situations.
81: Malcolm Jenkins, S (2009-2013, 2020-2021)
Jenkins was a hard-hitting student of the game. His arrival in 2009 was well-timed and he made a huge impact in the Saints Super Bowl run. Jenkins was also a leader both on and off the field. He would win a second Super Bowl ring with the Philadelphia Eagles before returning to New Orleans to finish his career.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the top-100 list.