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 20-11:
20: Jim Wilks, DE/NT (1981-1993)
A career Saint and Saints Hall of Famer, Wilks terrorized opposing defenses for 13 seasons in the black and gold. A rare 12th round gem, Wilks is still in the top-10 in sacks for the Saints. Wilks was the ultimate coach’s player as well and was the type of d-lineman to eat up bides up front so the Dome Patrol could do their thing.
19: Aaron Brooks, QB (2000-2005)
Both Brooks and Jeff Blake joined the Saints roster in 2000, becoming the first black quarterbacks in team history. Brooks would go on to lead the Saints to their first ever playoff victory and, ultimately, land himself in the Saints Hall of Fame. Brooks may have also had the strongest arm in team history, which helped him pile up 123 touchdowns and over 20,000 passing yards throughout his career.
18: Joe Horn, WR (2000-2006)
Acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, Horn made an immediate impact when arriving in New Orleans. “Hollywood” piled up 4 Pro Bowl appearances in his 7 seasons in the Big Easy finished his career with nearly 9,000 receiving yards and 58 touchdowns (as well as 58 touchdown celebrations). Horn is another Saints Hall of Famer.
17: Deuce McAllister, RB (2001-2009)
Until recently, McAllister was the all-time leading rusher for the Saints (now second to Mark Ingram). A fan favorite, McAllister was instrumental in the growth of the franchise during his tenure. McAllister missed the entire regular season, but the Saints made sure he was on the roster come playoff time as an honorary captain, securing him a Super Bowl ring. Saints Hall of Famer? Yes.
16: Archie Manning, QB (1971-1982)
The first Saints’ Ring of Honor member of the list, Manning was the original face of the franchise. Despite never having an arsenal of weapons, a consistent coaching staff or a trustworthy offensive line, Manning proved week-in and week-out how valuable a player he was. With all those obstacles considered, Manning still managed almost 24,000 passing yards in an age where passing was not the focal point of any offense.
15: Stan Brock, T (1980-1992)
One of the best first-round draft choices in Saints’ history, Brock was a model of durability, starting 223 of 234 games in his career, 182 of 186 for the New Orleans Saints. Brock just went out and did his job year after year and was one of the key pieces in getting the Saints to their first 4 playoff appearances. Brock is another Saints’ Hall of Famer. Noteworthy, Brock also played in a Super Bowl with the Chargers after he left New Orleans.
14: Jim Dombrowski, G/T (1986-1996)
We have back-to-back legendary offensive lineman for the Saints. Dombrowski played all 11 NFL seasons in his career with the Saints and was another one of those names you could write into the lineup in pen, only missing time in the 1993 season. Like Brock, he was also a fantastic first-round choice in the NFL draft. Also. like Brock, he is in the Saints’ Hall of Fame.
13: Vaughan Johnson, LB (1986-1993)
The first member of the beloved ‘Dome Patrol’ linebacking corps for the Saints has joined the list. Johnson was known as the hardest hitting linebacker of the bunch and had the prototypical build for the position. Johnson was an All=Pro in 1989 and a 4-time Pro Bowler as well. Johnson ate up the inside of the field and was an incredible run stopper. Obviously, he is also in the Saints’ Hall of Fame.
12: Will Smith, DE (2004-2013)
Will Smith was another incredible first-round draft choice for the Saints and was an impact player throughout his time in New Orleans. 5th all-time in sacks for the Saints, Smith could back up the talking he did on the field. Smith is a Saints’ Hall of Famer, Ring of Honor member and accrued a host of personal awards during his time in the NFL. Smith is also a Super Bowl champion.
11: Cam Jordan, DE (2011-Present)
Jordan is the highest ranked active player on the list and should honestly be higher (he was on my list at least). Jordan will most likely finish his career as the Saints’ all-time leader in sacks and when you consider the other names on the list, it’s an incredible display of talent and durability. Jordan is also disruptive in the ground game and has a knack to swat passes out of the air. Another first-round choice that the Saints got right, Jordan is a shoo-in for all of the highest honors the Saints’ franchise can grant a player.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the top-100 list.