Since Mickey Loomis took over as the New Orleans Saints General Manager in 2002, he has become one of the best drafters in the NFL. He is responsible for two of the greatest draft classes in NFL history in 2006 and 2017. He landed franchise cornerstone players such as Marques Colston, Zach Strief, Jahri Evans and Roman Harper in 2006. All of these guys played vital roles in the Saints first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Which Draft Class Was Better?— Boot Krewe Media (@BootKreweMedia) April 7, 2023
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Loomis has been known for not being afraid to trade up for their guy, moving up in the draft 24 times in the last 16 drafts. As Saints fans, we have learned to trust Loomis’ judgement when it comes to the NFL Draft, but sometimes he leaves us scratching our heads. Today, we’re going to go over some of the Saints most shocking draft picks in recent history.
Ricky Williams, 1999
Luckily, one of the biggest head scratchers in NFL Draft history doesn’t fall on Loomis’ shoulders, but it still does leave a bad taste in the mouth of Saints fans every time it’s brought up. Of course, we are talking about the Ricky Williams fiasco in 1999.
Saints Head Coach Mike Ditka and General Manager Bill Kuharich decided to trade every single pick in the 1999 seasons to the now Washington Commanders in exchange for the fifth overall pick to select Williams. Unsurprisingly, Ditka and Kuharich were both fired following the 1999 season where the Saints went 3-13 and missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season.
Williams lasted just three seasons in New Orleans where he notched a pair of 1,000-yard seasons. Luckily, the Saints were able to move Williams to the Dolphins following the 2001 season, and in exchange received two first round draft picks. The Saints eventually turned those two first round picks into Charles Grant and Jonathan Sullivan.
Marcus Davenport, 2018
The Saints entered the 2018 draft with the 27th overall pick, but as mentioned earlier, Loomis is always ready to go get his guy, and was already dialing the phone to move up. He did just that, trading up with the Green Bay Packers for their 14th overall pick. Loomis dished out the 27th overall pick and the Saints 2019 first rounder to jump up 13 spots.
Saints fans came into the 2018 draft knowing life after Drew Brees would be coming soon. With reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson falling and having missed out on Patrick Mahomes by one pick the year before, nobody would’ve been surprised to see the Saints take the electric QB, Lamar Jackson. Instead, Rodger Goodell came to the podium and announced the Saints selected Marcus Davenport, a defensive end out of UTSA.
Davenport came into the draft as one of the higher ranked defensive ends but was viewed as a very raw prospect with a lot to learn. Had the Saints stayed put at 27, Davenport very well could have fallen into their lap. Instead, they lost their first in 2019 for a player who’s career has been riddled with injuries. In 63 games played, Davenport has totaled just 21.5 sacks, nine of which came in one season. It’s no surprise the Saints let him walk this offseason.
Payton Turner, 2021
Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, the Saints held the 28th pick. Coming off the heels of Drew Brees’ retirement, the Saints looked towards former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston to keep the team competitive while finding their heir to Brees. Despite their history of trading up, not many people thought the Saints would make a big push to land one of the top five QBs in this draft class.
With Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming off a Super Bowl, it wasn’t shocking to see the Saints turn to a defensive end, especially after Davenport turned in just 1.5 sacks in 2020. What was shocking, was who they decided to pick.
Payton Turner, a 6’6 edge rusher from the University of Houston was projected to go no earlier than round two with ESPN ranking him as their 73rd best prospect in the draft. Fans were stunned to hear Turner’s name read by the commissioner with a multitude of higher ranked defenders still on the board.
Through two seasons with the Saints, Turner has produced just three sacks in 13 games played. Luckily for Loomis, he also drafted Pete Werner and Paulson Adebo in the second and third rounds to help offset his first-round blunder.
With the 2023 NFL Draft right around the corner, there has been a lot of speculation about who the Saints will draft. They’ve visited with many intriguing prospects such as Mazi Smith, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Joey Porter, Hendon Hooker and many others. Hopefully, the Saints can continue their history of drafting well and avoid another draft nightmare.
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