The Saints’ 7 Best Draft Picks of All Time

The Saints’ 7 Best Draft Picks of All Time

The New Orleans Saints have won one Super Bowl since joining the NFL in 1967. Their franchise’s all-time leading player is Drew Brees, who signed with New Orleans as a free agent.

All that means is that there is no one Saints draft pick that stands head and shoulders above the rest. There have been some great picks, though, and we’ll be looking at the top seven. In addition to how the player performed with the Saints, where they were drafted, and how long they were with the team, performance was also taken into account.

7. Pat Swilling, 1986

One of the most underrated Saints players of all time, Pat Swilling was selected 60th overall in the third round in 1986. Swilling made five Pro Bowl appearances and two All-Pros in his career, but his most notable achievement was winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1991 after leading the league in sacks (17).

His .71 sacks per game is the best percentage in Saints history (for players with at least 20 sacks). He averaged 10.9 sacks per season with New Orleans, though his only issue is the number of seasons he played. Seven years isn’t a short time, but it’s not necessarily a long time considering the other guys on this list.

6. Morten Andersen, 1982

This is the opposite of Swilling. Morten Anderson played 13 years with New Orleans after being drafted 86th overall in the fourth round of the 1982 draft. He earned two first-team All-Pros, two second-teams, and six Pro Bowl nods during his time as a kicker for the team. He is known as one of the best kickers in the NFL and is now one of only two players who were exclusively kickers to be in the Hall of Fame.

5. Marquis Colston, 2006

Former Saints wide receiver Marques Colston didn’t even make a Pro Bowl in his 10-year career (all with New Orleans). What he did do was win a Super Bowl with the Saints as the team’s go-to receiving option. He also had six 1,000-yard seasons and two more with 900+ yards. He ranks higher on this list because he was drafted 252nd overall in the seventh round.

4. Cameron Jordan, 2011

Is Cameron Jordan a Hall of Famer? Only time will tell. The Saints’ all-time leader in sacks (117.5) is one of the franchise’s best defensive players of the 21st century, if not the best, and he’s expected to continue that streak in Year 14. One of the former 24th overall pick’s most impressive accomplishments is that he’s never played fewer than 16 games in a season. He’s played in 209 games, making him the only two players in franchise history with at least 200, along with Brees (228).

That said, Jordan played through injuries last year and his production dropped off. He made six straight Pro Bowls before 2023 and has made eight in his career. He was also a first-team All-Pro in 2017, and finished fourth in DPOY voting.

3. Rickey Jackson, 1981

The star of New Orleans’ “dome patrol” defense was the 51st overall pick in 1981, Rickey Jackson. The former second-round pick also played 13 years with the team, earning five second-team All-Pro nominations and six Pro Bowls during that span. While Jordan is the official all-time sacks leader, Jackson’s unofficial 123.5 is still the franchise’s best, and Jordan knows it. Sacks weren’t officially recorded until 1982.

Jackson also recorded 40 unofficial forced fumbles, which would place him in the NFL’s top 10 all-time. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.

2. Willie Roaf, 1993

The best tackle in Saints history was drafted eighth overall in 1993. Ironically, New Orleans traded Swilling to the Detroit Lions to move up and draft Roaf. The left tackle was a Pro Bowler in seven of his nine years with the Saints, including two first-team All-Pros and three second-team nods.

The Hall of Famer went on to even greater success with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest Saints players of all time.

1. Jahri Evans, 2006

The team’s top draft pick isn’t even a Hall of Famer…yet. Jahri Evans was drafted in the fourth round at 108th overall by the Saints in their famed 2006 draft class. He went on to play 11 seasons with New Orleans, including four straight first-team All-Pros and six straight Pro Bowls. He was long the best right guard in football and a mainstay of the Saints’ Super Bowl-winning offense.

His draft value, combined with his long track record and consistent high-level performances with New Orleans, make him the team’s best draft pick of all time.