by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
Since the arrival of Sean Payton and Drew Brees, The New Orleans Saints have soared to heights never before seen from their franchise, culminating in their Super Bowl victory in 2010. However since that victory in 2010, the Saints have not been able to replicate this feat in the past five seasons. Part of the reason for this has been a lack of production from the past five drafts. Some of this can be attributed to the Saints having the least amount of picks in the NFL; however, a lot of the picks they have made have failed. Overall the Saints have one of the least productive draft turnouts in the entire league during this five-year stretch.
They had had draft misses all around the field but no position has had as many substantial flops as the cornerback position. The biggest of these misses is Patrick Robinson who was a 1st round pick in 2010. He had plenty of chances contributing at cornerback for 5 years with 33 starts but never lived up to a 1st round quality corner. Johnny Patrick, 2011 3rd rounder, and Corey White, 2012 5th round pick, also struggled in their time with the Saints. All three players are no longer with the team in 2015. The Saints tried again by drafting Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, but he was yet another flop at the cornerback position. He was a non-factor his rookie year and was released before the 2015 season. Also the release of Jean-Baptiste means that from the 2014 draft class only Brandin Cooks is on the roster this year. The constant failure of cornerback draft picks is one of the main reasons the Saints have struggled to regain their Super Bowl form.
Also failing to produce on the defensive side of the ball were Martez Wilson, Al Woods, Khairi Fortt. Wilson was a contributor at linebacker for two years but was released during his third season, failing to make a significant impact. Woods and Fortt were both 4th round picks who did not survive their rookie seasons. On the offensive side of the ball, 2010 2nd round selection Charles Brown was the biggest miss in the last five years. Brown started 22 games in four years in New Orleans but struggled in his appearances. The Saints chose not to re-sign him in the 2014 offseason. Nick Toon is another player on the offensive side of the ball who failed to make an impact. Toon was constantly injured and failed to produce when healthy. He was released before the 2015 season and placed on IR.
The Saints have also drafted quite a few good players who have contributed in their time in New Orleans and will be contributing to their 2015 season. The 2011 1st round duo Cam Jordan and Mark Ingram have been very successful picks as both players have a Pro Bowl appearance. Jordan has contributed on the defensive line for every game in his career and has emerged as the probably the best player on the defense. Ingram started off slow and struggled for his first few years even getting booed off the field in 2013. He finally got it going and had a solid end to 2013 with a breakout 2014 making the Pro Bowl. Both players will need to be huge for the Saints in 2015 if they are to return to the playoffs. Brandin Cooks also looks like he will be a solid pick for the Saints as he has showed flashes of his potential during his rookie year. He had a solid rookie campaign that was unfortunately cut short due to injury, but look for him to have a breakout season this year. Cooks was the 1st round pick in 2014 and is the only saving grace from the bomb of a draft class.
One of the more puzzling players picked in the last five years is Kenny Vaccaro. Vaccaro looked to be a star in the making after a fantastic rookie season, but took a big step back after a rough 2014 season. Vaccaro, in all honesty, had one of the worst seasons by any safety in the NFL in 2014. There is still plenty of time for Vaccaro to get it together as he will be starting in 2015, and he will be looking to return to his rookie form.
Finally, the best pick the Saints have made in the past five years is no longer with the team for 2015. This pick was the 2010 3rd round selection Jimmy Graham. Graham was one of the best tight ends in the NFL during his time in New Orleans making three Pro Bowls. However, Graham was shockingly traded to Seattle during the 2015 offseason. Graham will go down as one of the better value picks in the last five years.