It's my duty to go back to being positive after dropping the 5 worst draft picks ever in Saints' history on you this week. So I'm going to give you my favorite picks, but in two segments. I'll start with the top 10 1st round picks today, and then I'll share my top 10 picks outside of the first round, both of which should yield interesting results.
10. Chuck Muncie, Running Back from California, 3rd overall in 1976: Muncie played in the NFL for 9 years, including 4 and a half very solid seasons with the Saints before he was traded to the San Diego Chargers. Muncie made the Pro Bowl three times, but only once as a Saint. His best season came in 1979 where he rushed for a career high in yards (1198) and yards per carry (5.0) with the Saints en route to the Pro Bowl. Trading him the year after his best season was incredibly stupid, but the Saints did feel he had trouble hanging on to the football which 57 career fumbles supports.
9. Will Smith, Defensive End from Ohio State, 18th overall in 2004: He may be getting older now but Smith ended up being a tremendous pick for the Saints. 9 years later he is still on the team as a starter and there is definitely something to say for the mileage he's had with the team. Smith has only made the Pro Bowl once in a very underrated career, but he's had 67.5 career sacks in 9 seasons and double digit sacks twice (10.5 in 2006 and 13 in 2009). Oddly he made the Pro Bowl in 2006 but not 2009, where he was more deserving.
8. Jim Dombrowski, Guard from Virginia, 6th overall in 1986: Dombrowski was a rock solid interior lineman with a very long career as a Saint. He started in his second season full time, and played 11 seasons, all with the Saints. In 151 games played, he started 137. Per wikipedia: "He ultimately played his entire professional career with the Saints and was named to the franchise's 30th and 35th anniversary teams."
7. George Rogers, Running Back from South Carolina, 1st overall in 1981: Like Muncie, Rogers' tenure with the Saints was way too short and he went on to continue to be a star elsewhere. He never did better than his rookie season, though, which was amazing. He finished 1674 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns that season, which earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl and offensive rookie of the year honors. No rookie has ever had more yards in his first season besides Eric Dickerson. He would also make the Pro Bowl in 1982 and rush for over 1000 yards again with the Saints in 1983. He played four seasons with the Saints before being traded to the Redskins where he would play three more years, including twice going over 1000 yards with them as well. He was also a Super Bowl champion during his time in Washington.
6. Joe Johnson, Defensive End from Louisville, 13th overall in 1994: From a pure talent perspective, Joe Johnson was probably one of the best players in team history. He was the perfect defensive end, elite at both stopping the run and rushing the passer. He played 7 seasons with the Saints, including 2 Pro Bowl trips and 12 sack season in 2000. He would then join the Packers where he would finish out his career with two injury plagued years. He finished his career with 52.5 sacks, 50.5 coming with the Saints.
5. Stan Brock, Tackle from Colorado, 12th overall in 1980: Brock is one of the top two or three linemen in team history. He played for the Saints for 13 stellar seasons before finishing out his career with 3 more seasons as a Charger. Brock never making the Pro Bowl remains one of the biggest travesties in the history of the game, because he was truly elite for the entirety of his career. He also started, but lost, in a Super Bowl for the Chargers.
4. Wayne Martin, Defensive End, 19th overall in 1989: One of the most underrated Saints of all time, Martin played all 11 seasons with the Saints but was overshadowed by the "Dome Patrol" which featured the best linebacking core in NFL history. Martin only made the Pro Bowl once in 1994, but posted double digit sack seasons in 5 of his 11 years, including 15.5 in 1992. Martin finished with 82.5 career sacks, second in club history only to Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson.
3. Archie Manning, Quarterback from Ole Miss, 2nd overall in 1971: One of the most famous names in team history, Manning came to the Saints with massive expectations after being a college superstar. Archie was a trendsetter and one of the first QB's to have that explosive running style that really revolutionized the way the position is played, and he and Fran Tarkenton really paved the way for so many mobile quarterbacks you see today. Manning made the Pro Bowl twice as a Saint, including once being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1978. While the teams he played on were always horrible and he was constantly running for his life, everyone accepted he was an elite quarterback on a horrendous team and the Saints sadly never got him any help. Manning played 14 seasons in the NFL including 11 with the Saints. He was the first QB to lead the Saints to a .500 record at 8-8 in 1979, the team's first ever non losing season (first season was 1967).
2. Deuce McAllister, Running Back from Ole Miss, 23rd overall in 2001: Deuce is the top rusher in team history and holds a sentimental place in the hearts of all Saints fans throughout history. Being from not far from New Orleans in Mississippi, Deuce immediately won fans over as a local boy and humble player of incredibly high character and toughness. Deuce was the perfect blend of power and speed and so much fun to watch, capable of running people over, out running them, and catching passes alike. He was a complete player. Deuce was a Pro Bowler twice, in 2002 and 2003, and was on the roster when the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009. He played his entire 8 year career with the Saints, which including rebounding twice from devastating knee injuries to have productive seasons. He ran for over 1,000 yards four times and leads the team in career rushing with 6,096 total yards.
1. Willie Roaf, Tackle from Louisiana Tech, 8th overall in 1993: Drew Brees is the only person that stands in the way of Roaf being the best player in team history. I was fortunate enough to meet him in person this summer as he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as only the second Saint ever behind Rickey Jackson. Roaf has a case for being a top 5, if not better, offensive lineman in league history. He made the Pro Bowl in 11 of his 13 seasons. He played 9 seasons for the Saints and 4 seasons with the Chiefs, and he only missed the Pro Bowl in his first and last year with the Saints. So as a Saint he was a 7 time Pro Bowler. He was also named to the NFL's all decade team for both the 1990s and 2000s, which is unheard of. Can you imagine being the best at your position spanning TWO DECADES?!?! As a little bonus he happens to be from Louisiana, too.
Anyone missing from this list? Do you agree with the order? Any memories to share of these special players?