How Have The Saints Fared Drafting Defensive Ends?
How well have the New Orleans Saints fared selecting defensive ends in the first round of the NFL Draft?
The 2017 NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday, April 27, and there’s a lot of speculation that the Saints will select a pass rushing defensive end with one of their two (11th & 32nd) first round picks.
Since 1967, the Saints have selected 8 defensive ends in the opening round, with pretty good success.
The position has been kind to them, with five of those selections going on to make the Pro Bowl.
The first two defensive ends that the Saints took in the first round, Kevin Hardy (1968) and Joe Campbell (1977), didn’t pan out. Hardy never played a down for the organization, while Campbell only started for one year.
Since then however, the defensive end position has been really kind to the Saints.
In 1989, the Saints took Wayne Martin, who played 11 seasons with the team, accumulating 82.5 career sacks, and named to the Pro Bowl in 1994.
Martin is one of the more underrated players in team history.
The very next season, the Saints took Renaldo Turnbull in the first round. He played seven seasons in New Orleans, compiling 45.5 sacks, while being named to the Pro Bowl in 1993.
In 1994, Joe Johnson was the Saints’ top pick. He played 8 seasons for them, totaling 50.5 career sacks, while being named to the Pro Bowl twice (1998 & 2000).
In 2002, the Saints took Charles Grant, a 7-year starter, including the 2009 Super Bowl campaign, who compiled 47 career sacks.
In 2004, the late Will Smith, who amassed 67.5 career sacks, was the Saints’ first round pick. Like Grant, Smith, who was an 8-year starter, and a 2006 Pro Bowl pick, was a starter on the 2009 Super Bowl winning team.
The last time the Saints chose a defensive end in the first round was 2011, when they selected Cameron Jordan. In 6 seasons, all as a starter, Jordan has accumulated 46.5 career sacks, and has been named to the Pro Bowl twice (2013 & 2015).
So, picking a defensive end in the first round has turned out to be profitable for the franchise.
If the Saints do pick a defensive end in the first round this year, history is on their side.