In this study I will be looking at the New Orleans Saints drafted players between 2007 and 2011, which will be 5 years worth of draft picks. The most recent picks will have had 5 years in the league with which we might fairly evaluate their careers. I counted back from there to give us 5 years of draft data, intentionally leaving out 2006, since that was an excellent draft for the Saints that year. I was curious to see just how good or bad the drafting has been since that first great draft.
This study is based on data from pfref.com. I’ll only be looking at the top 300 players and how many the Saints were able to put into that top 300 for each set of selective criteria. Since 300 / 32 = 9.375, if the Saints get 9 players in a set of 300 I’ll call that average, 10+ above average, and 8 or fewer to be below average.
Games Started = 7 (below average)
Games Played = 7 (below average)
*Career AV = 8 (below average)
*Career AV is a stat provided by pfref.com. This is a number assigned to each player that gives his approximate value, providing a way to compare careers at different positions. For example, did Player A (a guard) have a better career than Player B (a receiver)? The Career AV stat is an attempt to make such a comparison.
Pro Bowlers = 6 (above average)
I had to treat this stat differently since fewer than 300 drafted players between 2007 and 2011 made the pro bowl at least once. Only 133 of them made at least one pro bowl. Since 133 / 32 = 4.15, 3 or fewer would be below average, 4 would be average, and 5+ would be above average. Saints had 6 pro bowlers drafted between 2007 and 2011, which is well above average. These were Jimmy Graham, Jermon Bushrod, Carl Nicks, Mark Ingram, Cam Jordan, and Thomas Morstead.
All Pros = 2 (above average)
Similar to the pro bowlers stat, there weren’t 300 players that made the all pro 1st team in these 5 years of drafts. In fact, only 50 of these players made first team all pro, and the Saints had 2 of those 50. Since 50 / 32 = 1.5625, 1 or fewer would be below average, and 2+ would be above average. Saints had 2 all pros (Carl Nicks and Jimmy Graham), putting them above average.
Saints were below average in their drafts when it comes games started, games played, and career AV numbers, but were above average in pro bowlers and all pros. There were 1275 players drafted in those 5 years, but the Saints only had 29 of them whereas the average team had 1275 / 32 = 39.8438 of them. That’s 10 fewer draft picks than what the average team had over this 5 year span, coming out to about 2 fewer picks on the average year. With that kind of handicap it’s not hard to see why the Saints were below average in some of those categories. The good news is the Saints did relatively well in getting pro bowlers and all pros with those picks they did actually use.
Why would the Saints be 2 draft picks below the *average* team per year? Keep in mind this was prior to the 2 picks taken away due to bounty gate. There are 2 reasons. Firstly, the Saints don’t get many compensatory draft picks, if any, due to their heavy usage of free agency. Secondly, the Saints like to wheel and deal on draft day, typically moving up in the draft at the expense of draft picks or trading draft picks for veterans.