Here’s your link to the data used in this post, credits to pfref.com, as per usual.  Great site.  If you’ve never tried it out, you owe it to yourself to give them a look.

Grading the Saints’ draft, 3 years later, which means we’re looking at the 2014 draft.

#20 Brandin Cooks
#58 Stanley Jean-Baptiste
#126 Khairi Fortt
#167 Vinnie Sunseri
#169 Ronald Powell
#202 Tavon Rooks

#27 Brandin Cooks turned out to be a very good player, so you might think A+ for this pick, but there are a couple things to consider that I will use to deduct something from that grade. Firstly, the Saints had to trade up to get him, so that detracts somewhat from the pick. Also, they were expecting to get a dynamic, exciting punt returner, too, which never materialized. In fact, he was awful in the punt return game. Another point to consider is the Saints traded up from a position where they could have gotten Kelvin Benjamin, who is arguably an even better player than Brandin Cooks.  (Overly generous homer) Grade: A-

#58 Stanly Jean-Baptiste. I just looked up SJB’s career stats. Appeared in 4 games with the Saints in 2014, 0 starts. Nothing after that. The next pick in that draft was Jack Mewhort, a 3 year starter at Tackle for the Colts. What’s more, 2 picks later in the same draft the Panthers selected DE Kony Ealy, who has appeared in 47 games in those 3 years and has racked up 14 career sacks. 3 picks later, Jaguars take Allen Robinson, 2015 pro bowl WR. 4 picks later the Patriots took Jimmy Garoppolo, and 5 picks later the Dolphins took Jarvis Landry. Not sure if an F grade does this pick justice. Grade: F-

#91 John Brown. Wait a minute, Mark… The Saints didn’t draft this guy. You’re right, he was part of the deal to get Brandin Cooks. Saints gave Arizona this 3rd round pick in order to move up from #27 to #20 to get Cooks. Brown hasn’t set the world on fire (152 catches for 14 TD’s in 22 starts and 46 game appearances), but it would have been something. Anyway, the Saints might not have made the same pick at #91 that the Cardinals made, so it’s really apples and oranges. They might have taken Trai Turner, a 3-year starting Guard for the Panthers taken at #92, or maybe Devonta Freeman the RB Atlanta took at #103. Grade: Incomplete

#126 Khairi Fortt. Fortt’s career consisted of 3 game appearances in Jacksonville with a grand career total of 1 tackle. But, hey, this was a 4th round pick, what do you expect to get that late in the draft? Well, the reality is there weren’t that many good picks on the board that went in the 4th round after Fortt’s selection that year. Tre Boston, DB, was taken 2 picks later by the Panthers. He has started 16 games for them, racking up 3 INT’s and 2 sacks. 4 picks later, the Patriots got James White, RB, who has 2 rushing TD’s and 9 receiving TD’s for them. Not great players, either one, maybe, but their teams got a lot more production out of them than the Saints got out of Fortt.  And keep reading to see more on best available players still on the board for each of these picks.  Grade: F-

#167 Vinnie Sunseri. Just for kicks, let’s take a look at Vinnie’s career stats to date. In 2014, appeared in 9 games with the Saints, had 3 tackles and 2 assists. Spent 2015 on IR. In 2016, appeared in 6 games for the 49er’s, had 2 tackles. Not looking too good for Vinnie’s chances, but at least he’s still (as of now) on a roster in the NFL and at least (unlike the above 2 Saints’ picks) still has some kind of a chance to perhaps have a career of some sort in the NFL. Let’s now look at what the Saints passed up to get Sunseri with that pick. Just 2 picks later the Saints could have had Ronald Powell. Wait, the Saints *did* get Ronald Powell… I’ll cover more on what the Saints passed up when I look at Powell below. Grade: D (my cupeth overfloweth with generosity here)

#169 Ronald Powell. Powell’s career stats: Appeared in 14 games with the Saints in 2014 and recorded 1 tackle, 1 assist. That, friends, appears to be a wrap on Powell’s career. If memory serves, this was the guy out of Florida who had been a 5 star recruit coming out of high school, but who had never lived up to expectations. That year in the 5th round a better pick still on the board would have been DE Devon Kennard, taken by the Giants 5 picks later, who has started 24 games for them, and who has 1 INT and 5.5 career sacks. Those are not great numbers, but they beat what Powell or Sunseri has done by a mile. A pick after that, the Ravens took Guard John Urschel, who has started 13 games for them. Grade: F-

#202 Tavon Rooks. Here is a look at Tavon Rooks’ career stats. (Right here in between these parentheses is where his career stats are at.) Did you miss those career stats? Go back and look again. Okay, let’s not be too judgemental about a 6th round pick at #202. Not that many gems to be found so late in a draft. 3 picks later, the Jaguars took Center Luke Bowanko, who started 14 games for them so far. 5 picks later, the Broncos took offensive lineman Matt Paradis, who has started 32 games for them. 7 picks later, the Jets took WR Quincy Enunwa, who has started 19 games for them and has 80 catches for 1172 yards and 4 TD’s and who is beginning to emerge (in my opinion) as a playmaker for that team. Grade: F

So, let’s recap our 20/20 hindsight 2014 draft grades:

#20 Brandin Cooks A-
#58 Stanley Jean-Baptiste F-
#126 Khairi Fortt F-
#167 Vinnie Sunseri D
#169 Ronald Powell F
#202 Tavon Rooks F

Overall grade: F

Best players passed on for each player selected.

Cooks at #20 (Derek Carr, #36, but arguably Cooks filled a bigger need) Best WR still on the board, Jarvis Landry, #63, who has thus far had a very slightly better career than Cooks. (more catches and more yards, but fewer touchdowns)  Kelvin Benjamin deserves mention here, but I’m going by objective Career AV stats on this, and Benjamin missed a year due to injury, which hurt his stats for the purposes of this little trip down memory lane.

SJB at #58 (best player still on the board was Devonta Freeman, taken at #103, followed by Jarvis Landry, taken at #63, then Justin Britt, 3 year starting Tackle for Seattle, at #64.)

Fortt at #126 (best player still on the board at that point would have been LB Telvin Smith, 3 year starter for Jacksonville, taken at #144. He has 4 INT’s and 5.5 sacks so far in his career.

Sunseri at #167 (best player still on the board at that point was Zach Fulton, 2 year starter at Guard for Kansas City)

Powell at #169 (besides Fulton, next best option would have been Charles Leno, 2 year starter at Tackle for the Bears, taken at #246.)

Rooks at #202 (best option, not counting Fulton or Leno would have been Matt Pardis, 2 year starting offensive lineman for the Broncos, taken at #207, or maybe Andre Hal, DB taken by Houston at #216, who has 6 INT’s and 1 sack in 2 years as a starter.)

As a bonus, recall the Saints gave up #91 in the Cooks trade, so let’s look at best available player after #91. That would have been Devonta Freeman, who went at #103, followed by Trai Turner at #92.

Bear in mind this is a 20/20 hindsight look at the draft that was.  It’s much easier to look in retrospect and point out which players turned out to have better careers.  In defense of the SJB pick, there were a lot of mock drafts by the media experts that had him going in the 1st round that year.  The draft is far from an exact science.

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