The Advocate begins the countdown to the 2014 NFL draft with an eight-part series on the Saints’ all-time top five selections -- round-by-round -- as chosen by Sheldon Mickles. The series begins with Rounds 8 through 17, which are no longer part of the draft, and continue each week until the top five first-round selections are revealed on May 6 -- two days before the May 8-10 draft.
Rounds 8 through 17
1. Danny Abramowicz, WR (1967, 17th round/420th overall) In the Saints’ inaugural draft, Abramowicz, a slow wide receiver from Xavier (Ohio), was almost an afterthought as their third-to-last player picked that spring. Still, he became their first star player when he blossomed into an All-Pro in 1969. He had 73 receptions for 1,015 yards and seven TDs that year and had 309 catches for 4,875 yards, averaging 15.8 yards a catch, with 37 TDs from 1967-73 before being traded. He and Archie Manning were the first two players inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1988.
2. Jim Wilks, DE/NT (1981, 12th round/305th overall) A member of the Saints’ famed 1981 draft class that produced 10 starters, Wilks, who played at San Diego State, was discovered when team officials were scouting another player at the school. He turned into a steady player who appeared in 183 games and started 154, playing end in a 4-3 scheme and inside at nose tackle in a 3-4 from 1981-93. He had 45.5 career sacks to rank ninth in franchise history with a career-high eight in 1983, which helped earn him a spot in the Saints Hall of Fame.
3. Bob Pollard, DE (1971, 11th round/262nd overall) Like Abramowicz, Pollard was another of the team’s early stars when they routinely lost more games than they won. Pollard, a star at Weber State in Utah, was a fierce pass-rusher and stalwart of the defensive line from 1971-77 before quarterback sacks became an official NFL stat. A seven-year starter, he played in 92 games with 90 starts and was credited with 12 fumble recoveries -- returning one for a touchdown -- before being traded to the then-St. Louis Cardinals in a move that was very unpopular with the fans.
4. Toi Cook, CB (1987, 8th round/207th overall) A smart, instinctive player from Stanford, where he also played baseball, Cook learned the ropes for two seasons before becoming a five-year starter during his stay with the Saints from 1987-93. He started 75 of 101 games and had 16 interceptions to rank seventh in club history. A first-year starter in 1989, he had three interceptions and matched that total in 1991 when the Saints ranked second in the NFL in total defense. He had a team-leading six picks in 1992 when they ranked second in total defense and scoring defense.
5. Hokie Gajan, FB (1981, 10th round/249th overall) A former LSU standout, Gajan was a crowd favorite because of his bruising running style and willingness to open holes for running backs. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve, Gagan was a dependable ball carrier who averaged 5.4 yards a carry from 1982-85 before knee injuries cut his career short. In 1983, he averaged 5.1 yards per attempt and the next year averaged 6.0 yards a carry in netting 615 yards with five TDs. That season, he also caught 35 passes for 288 yards and two scores.
NEXT WEEK: Round 7