The Advocate continues the countdown to the 2014 NFL draft with the sixth in an eight-part series on the Saints’ top five selections -- round-by-round -- as chosen by Sheldon Mickles. The series will continue each week until the top five first-round selections are revealed on May 6 -- two days before the May 8-10 draft.
1. Jimmy Graham, TE (2010/95th overall)
In just four NFL seasons, and five years of football total counting his one season in college, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Graham has been a two-time Pro Bowl pick and was voted first-team All-Pro this past season. He has 301 career catches for 3,863 yards and 41 TDs -- all franchise marks for a tight end. While Graham doesn’t always line up as a tight end and doesn’t block much, he’s valued more for his pass-catching skills -- which gives Sean Payton the freedom to line him up all over the field.
2. Pat Swilling, LB (1986/60th overall)
A cat-quick pass rusher, Swilling was one of the league’s best at getting to the quarterback in the late 1980s and early 1990s partly because teams couldn’t double-team both he and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson. Swilling was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1991 when he had 17 sacks, just two seasons after he had 16.5. He led the team in sacks four times and tied for the lead once. He’s third in franchise history with 76.5 sacks and had 24 forced fumbles and was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2000.
3. Tommy Myers, FS (1972/74th overall)
One of the franchise’s early defensive stars, Myers, who was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1989, was a steady player throughout his career. He started 120 of 136 career games at free safety and was a Pro Bowl pick in 1979. He ranks second in club history with 36 interceptions, one behind Dave Waymer. Myers led the club in picks five times. He holds the franchise record for most interception return yards with 621 and had a 97-yard TD return in 1978, a club mark that stood for 31 years.
4. Frank Warren, DE (1981/57th overall)
While not a spectacular player, he was a steady one while playing end and nose tackle for 13 seasons in the 3-4 defenses used by Bum Phillips and Jim Mora. Warren ranks fifth in franchise history with 52.5 sacks -- including 9.5 in 1989. Despite battling weight problems throughout his career, the affable Warren was difficult to stop when he kept his weight down. He ranks third in club history with 189 games played. He died of a heart attack in December 2002, a month after being inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame along with Mora.
5. Hoby Brenner, TE (1981/71st overall)
Like Warren, Brenner was part of the celebrated 1981 draft class -- the first for Phillips -- that produced 10 starters. Brenner held franchise records for receptions (267) and yards (3,849) by a tight end until Graham broke them this season. A solid blocker, Brenner averaged 14.4 yards per catch despite a lack of speed and had 21 TDs. He was one of the more popular players in the locker room and is the franchise leader in games played by a tight end with 175. He was a 2001 inductee into the Saints Hall of Fame.