With the NFL draft’s first day looming Thursday, The Advocate’s Sheldon Mickles ranks the Saints’ best draft picks — round by round — in franchise history. (Rounds 8 through 17, no longer part of the NFL draft, are compiled into one group.)
1. William Roaf, T (1993/8th overall)
A 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Roaf was one of the greatest players in club history. The 6-foot-5, 312-pounder was the foundation for the Saints’ line for nine seasons. A dominant pass and run blocker at left tackle, he was selected to a club-record seven Pro Bowls from 1994-2000 and was a four-time first-team All-Pro pick. After being traded to Kansas City, he made four more Pro Bowls and four more All-Pro teams, giving him 11 and eight, respectively.
2. Deuce McAllister, RB (2001/23rd overall)
Despite playing in just 97 games, he’s the franchise’s all-time leader with 6,096 rushing yards and 49 rushing touchdowns. A Mississippi native, the 230-pound McAllister became one of the most popular players in franchise history because of his hard-charging style that he used to run over linebackers and quicker defensive backs alike. He had a club-record 27 100-yard rushing games and four 1,000-yard seasons, including a career-best 1,641 yards in 2003, before a series of knee injuries cut short his career.
3. Archie Manning, QB (1971/2nd overall)
Manning was the first “face of the franchise” as the second overall pick of the 1971 draft following an outstanding career at Ole Miss. The problem was the Saints didn’t surround him with a lot of talent and he suffered through some of the franchise’s leanest years in the early 1970s. Despite having to run for his life most of his time, he still ra8nks second in passing yards with 21,734 and was the club record-holder with 115 TD passes until being passed by Aaron Brooks (120) and Brees (284).
4. George Rogers, RB (1981/1st overall)
Rogers rushed for 4,267 yards in just four seasons, including a franchise-record 1,674 yards as a rookie, before being traded to the Redskins following the 1984 season. He had 16 100-yard games, including a 206-yard performance against the Cardinals in 1983 that still stands as the franchise’s single-game record. He topped the 150-yard mark on three other occasions. Rogers led the Saints in rushing each of his four seasons with the team and averaged 4.3 yards per carry for his career with 23 touchdowns.
5. Wayne Martin, DE (1989/19th overall)
Even though he never made the Pro Bowl, Martin was a solid defensive end for 11 seasons. The former Arkansas star racked up 82.5 career sacks while starting 155 of 171 games. He still ranks second on the club’s all-time sack list behind Pro Football Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson, who had 115. A 2003 Saints Hall of Fame inductee, Martin led the team in sacks four times and had a career-high 15.5 in 1992. He twice tied the franchise record for sacks in a game with four.