The Advocate continues the countdown to the 2014 NFL draft with the fifth 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. Jahri Evans, G (2006/108th overall)
Evans has been a star since being drafted out of tiny Division II Bloomsburg State. Plugged into the starting lineup in training camp as a rookie in 2006, Evans set a club record for consecutive games started to begin a career (114) before the streak ended last fall. He’s started 126 regular-season games and 10 playoff contests and has helped block for a passing game that’s led the NFL four times and ranked no lower than fourth in his eight seasons. He’s a four-time All-Pro pick and has been voted to five straight Pro Bowls.
2. Morten Andersen, K (1982, 86th overall)
One of 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, Andersen, who played 13 seasons with the Saints, is the franchise’s all-time scoring leader with 1,318 points while being chosen to six Pro Bowls. He set a then-club record in 1987 with 121 points. The “Great Dane” missed just four field goals in 1985 (31 of 35) and ’86 (26 of 30) and is the franchise leader in games played with 196 (200 counting the postseason). He made 302 of 389 field-goal attempts with the Saints.
3. Jermon Bushrod, T (2007, 125th)
After serving as a backup in his first two seasons with the team, Bushrod joined the starting lineup at left tackle in 2009 and was part of the team that won the franchise’s first title in Super Bowl XLIV. He was a solid player that season and for the next three, earning trips to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and ’12 before leaving the team as an unrestricted free agent in the spring of 2013. During his time as a starter, the Saints were honored as the NFL’s top offensive line in both 2009 and 2011.
4. Joel Hilgenberg, C/G (1984, 97th)
A 2006 inductee into the Saints Hall of Fame, Hilgenberg was a versatile offensive lineman who could play either guard spot or center. After serving as a backup in his first three years, he broke into the starting lineup in 1987 when the Saints secured their first winning season and earned their first playoff berth. He was a solid technician as a seven-year starter (1987-93), earning a Pro Bowl berth in 1992 before retiring a year later at 31. He played his entire career with the Saints and appeared in 142 games with 97 starts.
5. Joe Federspiel, LB (1972, 72nd)
Along with safety Tommy Myers, Federspiel was one of the team’s first star defensive players when the Saints were still struggling as an expansion franchise. Federspiel played in 130 games with 111 starts as a middle linebacker. A solid hitter and tackler, he had five interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries in his nine-year career with the Saints. He played one season with the Baltimore Colts and was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1993.