The NFL draft is the lifeblood line to teams in the National Football League.
If you fail in the most important part of adding players to your respective team it shows each Sunday.
For the New Orleans Saints, since raising the Lombardi Trophy for winning the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, the NFL draft has been a graveyard of bad selections.
From 2010-2015 those 6 draft classes produced a grand total of 8 players in defensive end Cam Jordan, halfback Mark Ingram, strong safety Kenny Vaccaro, offensive tackle Terron Armstead, along with the 2015 draft choices of offensive guard Andrus Peat, defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, cornerback P.J. Williams and defensive tackle Tyeler Davison.
The Saints did deal tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks for a quality starting center Max Unger, but 8 players via the draftin six years is just not very good no matter how you evaluate it, and it was a major reason the Saints went 7-9 three straight seasons.
But in 2016 the Saints started to look at things differently and with the help of assistant general manager/college scouting director Jeff Ireland changes were made and his influence on Sean Payton has put the Saints on the fast track in the NFL with a 7-2 mark in 2017.
In 2016 the Saints used their draft choices on defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, wide receiver Michael Thomas, safety Vonn Bell, defensive tackle David Onyemata and halfback/special teams performer Daniel Lasco-now on Injured Reserve after suffering a neck injury versus the Buffalo Bills.
The Saints also were able to land a starting cornerback in Ken Crawley after he went undrafted from Colorado, reserve cornerback De’Vante Harris after he also went undrafted coming out of Texas A&M, wide receiver/return man Tommylee Lewis, another undrafted performer who was recommended to Sean Payton by NFL Hall of Fame head coach Bills Parcells and place-kicker Wil Lutz from Georgia State.
Lutz was released in the final round of cuts by the Baltimore Ravens and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh highly recommended to Payton that he sign the strong-legged kicker.
Then the Saints hit the motherload of players in the 2017 NFL draft.
This draft class looks as though it will seriously challenge the 1981, 1986 and 2006 draft classes by the New Orleans Saints for the very best in team history.
Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is the best cornerback in team history. At a position in which is difficult to master early in a career Lattimore has quickly established himself as one of the elite cover men in pro football.
Offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk looks to be a future Pro Bowl performer at the right tackle position. As a rookie Ramczyk has started at both left and right tackle for the Saints and he played only one year of major college football at Wisconsin.
Free Safety Marcus Williams is a very smart football player with excellent ballhawk skills.
Halfback Alvin Kamara is the Saints version of what the Falcons have in Devonta Freeman as a speed back who runs with power and he is a terrific receiver coming out of the backfield. While wiry-thin Kamara runs with great overall strength and he has the unique skillset to turn power into speed out on the field.
The Saints defensive staff is very high on former Florida outside linebacker Alex Anzalone and he was a starter at the weakside linebacker spot before going down to an arm/wrist injury.
Defensive end Trey Hendrickson is an all-out performer and he has played very well as a situational pass rusher. Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad was very impressive rushing the quarterback in preseason and the team feels as though with more technical work he has a chance to be a starting player in the NFL.
The Saints were also able to pick up former Northwestern slot wide receiver Austin Carr after he was released in the final cut by the New England Patriots, undrafted halfback Trey Edmunds not only impressed the team with his hard-charging rushing skills, but also on special teams and the Saints picked up wide receiver-turned-safety in Justin Hardee after he was cut by the Houston Texans. Hardee has been an impact performer for the team on special teams.
The team also likes the future development of undrafted free agent offensive center Cameron Tom and former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill who they picked up after the Green Bay Packers released him in the final round of cuts.
That influx of young talent has made quite a difference for a franchise that desperately needed to jump-start their football team. The two-year personnel makeover has been the difference for the Black and Gold.
The Saints are not only built for today, but also built for future years.