It’s almost laughable to be writing this for the Saints after their historic 2017 draft class. In all honesty that could go down as one of the single best hauls for a team in NFL history. They got the offensive and defensive ROYs, starters at safety and offensive-tackle, and a handful of players who look to be contributors in the future as well. But even the Saints aren’t impervious to screwing the proverbial pooch every once and a while.
Back in 1999 the Saints traded all of their draft picks to trade up and pick Ricky Williams, and then in 2002 they traded him to the Dolphins. Part of that trade included a conditional pick in 2003 that was eventually upgraded to a 1st rounder. Heading into the 2003 draft they possessed both the 17th and 18th picks in the first round. This was looked at as an opportune moment to get multiple impact players and start to heal some of the damage done by trading for Williams.
But the Saints had other plans, they packaged both of those picks and moved up to 6th overall and selected Johnathan Sullivan the defensive tackle out of Georgia. Sullivan had been a dominant player at Georgia and New Orleans considered him a “can’t miss” prospect. Except he was a huge miss. He played for three seasons, playing in 36 games but only a starter in 16 of them, while registering just 1.5 sacks. The Patriots traded for him but released him shortly after, this would mark the end of his NFL career.
Had they kept both of those picks they could have had their choice of the following players; Willis McGahee, Dallas Clark, Larry Johnson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Charles Tillman, Rashean Mathis, Anquan Boldin, Osi Umenyiora, Lance Briggs, and Jason Witten. That would have definitely been an impactful duo, not to mention all the players they could have had if they hadn’t traded their entire draft for Williams.
While this probably seems gut wrenching to think about when looking back at how bad the Saints defense has been at times over the years, there’s not much to fret over. If the Saints have another draft or two remotely close to as successful as 2017 was the NFL will be looking at the Patriots replacement as the dynasty of the future.