NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Our Saints draft analysis continues with a look back at the success and failures of the Sean Payton-led draft classes. We ranked them 1-9 and give a grade on the total impact of the respective group.
Studs: Marques Colston, Jahri Evans
Impact Players: Reggie Bush, Zach Strief, Roman Harper
Rest of the Class: Rob Ninkovich, Josh Lay, Mike Hass
This class will always be the standard for which all of draft classes will be measured with Sean Payton. A foundation for a Super Bowl was started with this draft. Just think of how much more of an impact this class would have had had they kept Rob Ninkovich.
Studs: Terron Armstead.
Impact Players: Kenny Vaccaro, Kenny Stills
Contributors: John Jenkins
Rest of the Class: Rufus Johnson.
Armstead is the next elite player on the Saints roster while Vaccaro is getting closer to becoming a great safety. Kenny Stills had a big impact in the two years he was in New Orleans before he was traded. John Jenkins is in the rotation along the defensive line. All in all, this was a very good draft class.
Studs: Jimmy Graham
Contributors: Patrick Robinson, Charles Brown
Rest of Class: Matt Tennant, Sean Canfield
The best pick was their biggest gamble. Graham was the first truly raw prospect that this regime had ever rolled the dice on and it paid off big time. Both Robinson and Brown were starters at one point in time, though neither materialized to an impact player.
Studs: Carl Nicks
Impact Players: Tracy Porter
Contributor: Sedrick Ellis
Rest of the Class: Demario Pressley, Taylor Melhaff, Adrian Arrington.
The only thing that kept this class from the third spot was the length of the stay of the top two players was too short. Nicks and Porter only last four years in black and gold but made a tremendous impact. Nicks became one of the most dominant guards in the game; Porter came up clutch in the biggest moments. Sedrick Ellis was a contributor on the Saints Super Bowl defensive line though was never the player his draft selection suggested he would be.
Studs: Cam Jordan
Impact Players: Mark Ingram
Rest of the Class: Martez Wilson, Johnny Patrick, Greg Romeus, Nate Bussey.
Jordan and Ingram became the first two Payton first round draft picks to stick around past their rookie contracts. Jordan has become the most consistent defender on the team while Ingram has steadily risen from contributor to an impact player that's gained the trust of his coaches.
Impact: Jermon Bushrod, Robert Meachem
Contributor: Usama Young
Rest of the Class: Andy Alleman, Antonio Pittman, David Jones, Marvin Mitchell
Bushrod was thrown into action during the 2009 preseason and held the left tackle position for four seasons. He even made one Pro Bowl. Meachem had a nice-run of big-play ability when healthy, particularly during the 2009 Super Bowl run. Young was a decent special teamer and spot-starter.
Impact Players: Thomas Morstead, Malcolm Jenkins
Rest of the Class: Stanley Arnoux, Chip Vaughn
The Saints lacked quantity in this class but at least they were able to maintain some quality. Morstead has become a reliable weapon in the punting and kickoff game. Jenkins was a well-respected veteran who at times was a legit playmaker on defense. Still, with only four draft choices with two that had absolutely no contribution, this class was an overall disappointment.
Impact Player: Akiem Hicks
Contributor: Corey White
Rest of the Class: Nick Toon, Andrew Tiller, Marcel Jones.
The bounty draft certainly wreaked havoc on the Saints. Stripped of their second round pick and having traded away their first round selection, the Saints were able to get one impact player in Akiem Hicks, who was a force along the interior of the defensive line in 2013. At some point after that, he fell out of favor with the organization and they shipped him to New England for a reserve tight end.
Impact Player: Brandin Cooks
Rest of the Class: Vinnie Sunseri, Stanley Jean Baptiste, Ronald Powell, Kharii Fortt, Tavon Rooks.
Normally wouldn't put a class that's been through just two seasons on this list but when that class only has two players left on the roster two years later, that's a major problem. Cooks is the only player that could rise to stud status but for now we are calling him an impact player.
Not mentioned: 2015 class, too early for a fair analysis.
The Saints have rightfully earned some of the criticism levied their way for their two worst drafts coming in the last four classes (2012, 2014). However, they haven't been total failures over the last decade. They've been able to compile one excellent class (2006), a couple really good classes (2013, 2010, 2008) and some pretty average ones (2007, 2009).