View Full Version : Payton's two classes: '06 hit, '07 dismissed

04-25-2008, 04:07 PM

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton holds a philosophy in regards to judging the blessings or blunders of a draft class.

"I think three years goes by and then you can do a proper evaluation of a draft class," Payton said. "When you start trying to evaluate draft classes in Year 1 or 2, you can run into some problems."

But a brief glance at the two draft classes in Payton's tenure displays a glaring contrast from the Saints' 2006 and 2007 draft rosters.

The Saints came away with six starters in 2006 by drafting running back Reggie Bush, strong safety Roman Harper, right guard Jahri Evans and wide receiver Marques Colston, and trades for center Jeff Faine and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas.

Those players, along with the signing of quarterback Drew Brees, rejuvenated a team coming off a Hurricane Katrina-ravaged 3-13 season in 2005 into a team one win away from the Super Bowl.

The 2007 draft class yielded a slew of questionable calls:

Zero starters.

A trade for kicker Olindo Mare whose time in New Orleans was disappointing at best, and he is no longer on the roster.

A trade for a fourth-round pick that resulted in the drafting of running back Antonio Pittman, who ended up being released by the end of training camp.

A first-round pick in wide receiver Robert Meachem, who never wore a uniform during the regular season despite practicing every day.

The Saints gave Indianapolis a fourth-rounder as compensation for the signing of then-restricted free agent cornerback Jason David.

Those moves eventually ended with a 7-9 record for a team entering last season as Super Bowl contenders. Now the Saints claim the No. 10 overall pick in this weekend's draft.

One reason for the 2006 draft class burst onto the scene while the rookies of 2007 didn't bring much of an impact is likely because of the lack of open starting roles.

Basically, every starting spot was filled. The two slots up for grabs were cornerback, which David easily won in training camp, and wide receiver, where Meachem was thought to compete for immediately.