Deke: Saints Draft class of 2006 was a huge value!
by Deke Bellavia,posted May 3 2014 8:13PM
Since Sean Payton has been in New Orleans, the Saints franchise has set new records on all fronts. In eight seasons, the Saints have been to the NFL Playoffs five times, won 11 or more regular season games in four of the last five seasons, been to two NFC title games, and of course won a World Championship; all in the same span.
You can point at many things as to why these Saints have been so successful, but the draft class of 2006 was the foundation of this success. The Saints made eight draft selections in the 2006 NFL Draft; of those six, the ,pst obviously high-profile selection was Reggie Bush.
Bush fell into the Saints' lap when the Houston Texans decided to go with N.C. State DE Mario Williams. When the name Reggie Bush was called, the excitement began, and then the Saints franchise said goodbye to years of "almost" and "close calls" to become a club that many others now envy. The Saints class of 2006 has so much value across the board, one could argue that that class is the best in Saints history, as well as one of the best the NFL has seen in nearly 10 years. Aside from Reggie Bush, the Saints went on to draft five more players that would become starters on the roster. Did you know that six of the Saints Draft picks in 2006 are still starting players in the NFL Today?
The Saints went on to land S Roman Harper in the second round. Harper made an immediate impact with the Saints, and lasted eight seasons before moving on to Carolina earlier this year.
One of the most decorated offensive linemen in Saints history was taken in the fourth round when the Black and Gold called on OL Jahri Evans. In eight years, Evans is considered one of the best OGs in the NFL.
With their fifth round pick the Saints took DE Rob Ninkovich from Purdue. Ninkovich had good moments in New Orleans, but has seen his success expand greatly. He is now a starter and has been for several seasons with the New England Patriots.
And in the Saints best seventh round ever (and perhaps the one of the best seventh rounds by a club since the league reduced the number of rounds in the draft to seven back in 1994), the Black and Gold cashed in big time.
LT Zach Strief was picked out of Northwestern. Strief became a key utility player along the Saints O-Line and has now locked down the starting right tackle position. And Strief has seen two nice contract extensions with the Saints as well.
Finally, we end with a look at one of the greatest late-round grabs in the history of sports. Little-known WR Marques Colston out of Hofstra came to the Big Easy as a Compensatory Selection. Colston was the fourth-to-last pick with the 252nd overall selection. Marques Colston has been incredible. Colston has earned every major stat in his favor in club history in eight seasons. Marques is hailed as arguably the greatest value pick in Black and Gold history. And he and Drew Brees will go down as one of the top four QB/WR tandems from a production standpoint in the history of the league when it is all said and done.
So a quick recap! Eight players were taken by the Saints in the 2006 Draft. Six of those eight are still in the league and have been productive players in the NFL for eight seasons. And three of the eight players taken in the 2006 draft by the Saints are key veteran players with the club today. Those three players (Colston, Strief and Evans) are all considered some of the best at their positions. Value indeed!