New Orleans is facing some very important decisions with their eight selections in the upcoming draft, and could use some of that 2017 pick magic to help them remain contenders in the league. It might be hard to see them coming out of the draft with eight actual players because of their aggressive trade tendencies, and they have some big needs to address. We previously gave some thoughts on the worst Saints draft pick from the past five years, and it's time to talk about the best ones. Here's some thoughts from our Saints News Network team.
Kyle T. Mosley
This one is easy, Alvin Kamara. Kamara is on a trajectory to become a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Each year, their star running back keeps setting new records. Most of all, his efforts have saved New Orleans in several close games.
The Saints have drafted remarkably well over the last five years. Players like Michael Thomas, Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata, Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, Alvin Kamara, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Erik McCoy have been added to form the nucleus of one of the NFL's most talented rosters.
My choice here would be Kamara by the slightest of nods. You expect to hit on first and second round picks, but Alvin had slipped under the radar because of a lack of use at Tennessee. Kamara instantly made the entire New Orleans offense more effective because of his dynamic versatility.
I think the easy and safe pick here is Alvin Kamara. The Hall-of-Famer start to his NFL career could even start the conversation of best third round pick of all-time, but I am going to go in another direction with a member of the same historic 2017 draft class.
I can still hear my father begging for the Saints to take offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson with the second overall selection of the 2006 NFL Draft… and while they took Reggie Bush, who myself and most of Who Dat Nation wanted to see selected, my father stood by the key to finding a long-term piece to the offensive line. The Saints got that in the first round 11 years after the 2006 NFL draft with Ryan Ramczyk.
In his first four NFL seasons, Ramczyk has served as one of, if not the best, right tackles in football. He ranked as PFF’s top run-blocker in consecutive seasons in 2018 and 2019, along with being named to an All-Pro first team in 2019.
The key to any successful team is building inside out, particularly in the draft. And while having a generational talent like Kamara in your backfield is a huge part of creating a winning culture, without winning the war in the trenches winning games becomes much harder. Which is why Ram earns my vote for the Saints best pick over the last five years.
The consensus pick probably has to be Alvin Kamara, but Michael Thomas deserves some accolades in this discussion too. Yes, he was drafted higher than Kamara, but that was honestly just 20 picks apart in separate drafts (47th vs. 67th). Their career AV's (approximate values) are relatively close, with Thomas coming in at 58 and Kamara at 52. Thomas has two First-Team All-Pro honors (2018, 2019) and three Pro Bowl selections, while Kamara has two Second-Team All-Pro honors (2017, 2020) and four Pro Bowl selections. Kamara won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017, while Thomas took down the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2019.
Had Thomas not had such a disappointing and down season in 2020 due to mainly to injury, then maybe a more solid argument could be made on his behalf going up against Kamara. The way Alvin Kamara bounced back from a very tough 2019 was something the Saints needed, and no one could have filled that void like Kamara did. Thomas will have the same opportunity in 2021 to do the same.
No matter how you look at it, both Kamara and Thomas brought something to the Saints that had not exactly been seen in quite some time, and that's dominance at the position.