On Tuesday, we detailed what was and what could have been in the NFL drafts of 1967, ’68 and ’69 for the New Orleans Saints.
Today, we take a look at 1970, 71 and 72.
1970–Drafted Ken Burrough in the first round, 10th overall from Texas Southern. You have to give the Saints credit–they picked a really talented player. The problem was that they kept him only one season and traded him to Houston. All he did with the Oilers was to make two Pro Bowls and to lead the league in receiving yards in 1975.
Somehow, the Saints only managed to complete 13 passes to Burrough in 1970. He would go on to be one of the top deep threats in the league in 11 seasons with Houston, catching 408 passes for 47 touchdowns. The Saints ended up with an aging fullback in Hoyle Granger in the deal, along with two others you have never heard of and will never hear of.
1971–The Saints took Archie Manning second overall in the first round. You certainly cannot argue with the pick, though Manning could since he ended up with a bad franchise and got beat up for 11 years.
With the 31st overall pick in the second round, the Saints chose tackle Sam Holden of Grambling. Simply put, Holden could not play. He played in just nine games with New Orleans and was never seen again in the league.
Three picks later, the Pittsburgh Steelers chose linebacker Jack Ham, who went on to win four Super Bowls, was a six time first-team All-Pro and went to eight Pro Bowls as one of the great linebackers in NFL history. Ham was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
1972–The Saints choice guard Royce Smith of Georgia eighth overall in the first round. Smith spent two years with the Saints, playing in 24 games, starting 13 but never coming close to performing like a first-round selection.
Five picks later, the Pittsburgh Steelers continued their amazing talent evaluation and acquisition by drafting Franco Harris out of Penn State. Harris won four Super Bowls, was a Super Bowl MVP, a first-team All Pro, earned nine Pro Bowl honors and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At least one team in the black and gold got it right.