Dec 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell (21) in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints 2006 Draft Flashback - Weaknesses?

After the conclusion of the 2005 season, the New Orleans Saints franchise approached much uncertainty. Owner Tom Benson contemplated moving the team, as the devastation from Hurricane Katrina left the team without a home, so to speak. The NFL would announce on February 5, 2006 that the Superdome would reopen on September 24 when the Saints hosted the Atlanta Falcons.

The New Orleans Saints arguably had one of their best drafts in their franchise history in 2006. This was the year that started the turnaround. Sean Payton and Drew Brees were the first two to enter the equation, and paired with a host of existing/new talent and rebuilding, the Saints became winners.

When you think about the players that have flourished throughout the years on the New Orleans Saints, how often do you remember the ‘knocks’ or ‘negatives’ against them in their scouting profiles? Today, we’ll highlight the short list of remaining players from 2006, but let’s first re-visit that draft class.

Reggie Bush, RB (Round 1, 2nd Overall)
Roman Harper, S (Round 2, 43rd Overall)
Jahri Evans, G (Round 4, 108th Overall)
Rob Ninkovich, DE (Round 5, 135th Overall)
Mike Haas, (Round 6, 171st Overall)
Josh Lay, DB (Round 6, 174th Overall)
Zach Strief, T (Round 7, 210th Overall)
Marques Colston, WR (Round 7, 252nd Overall)

Aside Ninkovich, Haas, and Lay, each of these players played a key role in the Saints Super Bowl run in 2009, and will always be remembered for their contributions in helping turn the New Orleans Saints franchise turnaround. Let’s look at the three remaining players: Jahri Evans, Zach Strief, and Marques Colston.

Jahri Evans (Bloomsburg)
2006 – Round 4, Pick 11, Overall Pick 108

What They Said (via CBS):

Has a big frame and natural strength, but needs to add more muscle tone and bulk … Has good straight-line speed, but is too stiff in his hips to generate fluid change of direction … Has a devastating hand punch, but lacks good hand placement technique that results in some of the slippery defenders eluding his arm swipes (see 2005 Shippensburg and Kutztown games) … Plays with good aggression, but will lean into the defender late in games when he tires … Struggles vs. the speed rush, as he does not have the loose hips and lateral movement to mirror (could be better off at guard) … Late off his stance and will take false steps when having to pull and trap … Needs to improve his angles and footwork trying to neutralize linebackers in the second level … Not always quick to recognize stunts and blitzes.

Where They Had Him Projected: Early Seventh Round

Overview: Jahri Evans has evolved into one of the best to play at his position. Up until the 2013 season, Evans had started every single game for the Saints. Evans, who will turn 31 in August, has a laundry list of accomplishments in his career: 5× Pro Bowl (2009-2013), 5x All-Pro (2009-2013), 2x Madden Most Valuable Protector (2009, 2011). Evans is locked up on the roster until 2016. In all honesty, Evans should retire a Saint, be an automatic addition to the Saints Hall of Fame, and should receive a strong consideration as a first ballot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Zach Strief (Northwestern)
2006 – Round 7, Pick 2, Overall Pick 210

What They Said (via CBS):

Has had weight issues in the past and even though he dropped more than 20 pounds, his frame is still pear-shaped and lacks muscle definition … Gets too high in his stance and narrows his base to be effective running long distances … Slow-twitched type who might be a better fit at guard due to his problems containing the quicker edge rushers (needs to lock on immediately or his opponent quickly slips off his blocks) … Has no explosion coming off the snap and lacks the agility to adjust on the move … Does not have the flexibility or lateral movement to slide back quickly in pass protection … Uses his long arms to make reach blocks, but his slow feet let the smaller defenders gain penetration on the wide rush.

Where They Had Him: Undrafted Free Agent

Overview: Strief spent five years backing up Jon Stinchcomb, but finally got his chance in 2011. The Saints never looked back. Strief has been an incredible anchor on the offensive line (you can take the figuratively and literally). It appeared that Strief would be lost to free agency this season, but Mickey Loomis was able to lock Strief up until 2019. Strief is a very underrated player in the league, but as per Pro Football Focus’ grade of +28.9, he should never be ignored.

Marques Colston (Hofstra)
2006 – Round 7, Pick 44, Overall Pick 252

What They Said (via CBS):

At his maximum weight for a receiver (any more bulk might dictate a move to tight end) … Will throttle down and observe the action when he is not involved in the play … Has good timed speed, but because of his long stride and inability to stay low in his pads, he can’t generate the burst needed to separate on long routes … Lacks plant-and-drive agility, spending too much time rounding his cuts and gathering at the top of the route … Has had ball concentration issues that resulted in several costly fumbles … Does not have the second gear needed to separate and turn a small catch into a big gain … Needs to explode out of his cuts better and this is caused mostly when he fails to drop his route in his patterns … Has large hands, but will sometimes short arm going for the ball in a crowd or double catch (see 2005 Northeastern and Richmond games).

Colston is an interesting prospect because of his size and timed speed. He needs to show more explosiveness in his burst and develop better consistency. He is prone to mental lapses on the field and while he is a hard worker, he is not regarded as leadership material. He needs to be pushed at times, as he tends to get lazy, but overall, he has been a good program player. Based on his size/speed ratio, if he continues to run well in private workouts, he could sneak into the mid-to-late round draft picture.

Where They Had Him: Undrafted Free Agent

Overview: Marques Colston is the franchise leader in receptions (607), yards (8,337), and touchdowns (63). He was heralded by some as the ‘steal’ of the 2006 draft. Did you know that Colston holds an NFL record for most receptions in a player’s first two seasons? Along with quarterback Drew Brees, they’ve developed into arguably the best duo in Saints franchise history. Colston is always quiet, never gloating or flaunting after making big plays or scoring touchdowns. He’s just a short 1,663 yards away from joining forty other players who have 10,000 yards receiving or more in their career. Need I say more? Mr. Reliable. Quiet Storm.

What do you like most about the players remaining from the 2006 draft? How big of an impact do you see them making this season? Did you honestly believe that these players would make such an enormous impact when they were drafted? Sound off below!

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Tags: 2006 New Orleans Saints New Orleans Saints Sean Payton

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