The New Orleans Saints had some hits and some misses in past NFL drafts, but their 2017 draft class was a monster homer slammed out of the park.
In fact, the Saints drafted so well that year that many of those 2017 picks ultimately outpriced their stay in NOLA, with former safety Marcus Williams being the most recent player to receive a better deal elsewhere.
Since 2017, the Saints have signed first-rounders Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk to $90-plus million dollar contracts, and they’ve also retained third-rounder Alvin Kamara on a five-year, $75 million deal.
2017 second-rounder Marcus Williams ended up signing with the Baltimore Ravens this free agency on a five-year, $70 million dollar deal, which is more than New Orleans could afford but an absolute steal for the Ravens.
And don’t forget about third-rounder Trey Hendrickson who left the team last offseason to join Cincinnati on a four-year, $60 million dollar contract.
That’s a whole lot of money shelled out to one draft class.
New Orleans Saints’ 2017 draft class proves one of the most successful in recent history
Of course, a player’s success isn’t just measured by how much money they’re making. Look at Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams, who recently signed a four-year, $70 million dollar deal yet hasn’t played up to expectations and has found himself on a team in need of a major rebuild.
One may argue the Saints are in a bit of a rebuilding era themselves as they try to find a franchise quarterback to take them to the playoffs in 2022. Yet their 2017 draftees have proved more than deserving of their lucrative contracts and could be considered the offensive and defensive nuclei of the team in recent years.
Marshon Lattimore nabbed three picks last season, tied for the highest on the team, and also recorded the most passes defended (19) on his way to a Pro Bowl season. Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk is without a doubt the team’s best offensive lineman and elevated the Saints’ offense whenever he was on the field. Despite missing some games in 2021 due to injury, he finished with an 84.1 overall PFF grade. Alvin Kamara was a beast back in the Brees era, and he remained a beast in 2021 as the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon.
As for Williams and Hendrickson who have since found new homes, they competed at an elite level at their respective positions in NOLA and wholeheartedly deserve to get paid their due. The Saints’ salary cap issues prevented them from holding onto many talented players in years past, and Williams and Hendrickson are no exception. Just look at what Hendrickson has accomplished on his Super Bowl-contending Bengals team in 2021, or how Williams can revolutionize a battered Ravens secondary this upcoming season.
Rarely does a team find so many franchise cornerstone pieces in one draft year, but in 2017 the Saints stumbled upon a massive haul of diamonds. Let’s hope 2022 becomes the new 2017.