Ranking Saints’ biggest NFL draft gems of the last decade

The New Orleans Saints have a habit of finding top-flight talent in the later rounds of the draft. Let’s look at some of their best finds in recent years.
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The 2024 NFL Draft is just around the corner, and the New Orleans Saints have a knack for finding great talent in the middle rounds. Saints legends like Jahri Evans, Terron Armstead, and Jimmy Graham all were drafted in the third round or later. Even Marques Colston, the best receiver in franchise history, was a seventh-round selection taken only three picks ahead of Mr. Irrelevant.

The draft's first two rounds are loaded with NFL-caliber talent, with the vast majority of the players selected being expected to make the final 53-man roster. Things get dicier in the third round; these are boom-or-bust players who pose a hefty risk but also carry weighty rewards.

With the Saints having such a strong mid-round track record, who were the biggest gems they dug up in the last 10 years?

. player. 15. PA. Cornerback. Paulson Adebo. . Paulson Adebo. 2021 Round 3, Pick 76. 4

Paulson Adebo left a bit to be desired in his 2019 college tape with Stanford before opting out of the 2020 COVID-19 season. This likely hurt his stock in favor of prospects who were actually playing, and the Saints snatched Adebo up with the 12th pick in the third round, 76th overall. Though the jury is still out on how his career will look, getting the long-framed ballhawk this late is a steal.

The 6-foot-1 cornerback spent his rookie season starting opposite Marshon Lattimore, and quickly solidified the two of them as a menacing duo in the defensive backfield. In his NFL debut against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the 2021 season, Adebo broke up a pass, hauled in his first interception, and logged two solo tackles while playing 100% of the defensive snaps. He finished his rookie year with eight passes broken up and a team-lead-tying three interceptions, while his 55 solo tackles were tied with Lattimore for the second-most on the team.

In 2022, he didn't haul in any picks, but still managed to break up seven passes and post 60 total tackles (51 solo). It was his 2023 campaign that saw him truly break out as a staple for New Orleans where he logged career-highs in most major statistical categories. He forced and recovered his first two fumbles, led the Saints with 18 passes defended, tied for the most interceptions with four, and was tied for the second most solo tackles with 60.

Adebo has blossomed into a mainstay in the starting lineup opposite Lattimore, who will continue to mentor the young ballhawk. A handful of Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods seem to be in Adebo's future, and he will continue to give quarterbacks and wide receivers fits going forward in his career.