Saints have two of the best draft classes of the 21st century

The New Orleans Saints have often fared well in the NFL Draft, and that’s evident by the organization’s presence on a ranking of 21st century draft classes.
Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints
Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

During the 2024 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints put together a class of prospects that many people believe have a chance to be special. From Taliese Fuaga in the first round to Kool-Aid McKinstry in the second, and Spencer Rattler and Bub Means in the fifth, those four players, alone, have analysts excited.

If the class can actually put it together and have solid careers, it won’t be the first time the Saints had a terrific draft class. In fact, it won’t be the second time either. New Orleans has put together quite a few great draft classes, and that was evident in a recent ranking of draft classes.

ESPN writer Aaron Schatz recently ranked the 12 best draft classes of the 21st century. With classes after 2021 not in consideration, Schatz explained that the criteria was classes with at least four players that had substantial NFL careers. Also, players’ entire careers were taken into account, not just their performance with the team they were drafted by.

With all of this in mind, the Saints had two appearances on the list. The 2017 draft class was ranked at No. 10, and the 2006 draft class topped the list at No. 1.

Saints have the No. 10 and No. 1 ranked draft classes of the 21st century

The dominance of the 2017 draft class is fresh, because it’s still ongoing. Marhson Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, and Marcus Williams were the first three picks and they have all thrived since being drafted. The Saints followed those selections by drafting Alvin Kamara, Trey Hendrickson, and Alex Anzalone. Those names pretty much speak for themselves. New Orleans ended the draft by selecting defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, and even he has had a productive career as a depth piece.

As great as that class is, it’s the 2006 class for the Saints that earned the top spot on this list. New Orleans made eight total selections that year, and Schatz summarized those selections, highlighting, “six different NFL veterans with at least six seasons as a regular starter and 49 or more career Approximate Value points.”

The six standouts were Reggie Bush, Jahri Evans, Roman Harper, Rob Ninkovich, Zach Strief, and Marques Colston. Simply put, “The 2006 Saints drafted both stars and depth, and that's why this is the best draft class of the 21st century.”