What if Wednesday: What if the Saints drafted Lawrence Taylor number one in 1981?

Lawerence Taylor, New York Giants
Lawerence Taylor, New York Giants / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
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Maybe the most slept-on "what if" scenario for the New Orleans Saints comes from Draft Day 1981 that could have changed history for the Saints, and the NFL.

Heading into the 1981 NFL Draft, the perception was that there was a ton of talent at the top, headlined by two prospects, running back George Rogers out of South Carolina, and linebacker Lawrence Taylor out of the University of North Carolina. The New Orleans Saints and new head coach Bum Phillips owned the first pick, and the notion was the Saints would take the best player on the board, who the consensus believed was Taylor (duh).

Phillips had other plans though, as he wanted to build a similar team style-wise to his Houston Oilers teams that enjoyed success a few years prior, starting with a bruising running game. His running back in Houston was Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, (who would eventually come to the Big Easy), and Rogers, the former Hesiman Trophy winner, was seen as a player who could carry that torch in the Bayou. After all, there was a much bigger emphasis on the running game back then.

Long story short, injuries derailed a promising career for Rogers, and Taylor, picked second by the New York Giants, went on to become arguably the greatest defensive player ever to step on the field.

What if the Saints didn't make this mistake on Draft day though? That's the alternate universe we will explore this week.

Before we get into the Saints, we need to look at the NFL at large, because this could cause huge ripple effects to the league as a whole.