Worst mistake of the last 10 years: 2014 Saints
draft – (Yardbarker)
There are a few free agent missteps you can point to as being the worst mistakes made by the Saints in the last decade. But the 2014 Saints draft tops them all.
Bleacher Report does some great articles like a recent one listing the worst mistake made by each team in the NFL over the last decade. For the Saints they named the free agency acquisition of Jairus Byrd as the team’s worst. I’m going to argue that point.
Byrd was a huge pick up for the Saints in the 2014 offseason. He looked like a no-brainer when the big money was paid out. They signed him to a six-year, $54 million deal. On paper, Byrd looked primed to be the second coming of Darren Sharper. Reality didn’t play out anywhere close to that lofty goal.
He missed most of the 2014 Season for starters. Then, over the next two years, produced only three interceptions. Two of those came in one game against Jameis Winston. He’ll forever be remembered for poor tackling and looking lost in the Saints defense.
There were other free agent busts in the last ten years as well. Branon Browner certainly stands out. Coby Fleener to a lesser degree.
But the worst mistake of the last ten years for the Saints wasn’t in free agency. It was a draft. The 2014 Saints draft to be exact.
The 2014 NFL Draft
Just to show how inexact a science the draft is, immediately after the 2014 NFL Draft, NFL.com graded the Saints draft a B. Only one player from that class had productive time with the Saints. That was wide receiver Brandin Cooks, the first round pick.
After Cooks there were some pretty major miscues. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Khairi Fortt, Vinnie Sunseri, Ronald Powell and Tavon Rooks. In fact, the only production, aside from Cooks, to come from 2014 was with undrafted rookie free agents. That year saw the Saints bring in cornerback Brian Dixon, receiver Brandon Coleman (still with the team) and defensive end Kasim Edebali.
So, a mere four years later, the only player from that entire draft year still with the team is an undrafted receiver who may be on the bubble in 2018.
The Jairus Byrd contract did set the Saints back financially. But missing on an entire draft is worse. the one saving grace out of the 2014 draft is that Brandin Cooks was parlayed into a late first round draft pick in 2017. The player selected with that pick was Ryan Ramczyk. Ryan Ramczyk who is now regarded as one of the best tackles in the NFL after one season.
Not every draft can be the Saints 2017 class. But 2014 will go down in Saints history as one that set the team back for some years to come. In fact, that year was the start of three consecutive losing seasons. That’s hard to pull off with Drew Brees as your quarterback. But it shows how important the right offseason moves are.
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