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Moments in Saints History: Mike Ditka’s First Draft
January 26th, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

In celebration of the New Orleans Saints going to their first Super Bowl, we’ll be discussing moments in Saints history for the next two weeks.

You may remember Mike Ditka and Bill Kuharich’s last draft for the New Orleans Saints. They traded their entire draft to the Washington Redskins, so the Skins could draft a bunch of shitty players and LaVar Arrington. Well, their first draft was almost as great a comedy of ineptitude.

The Saints had the second overall pick in the draft that year. They had some enormous holes – the offensive line was something the team wanted to address, and I was psyched to see who they’d plug in. Another bookend tackle to go with Willie Roaf would be outstanding. Or possibly a lockdown corner in Shawn Springs. Great players were going to be available.

Lofty players.

The Saints got none of them, instead trading down with Oakland. Don’t get me wrong, Oakland fucked up too (they took the late Darrell Russell) but rather than stay at #2 and draft Walter Jones, Ditka and Kuharich lock up guard Chris Naeole. Chris Naeole! Who trades down to lock up a fucking guard? LeCharles Bentley was a greater player in every respect (until his knee got Clevelanded) and he went in the second. How bad was this pick? Before dying, Darrell Russell still made the Pro Bowl. And then he died. And was / is still inarguably a better player than Naeole.

Chris Naeole eventually went on to be a¬†serviceable¬†guard for Jacksonville. The rest of the draft sucked for the Saints, too: Rob Kelly, Jared Tomich, Troy Davis, Danny Wuerffel – look, I had heard of Troy Davis and Danny Wuerffel. They had amazing college careers. I think they both ought to go to the college football hall of fame. Nobody in professional football ought to be drafting all the players from the NCAA that I’ve heard of.

Ditka didn’t wear a dreadlocked wig for this draft, but his inability to get a single impact player after a 3-13 season was really why he was fired after just three seasons.


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