The New Orleans Saints’ 2017 NFL Draft was excellent, and perhaps could be one that is looked back for the talent they were able to find. The best way to build and sustain success in the NFL is to continually draft well. Not every time does this though.
Even the best, most well-run teams go through years where their draft picks end up not working out. Some of the best General Managers in the NFL struggle with this sometimes. To an extent, drafting players is a giant guessing game.
Sure, scouts can write their long reports on why this player would or wouldn’t be a perfect fit, but the truth is, there is no perfect science. However, during the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints seemed to have figured out the formula of drafting players.
Their haul might be one of the better ones that the league has seen this decade. We’re now five years removed from that draft, so how are those players doing today?
New Orleans Saints 2017 NFL Draft haul
Round 1: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ryan Ramcyzk, RT
Their first round saw them draft two cornerstone players who do play extremely valuable positions. Their 11th overall pick, Marshon Lattimore, quickly solidified himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. The four time Pro Bowler and 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year has 13 career interceptions and 75 passes defensed so far. He’s also signed a massive contract extension, which more or less proves that he was a draft home run.
Ryan Ramcyzk, the 32nd overall pick, has had a quieter but successful career. The one time All Pro is arguably the best right tackle in the NFL, and he was rewarded for that recently, as he also signed a mega contract extension. With the new quarterback shift from Drew Brees to Jameis Winston in New Orleans, having solid tackles is one of the best things the Saints could have done here. The 28 year old is one of the very best at what he does, and has only been called for 16 career penalties.
Round 2: Marcus Williams, S
Although playing a position that isn’t super valuable in today’s NFL, Marcus Williams is one of the best at it. The sixth year safety signed a $70 million contract with the Ravens this offseason, proving he was another draft home run from the New Orleans Saints. He already has three interceptions this season and 18 on his career, along with 41 passes defensed. He’s only missed five games in his career thus far.
Round 3: Alvin Kamara, RB, Alex Anzalone, LB, Trey Hendrickson
Alvin Kamara has made the Pro Bowl in all five of his seasons so far, and might be the best dual threat running back in the NFL. He’s got over 4000 career rushing yards and 3000 receiving yards. With 67 career touchdowns and over 7,500 scrimmage yards, it’s easy to see why the New Orleans Saints rewarded Kamara with a contract extension.
Alex Anzalone was a spot starter for the Saints during his first four years in the NFL, and is entering his second year with the Detroit Lions, where he’s taken more of a full-time role. He’s a good, not great player who came over when the Lions hired Dan Campbell to be their head coach.
There isn’t much more to say here. He’s a solid player who is likely contributing to the rebuilding process and culture shift in Detroit.
Trey Hendrickson was a late bloomer in the NFL, accumulating just 6.5 sacks in his first three season, then exploding for 13.5 in 2020. This landed him a nice payday in Cincinnati, where he helped the Bengals get to the Super Bowl. He had 14 sacks in the regular season during 2021.
Hendrickson was injured a bit during the early parts of his career, but appears to be on the right track now.
Round 6: Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE
The Saints doubled up at defensive end with Al-Quadin Muhammad in 2017. He only lasted one year with the team, but has settled into a more reserve role with his new team, the Indianapolis Colts. He had 6 sacks in 2021 as a full-time starter, and this was on a Colts’ defense that was 9th in the NFL in points per game allowed.
Muhammad is a solid backup and spot starter, which is indeed a home run for a sixth round pick. Wow, just looking at this draft again, and it’s clear how much Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton did well.