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Saints Nation: The History of the 15th Pick in the NFL Draft

How likely is the 15th pick to yield a superstar? Recent history shows most players picked 15th are incredibly solid players pretty consistently. While there's very few guys I would label as "stars" that were picked at 15, this exercise below proved to me the odds of hitting at 15 are higher than 50%. Surprisingly the Saints have never picked 15th overall before, so this is new territory for them. Below is a look at players who have gone 15th overall in recent years, dating back to 1990. I gave each pick a grade to get a sense for what the aggregate would be. Check it out:

2012: Seahawks picked DE Bruce Irvin of West Virginia. As a role player he had 8 sacks and is a player on the rise. B

2011: Dolphins picked C Mike Pouncey of Florida. 16 game starter for two straight years. Improved greatly in year two. B+

2010: Giants picked DE Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida. Two Time Pro Bowler, including a season with 16.5 sacks. Elite pass rusher. A-

2009: Texans picked LB Brian Cushing of USC. Made the Pro Bowl his rookie season and has been a solid NFL linebacker. Had a bad injury last season and was suspended for taking a banned substance. B+

2008: Chiefs picked T Branden Albert of Virginia. Started 71 of 72 games and has been a very balanced and solid tackle. B

2007: Steelers picked LB Lawrence Timmons of Florida State. After a slow start he's becoming a very reliable quality starter and a capable playmaker. B+

2006: Rams picked CB Tye Hill of Clemson. 5 career interceptions, out of the league by 2010. D

2005: Chiefs picked LB Derrick Johnson of Texas. Durable eight year starter, two time Pro Bowler. A-

2004: Bucs picked WR Michael Clayton of LSU. After a monster rookie season with 80 catches for 1193 yards, he battled injuries throughout the rest of his career and never bounced back. Lasted in the league till 2011 as a role player. C

2003: Eagles picked DE Jerome McDougle of Miami, Fl. Lasted in the league till 2008 as a backup only. 3 career sacks. D-

2002: Titans picked DT Albert Hayneworth of Tennessee. Two time Pro Bowler was the best tackle in the league for a short time, but his game fell apart once he got a massive contract from the Redskins in free agency. In 2008 had 8.5 sacks as a 350lb tackle! Out of the league by 2011, but the Titans got the best years out of him, so it was a good pick. A-

2001: Redskins picked WR Rod Gardner of Clemson. He did have one 1000 yard season but was largely a role player till he retired in 2006. C-

2000: Broncons picked CB Deltha O'Neal of California. Retired in 2008 with 34 career interceptions and a two time Pro Bowler. A solid player but a bit of a journeyman. B

1999: Bucs picked DT Anothony "Booger" McFarland of LSU. Starter for two Super Bowl champion teams. Never a superstar but always a solid player till 2006 when injuries finished his career. B

1998: Seahawks picked LB Anthony Simmons of Clemson. A good seven year starter that battled injuries. Played with the Saints briefly. C+

1997: Dolphins picked WR Yatil Green of Miami, FL. 18 career receptions. Out of the league by 2001. F

1996: Broncons picked LB John Mobley of Kutztown. A good 8 year starter, once an All Pro, and a Super Bowl champion. Don't ask me where Kutztown is, though. B

1995: Colts picked DE Ellis Johnson of Florida. 51 career sacks and a 10 year career. Never amazing but always solid. B-

1994: Rams picked T Wayne Gandy of Auburn. Most of you will recognize this name as he was the Saints' left tackle for a good three years, was solid, then went to the Falcons and as terrible. Got to love that. He never made the Pro Bowl in his 15 year career but was always considered pretty good. B

1993: Packers picked LB Wayne Simmons of Clemson. Played eight seasons and had lots of injuries but was decent when healthy. C+

1992: Jets picked TE Johnny Mitchell of Nebraska. Was viewed as a very explosive receiving tight end but never really panned out. I remember the hype surrounding Mitchell but he never really lived up to it. He only lasted till 1996 and then tried a ridiculous comeback with the Saints in 2001 that lasted about a day. D+

1991: Steelers picked LB Huey Richardson of Florida. Lasted two seasons and never started a game. F

1990: Oilers picked LB Lamar Lathon of Houston. 9 year career with a personal best 13.5 sacks in 96. That was the one time he made the Pro Bowl. B

Some interesting stats to take away from all this:

  • Since 1990, the 15th pick has yielded 16 defensive players and 7 offensive players. It seems like the talent leans defense at this point in the draft.
  • Since 1990, the position most picked at 15 is linebacker (8 of 23 selections) followed by defensive end (4).
  • The average GPA of these picks since 1990 is 2.28. Not great. I view C as "average" though, so on average this pick turns up a player that slightly better than average.
  • Since 1990, the player with the most Pro Bowls picked 15th is just 2, though Jason Pierre-Paul will likely change that soon. Still, that proves the 15th pick may yield good players but no superstars.
  • The best 15th pick players since 1990 are JPP, Derrick Johnson and Albert Haynesworth. All extremely good players in their prime, but they all have a bit of a checkered career too.
  • 6 of the 23 players picked 15th since 1990 i'd label as a "complete bust". That means 26% of the picks were busts, 13% I considered average, and 61% I considered "pretty good to very good". Those are decent odds.

Does this make you feel better, worse or indifferent about the Saints picking 15th overall?

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I like the Saints. A lot.

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