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Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Saints, Loomis among NFL's best in draft

By Mike Triplett

Not many NFL teams have enjoyed the kind of sustained success in the draft as the New Orleans Saints have during general manager Mickey Loomis' tenure.

Sure, they've had their share of hits and misses during Loomis' first 11 drafts, beginning in 2003. But few teams have been able to match the quantity or the consistency of those hits.

Since 2006, the Saints have drafted seven Pro Bowlers. That's tied for fifth among all NFL teams during that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And Loomis is tied for first among all individual general managers during that span (with Dallas Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones and Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman).

That's why Loomis' run is so impressive -- it requires both success and longevity.

Dating to Loomis' debut in 2003, the Saints have drafted 10 Pro Bowlers. That's tied for seventh in the NFL. And Loomis ranks fourth among all individual GMs over that span -- behind former San Diego Chargers GM A.J. Smith (13), Jones (12) and New England Patriots coach/de facto GM Bill Belichick (11).

Obviously others in the Saints organization deserve credit as well, including coach Sean Payton (hired in 2006) and longtime college scouting director Rick Reiprish (hired in 2004).

The Saints haven't had to make many radical changes to their power structure over the past decade. They've only had to rebuild the roster once during Loomis' tenure (2006). And they've only had three top-10 picks (DT Jonathan Sullivan in 2003, RB Reggie Bush in 2006 and DT Sedrick Ellis in 2008).

Ironically, none of those players went on to be Pro Bowlers -- which is a strike against Loomis and the Saints. But New Orleans has been outstanding further down in the draft.

Here's the list of the guys who have made the Pro Bowl so far -- a list that should continue to grow as impressive young players such as safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Akiem Hicks continue to develop:

2003: OT Jon Stinchcomb (second round)
2004: DE Will Smith (first round)
2005: OT Jammal Brown (first round)
2006: S Roman Harper (second round)
2006: G Jahri Evans (fourth round)
2007: OT Jermon Bushrod (fourth round)
2008: G Carl Nicks (fifth round)
2009: P Thomas Morstead (fifth round)
2010: TE Jimmy Graham (third round)
2011: DE Cameron Jordan (first round)