Great Players The Saints Didn’t Draft: Dave Casper
The 2016 NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday, April 28, in Chicago, Illinois.
Between now and then, we’ll be looking back at some of the past drafts by the Saints, and some of the better players they passed up on when it was their turn to pick.
Of course, every NFL team has had their "steals" and "busts" over the years, as the NFL Draft is such an inexact science, but it's kind of fun, and at times, agonizing, to look back and see what players they could have, and maybe even should have drafted.
Today, we go back to the 1974 NFL Draft.
Yesterday, we did the same thing, when the Saints took Ohio St. linebacker Rick Middleton with the 13th-overall pick, one pick ahead of his college teammate, Randy Gradishar, who was taken by the Denver Broncos.
No, 1974 was not a good draft for the Saints.
In the second round that year, with the 36th-overall pick, the Saints selected Michigan tight end Paul Seal.
Now, Seal wasn't an awful player. He played three season for the Saints, before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers, catching 32 passes for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns, all career highs, as a rookie in 1974.
Seal was only a starter for one season in his 5-year career, however.
In other words, he was far from a Hall of Famer.
And that's what the Oakland Raiders got 9 picks later in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft, when they selected Notre Dame tight end Dave Casper.
A 5-time Pro Bowler and a member of the 1970's NFL All-Decade Team, Casper was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
In 13 seasons, Casper compiled 378 receptions for 5,216 yards and 52 touchdowns.
That was just a little bit better than Seal, who finished his career with 106 catches for 1,586 yards and 7 scores.
One pick after the Raiders selected Casper, the Pittsburgh Steelers took linebacker Jack Lambert, another member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Saints weren't going to draft another linebacker in the second round, after taking Middleton in the first round, but how sweet would it have been to have Lambert in a Saints uniform?
History may have lived out a lot differently had the Saints taken Gradishar and Casper though.