Great Players The Saints Didn’t Draft: Dan Dierdorf
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 1971 NFL Draft.
In the second round, with the 31st-overall pick, the Saints selected Grambling St. offensive tackle Sam Holden.
Not a good pick, to say the least, as Holden played in only 9 games in his extremely forgettable NFL career.
Three picks later, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Penn St. linebacker Jack Ham, who went on to a Hall of Fame career.
Obviously, Ham would have been an outstanding pick.
But because Holden was a tackle, we'll take a tackle as somebody the Saints could have selected in the second round instead.
With the 43rd selection of the second round, 12 picks after the Saints selected Holden, the St. Louis Cardinals took Michigan tackle Dan Dierdorf.
It was a great pick by the Cardinals, as Dierdorf turned out to be one of the best offensive linemen of the 1970's.
A 6-time Pro Bowler, and a member of the 1970's All-Decade team, Dierdorf was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
In 13 seasons, Dierdorf played in 160 games, starting 150, all with the Cardinals.
During a 10-year stretch, 1972-1981, Dierdorf played in every game in 8 of those.
The Sounds had sound logic entering the 1971 NFL Draft; draft Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning with the second overall pick, and then draft a left tackle in the second round to protect his blind side.
Manning worked out, but Holden didn't.
If the Saints had drafted Dierdorf instead of Holden, Manning may have had an even better career, and the Saints may have had different fortunes in the 1970's.