New Orleans Saints First Round Draft Choices: Craig Heyward (1988)
The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft will be held on Thursday, April 28, in Chicago, Illinois.
Between now and then, we’ll be looking back at all of the drafts of the New Orleans Saints, from 1967-2015.
Yesterday, we looked back at 1987.
The 1988 draft was the 22nd draft in the history of the Saints.
The pick: Craig Heyward, a running back from Pitt.
Heyward was selected by the Saints with the 24th-overall pick, in the first round, of the 1988 NFL Draft.
A native of Passaic, New Jersey Heyward, whose nickname was "Ironhead", played both tailback and fullback for the Saints.
The 5-foot-11, 260-pound Heyward played in 11 games as a rookie in 1988, starting 8, rushing for 355 yards and a touchdown, before his stats dropped in 1989, rushing for only 183 yards and one score.
Heyward bounced back in 1990, with his best season as a Saint, rushing for 599 yards and 4 touchdowns, including back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against the Bengals and Buccaneers, in weeks 7-8, when he rushed for a combined 277 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Heyward couldn't continue to match that success, rushing for 260 yards in 1991, and 416 in 1992, in last season in New Orleans.
After one season in Chicago, Heyward went to Atlanta, where he became a top-flight running back, rushing for 779 yards and 7 touchdowns in 1994, before rushing for a career-high 1,083 yards and 6 touchdowns in 1995, when he mad the Pro Bowl.
Heyward spent one more season in Atlanta, before playing one season each in St. Louis and Indianapolis, prior to retiring following the 1998 season.
Sadly, Heyward died of cancer in 2006, at the young age of 39.
In 5 seasons with the Saints, Heyward played in 66 games, rushing for 1,813 yards and 13 touchdowns.
In 11 seasons in the NFL, Heyward accumulated 4,301 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns.
In the second round of the 1998 NFL Draft, the Saints selected Miami (Florida) receiver Brett Perriman, who had modest success in three years with the franchise, before going on to have a solid career with the Detroit Lions.