New Orleans Saints First Round Draft Choices: Ricky Williams (1999)
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 1998.
The 1999 draft was the 33rd draft in the history of the Saints, and the final one under former head coach Mike Ditka.
The Saints had one pick, and one pick only, in the draft in 1999.
That pick was a first round selection, as the Saints traded their picks in the first round, as well as rounds 3-7, plus their first and third round picks in the 2000 draft, to the Washington Redskins for the 5th-overall selection.
The Saints had already traded their second round pick in 1999 to the Rams for receiver Eddie Kennison, so that left them with the one selection.
The pick: Ricky Williams, a running back from Texas.
This selection will go down as one of the more infamous picks in Saints history.
Williams had modest success, but the trade certainly fell flat for the Saints, as Williams played for them only three years before being traded, while Ditka lasted only one more year, and they lost a number of draft choices.
A native of San Diego, California, Naeole, who was the 5th-overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft, played three years for the Saints, from 1999-2001.
The 5-foot-10, 226-pound Williams played in all 12 games as a rookie in 1999, all as a starter, rushing for 884 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Certainly, Williams' rookie campaign was a big disappointment, as he averaged only 3.5 yards-per-carry.
Williams rebounded in 200 however, rushing for 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns in only 10 games, while averaging 4.0 yards-per-carry. And although he was hurt for the playoffs, Williams was part of a Saints squad that won a playoff game for the first time in franchise history.
In 2001, his last season with the Saints, Williams remained healthy, playing in all 16 games, rushing for 1,245 yards and 6 touchdowns, while averaging 4.0 yards-per-carry.
The Saints traded Williams to the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2002 season, where he had his best season as a pro, rushing for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Williams could never match the success he had in 2002 again however. He did have two more 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but was inconsistent, and had to miss to entire 2006 season for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
After 7 seasons with the Dolphins, Williams spent one year with the Baltimore Ravens, prior to retiring following the 2011 season.
In 3 seasons with the Saints, Williams played in 38 games, all as a starter, compiling 3,129 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
In 11 total NFL seasons, Williams accumulated 10,009 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns in 147 games, including 83 as a starter.
The trade for/pick of Williams by the Saints is not remembered very fondly by most Saints fans, and shouldn't be. But he did have a career in which he rushed for over 10,000 yards, albeit most of those not for the Saints, while New Orleans, despite the lack of draft choices in 1999 and 200, made the playoffs in 2000, in which they won their very first playoff game.