By John Turney
Marshon Lattimore. For now, however, we picked the teams through the 2016 season. We want a chance to review all the rookie seasons for all the teams before we update but it is a safe bet that Lattimore will achieve one of the two First-team slots on the Saints team.
Here are our selections:
The running backs are George Rogers, 1981 (over 1600 yards rushing Offensive Rookie of the Year, First-team All-Pro), and Rueben Mayes, 1986, on the First-team and Ricky Williams, 1999, and Alvin Maxson, 1974, as Second-teamers.
There is a long list of honorable mentions: Tony Galbreath, 1976 (All-Rookie), Chuck Muncie, 1976, Reggie Bush, 2006, Chris Ivory, 2010, Vaughn Dunbar, 1992, the final three all making All-Rookie teams.
Michael Thomas, 2016, and Marques Colston, 2006, top the receiver list with Danny Abramowicz, 1967, and Willie Snead, 2015, next. The honorables include Joel Parker, 1974, Wes Chandler, 1978, Donte' Stallworth, 2002, Kenny Stills, 2013, Lindsay Scott, 1982.
Cam Cleeland, 1998, a consensus All-Rookie pick is the top tight end backed by Paul Seal's 1974 season.
Brian De La Puente, 2011, is the lone center. There were no other years worthy of being picked for an All-time All-Rookie Team. Kyle Turley, 1998, and Jahri Evans, 2006, are the top two guards narrowly edging LeCharles Bentley, 2002, and Carl Nicks, 2008. The honorables include All-Rookie picks of Royce Smith, 1972, Brad Edelman, 1982, and Steve Trapilo, 1987, plus Chris Port's 1991.
Willie Roaf, 1993, and Jammal Brown, 2005, are stellar tackles. They are backed by Stan Brock, 1980, and J.T. Taylor, 1978 (tie), Don Morrison, 1971 (tie). Taylor and Morrison were not All-Rookie picks but both were starters on two of the better Saints teams of the 1970s. We just couldn't find enough to separate them so we tied them for the final Second-team spot. Kevin Haverdink is the lone honorable mention for his consensus All-Rookie performance of 1989.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar, 2008 (13 tackles) and Steve Preece,1969, head the special teams coverage position. Honorable mentions are Sedrick Hodge, 2001 (14 tackles) and Usama Young, 2007 (13 tackles).
Wil Lutz, 2016, Tom Dempsey's, 1969. Lutz was just too good 28/34 FGs and 133 points. Dempsey was All-Pro in 1969. We do "grade on a curve" taking into account the era and this was a close call. Being All-Pro means Dempsey was considered the top kicker. Lutz, while excellent was not. But if a player can have a season like Lutz did in 2016 and it not top someone from an earlier era it would make it impossible to ever supplant the older players. So, we went with Lutz. But, we admit, we could be wrong. It's that close in our eyes.
With punters, we went with the older player but again, it was close. Julian Fagen, 1970, followed by Tom McNeill, 1967 (37.5 net average). The honorable mentions are Steve Weatherford, 2006, Thomas Morstead, 2009, Brian Hansen, 1984.
Tyrone Hughes take the top punt return season and the Second-team kick returner slot.
Willie Whitehead, 1999 (30 tackles, 7 sacks), is our First-team designated pass rusher followed by inside rusher Jumpy Geathers, 1984. Ernie Jackson had a good year in 1972 as a nickel back as did Usama Young in 2007.
Darren Howard, 2000 (53 tackles, 11 sacks, 1 INT), and Will Smith, 2004 (40 tackles, 7.5 sacks), are the First-team defensive ends with Renaldo Turnbull, 1990 (31 tackles, 9 sacks), and Bruce Clark, 1982, backing them up. Charles Grant, 2002 (37 tackles, 7 sacks), Shawn Knight, 1987, and Joe Johnson, 1994, and Cameron Jordan, 2011, are the honorable mentions, all except Jordan were named to All-Rookie teams.
Bob Pollard, 1971 (79 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FF), and Dave Rowe, 1967 (55 tackles, 3½ sacks), are our picks for defensive tackle and Sedrick Ellis, 2008 (30 tackles, 4 sacks), and Elex Price, 1973 (89 tackles, 2 sacks), are their backups. The honorable mentions are Sheldon Rankins, 2016 (20 tackles, 4 sacks), and Johnathan Sullivan's 2003 (33 tackles, 1 sack, season-long starter and All-Rookie).
Glen Redd, 1981, and Joe Federspiel, 1972 are the inside- and middle linebackers, respectively backed by Jack Del Rio, 1985, and Stephone Anthony, 2015.
Robert Massey, 1989 (87 tackles, 5 picks), is the top corner with Doug Wyatt, 1970 (53 tackles, 13 passes defensed, 4 INT), next. Numbers three and four are Johnnie Poe, 1981, and Delvin Breaux, 2015.
The honorables are Dee Martin, 1971 (61 tackles, 17 passes defensed, 3 INTs), Terry Schmidt, 1974, Dave Waymer, 1980 (52 tackles, 14 passes defensed), and Gene Howard, 1968 (40 tackles, 22 passes defensed, 3 INTs).
Hugo Hollas, 1970 (5 picks and a good blitzer), is the top strong safety and Sammy Knight, 1997 (84 tackles, 5 INTs), is the top weak-side man. Kenny Vaccaro, 2013 (79 tackles and a pick), and Josh Bullocks, 2005, are next.
The honorable mention safeties are: Russell Gary, 1981, Antonio Gibson, 1986 (All-Rookie)
Pierre Warren, 2014, Vonn Bell, 2016, and Gene Atkins, 1987 (All-Rookie)