How New Orleans Saints Past Drafts Turned Out: 1967 & 1968
How have the New Orleans Saints fared in the NFL Draft, in what will be their 54th year of existence in the 2020 NFL season?
The first round of the 2020 NFL Draft is scheduled to be held on Thursday, April 24.
Between now and then, we'll be looking back at all of the drafts of the New Orleans, from 1967-2019, and take a more in-depth look at their past first-round draft choices, and how they turned out.
Today: 1967 & 1968.
The very first draft for the Saints was the 1967 draft.
The pick: Les Kelley, a linebacker, out of Alabama.
Kelley became the first-ever draft choice of the Saints, taken with the final pick of the first round.
The Saints originally had the #1 overall pick in that draft but traded it to the Baltimore Colts for quarterback Gary Cuozzo, who only played one year with the franchise.
Who did the Colts select with the top pick that the Saints originally have? Hall of Famer Bubba Smith, a defensive end from Michigan St.
Kelley, who was a running back in college at Alabama, was drafted as a linebacker by the Saints.
The Decatur, Alabama native was a big disappointment in New Orleans, playing in 30 games, none as a starter, before moving on after only three years with the team, from 1967-1969.
He never played again in the NFL.
The Saints did hit on some draft choices in 1967, taking receiver John Gilliam and defensive tackle David Rowe in the second round, guard Del Williams in the third round, and receiver Danny Abramowicz in the 17th round.
Gilliam who returned the opening kickoff of the 1967 season for a touchdown, played ten years in the NFL, despite only playing two years in New Orleans, while Rowe lasted 10 years, Williams 7, and Abramowicz, an All-Pro for the Saints in 1969, who played nine years in the NFL, including seven for the Saints.
On to 1968:
The second-ever draft for the Saints was the 1968 draft.
The pick: Kevin Hardy, a defensive tackle, out of Notre Dame.
Hardy became the second-ever, and highest first-round draft choice of the Saints, taken with the 7th overall pick in 1968.
A native of Oakland, California, Hardy ranks as one of the worst first-round draft choices ever by the Saints, having never played a single down for them.
Hardy did spend four seasons in the NFL, spending 1968 with the San Francisco 49ers, 1970 with the Green Bay Packers, and the 1971-1972 season with the San Diego Chargers, before his career came to an end, having only started 11 games.
Truth be told, the 1968 draft, as a whole, ranks as one of, if not the worst, for the Saints in franchise history, with only one of their 17 draft choices that year ever started a single game.
Gene Howard, a defensive back from Langston, who spent three years for the Saints, from 1968-1970, started six games for the team in 1970.
1967 and 1968 were not good drafts for the Saints.
Tomorrow: 1969 & 1970.