Possessing the 27th pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, 122nd overall, the New Orleans Saints will be attempting to strike gold today. Five previous times, New Orleans has experienced success in this middle round, including mining two key players in the club's Super Bowl XLIV Championship team in 2008 and 2009. Below is a summary of the top five seventh round draft picks in franchise history.
5. Torrance Small (WR)
Torrance Small was selected out of Alcorn State with the 138th pick of the 1992 NFL Draft. Small continuously fought for playing time throughout his first few years in the Black and Gold, used primarily in four and five receiver sets. However, he eventually came into his own in 1996 season, when he started 13 games. Over his five seasons in New Orleans, Small accumulated 2180 receiving yards on 176 receptions with 16 touchdowns.
4. Tony Elliott (DT)
Tony Elliott, nose tackle out of North Texas, was a member of the Saints from 1982-88. The Saints selected him in the fifth round of the 1982 draft. Elliott played a total of 84 games while started sixty of them. He accumulated thirteen sacks and recovered three fumbles throughout his career.
3. Tyronne Hughes (CB/KR)
New Orleans native and St. Augustine graduate Tyrone Hughes was selected by his hometown team in 1993 with the 137th overall pick. Hughes was listed as a cornerback coming out of Nebraska, but made much of his early contributions on special teams as a kick and punt return specialist. He was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, amassing 503 punt-return yards with two touchdowns, and 753 kick-return yards with one touchdown. In 1994 he set a team record by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in one game. He made his first NFL start at cornerback against St. Louis, in place of an injured Carl Lee. He played defense for only three years (1994-1996), totaling 68 tackles, two forced fumbles, four interceptions, and 14 passes defended.
2. Thomas Morstead (P)
In the 2009 draft, the Saints traded up on the board and did something they had not done in 25 years: drafted a punter. This punter was Thomas Morstead, a 6'4 punter and kickoff specialist, from Pearland, Texas. Morstead has shouldered the punting and kickoff duties since the start of his rookie campaign. In Morstead's first three years, the Black and Gold placed in the top three of the NFL in touchback percentage. Morstead cemented his legacy with what is considered by many to be the biggest play in team history. To start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV, Coach Sean Payton called on the rookie punter to perform an onside kick, which he executed perfectly. This kick changed the momentum of the game, sparking a second half comeback and cementing Thomas Morstead's place in Saints history.
1. Carl Nicks (G)
Selected with the 164th pick of the 2008 NFL draft, Carl Nicks exceeded expectations in a big way. In his rookie season, the Nebraska Cornhusker played in all 16 games, taking over the starting job in the fourth game of the season. Nicks claimed his spot in 2009 during the Super Bowl run, starting in all 16 regular season games as well as the three postseason contests. Nicks opened all 32 games in 2010 and 2011 for the Black and Gold, and acquired national recognition by being named to the 2011 and 2012 Pro Bowls, as well as being named to the 2011 All-Pro team.