For NFL fans, Spring means free agency and the draft. It is the time of year when every fan becomes an expert on their team’s needs and the quality of draft prospects. It is also the time of year for rankings – “Top 100 Draft Prospects”, “Greatest Draft Bargains of All Time”, “Ten Biggest Draft Busts” and so on.
The New Orleans Saints took Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State, with their second round pick (#47 overall). Most feel this was a good fit opposite the speed receivers the Saints already have in Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. It started me thinking about the “Top Ten Saints Receivers in History”.
I didn’t include any current Saints players since our most veteran receiver at this point is Brandin Cooks, who was drafted in the first round in 2014. There is not enough history on any of the current receiving corps to include them in all-time greats lists. I have listed them from 10th to 1st. So here goes:
#10 Devery Henderson (2004-2012) – 245 rec/4,377 yd/20 TD Henderson benefitted from playing with Drew Brees and the modern rules that limit defensive backs in a lot of ways. He isn’t the most well-known receiver but he was a steady contributor and played in all 16 games from 2007-2012, making him one of the most durable.
#9 Donte Stallworth (2002-2005) – 195 rec/2,791 yd/23 TD Stallworth was a first round draft pick by the Saints but only played in New Orleans for four years. His overall career might qualify him for a higher ranking but as a Saint he was not as productive.
#8 Wes Chandler (1978-1981) – 182 rec/2,801 yd/15 TD Like Stallworth, Chandler had better years with other teams, but as a Saint he had a couple of good years, including a Pro-Bowl. I rank him above Stallworth because he played in an era that was much harder on receivers and Chandler’s quarterback was Archie Manning. Manning is considered one of the all-time Saint’s greats, he also spent most of the time running for his life, making it difficult to complete passes!
#7 Quinn Early (1991-1995) – 270 rec/3,758 yd/25 TD After playing with the San Diego Chargers, Early joined the Saints in 1991. He had his best season in 1995 with 81 catches for 1,087 yards and 8 TDs.
#6 Robert Meachem (2007-2011) 141 rec/2,269 yd/23 TD Meachem was a first round draft pick by the Saints in 2007 after an outstanding career at Tennessee. He had knee surgery and was forced to miss his rookie season. His big break with the Saints came at the expense of Marques Colston, who was sidelined with a broken thumb in the 2008 season. He was a key contributor in the Saints Super Bowl season. In six playoff games he had 14 receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown.
#5 Lance Moore (2005-2013) 346 rec/4,281 yd/39 TD Moore was an undrafted free agent who originally signed with Cleveland but ended up on the Saints practice squad in 2005. In 2006 he was allocated to the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe and then saw action in four games that year with the Saints. Moore also got his chance to increase playing time in 2008 at the expense of Marques Colston. Along with his regular season production, he caught a two-point conversion in the Super Bowl.
#4 Eric Martin (1985-1993) 532 rec/7,854 yd/48 TD Martin was drafted out of LSU in the seventh round and played nine years for the Saints. He is second in Saints history in receptions, third in touchdowns and finished with second in receiving yards. In his Saints career he only missed one game and could easily have been listed above my number three choice.
#3 Danny Abramowicz (1967-1973) 309 rec/4,875 yd/37 TD Abramowicz is a member of the Saints Hall of Fame and when he retired held the NFL record for catching passes in consecutive games at 105. Considering he played in an era that was much less pass friendly and half of his career he had Billy Kilmer as his quarterback, it was an amazing career. He also came back as a Saints radio analyst and coach and continues to be a favorite of Saints fans.
#2 Joe Horn (2000-2006) 523 rec/7,622 yd/50 TD Horn had his best years as a Saint after playing for the Memphis Mad Dogs of the CFL and then the Kansas City Chiefs. He made the Pro Bowl four times and is in the Saints Hall of Fame. He not only proved his worth on the field but made a huge impact in the community following Hurricane Katrina.
#1 Marques Colston (2006-2015) 711 rec/9,759 yd/72 TD There is no question Colston is the greatest receiver in Saints history. Not only did he play his entire career with the team, he also ranks number one in every major statistical category. His time with the Saints runs parallel to the Saints’ all-time greatest quarterback, Drew Brees. Picked in the 7th round of the draft, four players from Mr. Irrelevant, Colston started the very first game of his rookie year and never looked back. In the Saints only Super Bowl he had 7 receptions for 83 yards and was Brees’ favorite target over his career. He retired after the 2015 after the Saints released him.
The great thing about all-time lists is they can change from season to season. Here’s hoping the Saints current crop of receivers give us a reason to rewrite this list in the near future!