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2002 New Orleans Saints Draft: Fan’s Reflection
As the New Orleans Saints prepare for the 2012 NFL draft, fans are hoping the team can find some impact players to contribute next season. When draft day approaches each year, fans often reflect on past drafts and teams' successes and failures.
Ten years ago, the Saints had finished the 2001 season 7-9 and entered the 2002 draft seeking improvement on both sides of the ball. Below are the nine players drafted by the Saints in 2002.
1. Donte Stallworth, WR (13th pick)
Stallworth, a wide receiver from Tennessee, played in 56 games over four seasons with the Saints. While most fans would say he never lived up to his potential, Stallworth did accumulate 2,791 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns in New Orleans. His best season was 2005 when he ended the year with 945 yards and seven scores. Since that season, however, Stallworth has payed for five different teams, most recently catching 22 passes for the Washington Redskins last year. Players drafted after Stallworth include Ed Reed, Albert Haynesworth and Jeremy Shockey.
2. Charles Grant, DE (25th pick)
A defensive end from Georgia, Grant had an immediate impact on the defense and totaled seven sacks in his rookie season. He played in New Orleans for eight years, finishing with 47 sacks and 17 forced fumbles. Grant was a starter on the 2009 Saints team that finished 13-3 and won Super Bowl XLIV.
3. LeCharles Bentley, C (44th pick)
The Saints' first non-SEC selection in 2002 was Bentley, a center from Ohio State. He played right guard for the Saints for two seasons and then moved to center for another two. Bentley earned Pro Bowl honors in 2003 and 2005 before leaving the team as a free agent. Although he signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2006, injuries prevented him from ever playing.
4. James Allen, LB (82nd pick)
Allen played linebacker for Oregon State and then spent four seasons with the Saints. His best season was 2004 when he started 10 games. Like Bentley, he never played again in the NFL after 2005.
5. Keyou Craver, CB (125th pick)
Craver, a defensive back from Nebraska, started only one game for the Saints during his two-year career.
6. Mel Mitchell, S (150th pick)
Obviously looking for defensive players in the middle rounds, the Saints' next pick, Mitchell, was a safety from Western Kentucky. While he never started in New Orleans, Mitchell appeared in 44 games over three seasons. He last played for the New England Patriots in 2007.
7. J.T. O'Sullivan, QB (186th pick)
O'Sullivan, who played quarterback at UC Davis, never appeared in a game for the Saints and was traded to the Green Bay Packers for Mike McKenzie in 2004. O'Sullivan has played for numerous NFL teams, but has only started eight games, all for the San Francisco 49ers in 2008.
8. John Gilmore, TE (196th pick)
Gilmore, a tight end from Penn State, did not catch on with the Saints and played his first six seasons for the Chicago Bears. After a three-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gilmore found his way back to New Orleans, where he played last year and is the only player on this list to do so. Gilmore has 55 receptions, 544 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his career.
9. Derrius Monroe, DE (224th pick)
Following the 2002 draft, the Saints did manage to improve their season record to 9-7. The team did not earn a postseason spot, however, and placed third in the NFC South.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.
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