Now that the Saints have the Super Bowl, take a look back at the offensive linemen who helped lay the groundwork for the franchise’s later success. This article ranks the Saints all-time top five offensive linemen.
5. G Brad Edelman (1982-1989)
New Saints head coach “Bum” Phillips wanted New Orleans to move to a more conservative running game as opposed to the wide open passing attack of the late 1970’s. To help anchor the offensive line necessary for this approach, New Orleans drafted Brad Edelman with their second round pick in the 1982 draft. With Edelman playing guard, Saints running backs such as George Rogers, Rueben Mayes and Dalton Hilliard each had 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Although his career was later shortened by injuries, Edelman was selected to the 1987 Pro Bowl. Click here to see a video of Edelman, who is now a professional photographer.
4. G Jake Kupp (1967-1975)
In the early days of the New Orleans Saints, stars were certainly few and far between. But in 1969, guard Jake Kupp became the first offensive lineman in Saints history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. Kupp, who played with the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins after being selected in the ninth round of the 1964 draft, finally found a home in New Orleans during the 1967 season. In fact, Kupp was an offensive lineman for nine years with the Saints, before retiring following the 1975 season. Jake Kupp is a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
3. C Joel Hilgenberg (1984-1993)
When long time New Orleans Saints center John Hill neared the end of his career, the Saints knew they would need another center to replace him. In the fourth round of the 1984 draft, New Orleans selected Joel Hilgenberg out of Iowa. Hilgenberg, whose brother Jay had an outstanding career as an offensive lineman with the Chicago Bears, became the starting center for New Orleans in 1987, when the Saints had their first winning season and playoff berth. In 1992, Joel Hilgenberg was selected to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Joel Hilgenberg is a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
2. T Jammal Brown (2005-2009)
Jammal Brown was able to do what Saints fans thought impossible; be a solid replacement for Willie Roaf. At Oklahoma, Brown won the 2004 Outland Trophy as the nation’s best offensive lineman. In the 2005 draft, New Orleans selected Jammal Brown in the first round. The next year, Brown helped New Orleans reach the NFC Championship. For his efforts, Jammal Brown was selected to the Pro Bowl and was a first team All-Pro. Two years later, Brown was selected to the Pro Bowl again, becoming the only Saints offensive lineman besides Roaf to play in two Pro Bowls. After an injury plagued 2009 season, Jammal Brown was traded to the Washington Redskins.
1. T Willie Roaf (1993-2001)
How highly did the New Orleans Saints value Willie Roaf? They were willing to break up the “Dome Patrol” by trading linebacker Pat Swilling to Detroit to pick Roaf in the first round of the 1993 draft. After joining the Saints, Willie Roaf began a dynasty of excellence that has been unmatched in team history. Roaf played in seven straight Pro Bowls as a Saint, the most total appearances by any New Orleans player. Also, Willie Roaf was a first team AP All-Pro in 1994 and 1995, the only Saints offensive lineman to earn this honor multiple times. Obviously, Roaf is a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. Look for Willie Roaf to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.
Statistical data found at pro football reference and the NFL’s official web site.
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