5. Ricky Williams
After Ricky Williams won the Heisman Trophy in 1998, New Orleans executed a historic trade at the 1999 NFL draft. The Saints traded all of their ’99 draft picks and two picks in 2000 to the Washington Redskins to select Williams with the fifth overall pick in the draft. Given his stellar collegiate career and the draft trade, it was virtually impossible for Williams to live up to expectations in New Orleans. Despite missing 10 games due to injury in his first two seasons, Williams still rushed for over 3,000 yards in his three years. His greatest accomplishment was rushing for exactly 1,000 yards in just 10 games in 2000 to help lead the Saints to the NFC South Division title.
4. Dalton Hilliard
Hailing from Patterson, LA and playing college ball at LSU, Dalton Hilliard was a fan favorite upon arrival in New Orleans. Drafted in the second round in 1986, Hilliard, along with third round pick Rueben Mayes, formed a deadly backfield tandem. Hilliard was a key factor in the first Saints’ team to win a division crown and earn playoff berths. With Mayes out due to injury in 1989, Hilliard had his finest season, rushing for 13 touchdowns, 1,262 yards and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. During the 90’s, Hilliard also suffered injuries and his playing time was curtailed. Dalton Hilliard ranks third in career rushing for the Saints with 4,164 yards and second with 39 TD.
3. Rueben Mayes
Rueben Mayes is one of the most successful NFL players to ever come out of Canada. Despite being drafted after Hilliard, Mayes won the starting spot at running back in 1986. That year, Mayes had a phenomenal rookie season, rushing for 8 TD and 1,353 yards. For his efforts, Mayes earned a Pro Bowl selection, was named All-Pro and won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The following year, Mayes earned another Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection, as the Saints experienced their first winning season and playoff berth. Unfortunately, Mayes would later have to sit out two full seasons (1989 and 1991) due to injuries. Mayes spent his final two years in the NFL in Seattle. Rueben Mayes ranks fourth in career rushing yards as a Saint with 3,408.
2. George Rogers
Ricky Williams was not the first Heisman Trophy back to be drafted by New Orleans. After an awful 1-15 season in 1980, the Saints “earned” the first pick in the 1981 draft and selected George Rogers out of South Carolina. In ’81, Rogers had one of the finest rookie seasons in history. He led the NFL with 1,674 yards rushing and set the team record for single season rushing yards. In doing so, Rogers won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and went to the Pro Bowl. Despite playing for only two-thirds of the 1982 season, Rogers earned another trip to the Pro Bowl. In ’83, Rogers again ran for over 1,000 yards as the Saints narrowly missed their first winning season. Unfortunately, Rogers was traded to the Redskins during his prime. But he ranks second in team history with 4,267 yards rushing.
1. Deuce McAllister
With the exception of Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister may be the most popular Saint in team history. Hailing from Ole Miss, McAllister had to bide his time on the bench, playing behind Ricky Williams. Following McAllister’s rookie season, the Saints traded Williams and named Deuce the starter. From 2002-2004, McAllister eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark each year and earned two trips to the Pro Bowl (2002 and 2003). After suffering a torn ACL in 2005, McAllister returned for the magical 2006 season and helped lead the Saints to the NFC Championship game with another 1,000 yard rushing season. Next year, McAllister tore the ACL in his other knee, but somehow came back in 2008, cementing his place in the hearts’ of Saints’ fans. In 2010, the Saints signed McAllister to the postseason roster so he could be a part of the Super Bowl champions. Deuce McAllister is the career leader with 6,096 yards rushing for New Orleans, nearly 2,000 yards ahead of George Rogers.
All statistics found at the NFL’s official web page
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