No. 11 pick may be NFL draft's best since 2000, but worst in Saints history

The New Orleans Saints have reversed their fortunes over the past decade, erasing a lot of their painful history as the "'Aints" by winning their first Super Bowl and sending their first three players to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But there is still one curse that needs to be broken.

The Saints, who have the 11th pick in this year's NFL draft, have picked 11th three times before. And they are three of the most dreadful picks in the franchise's 50-year history:

  • P/K Russell Erxleben, 1979: The highest any team has drafted a kicker or punter in the past 50 years. The Saints hoped he would play both roles, but he failed to win the kicking job and made just 4 of 8 field goal attempts in his career. He lasted five seasons as New Orleans’ punter. I recently selected him as the biggest draft bust in Saints history -- though a strong case could be made for the next guy on this list.

  • DE Shawn Knight, 1987: He played in just 10 games with no starts and no defensive statistics before being shipped away to Denver. He lasted only three years in the NFL with one start, no career tackles and one fumble recovery in 31 games.

  • CB Alex Molden, 1996: Better than those other poor souls, but mostly known for not being Eddie George (who was picked 14th). Molden lasted five years in New Orleans, with 38 starts and eight interceptions before finishing his career with the Chargers and Lions.

The good news, though, is that the 11th pick has been extremely kind to the rest of the NFL since 2000 -- the best of any draft slot by at least one measure -- thanks to guys like J.J. Watt, Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Willis, DeMarcus Ware and Dwight Freeney.

ESPN Los Angeles Rams reporter Alden Gonzalez researched every draft slot over that span, and he found that the No. 11 pick produced more first-team All-Pro seasons (16) than any other. It produced the second-most Pro Bowl invites (38) and tied for second with the most players invited to at least one Pro Bowl (10). Only the No. 1 pick produced more.

Here is a list of every No. 11 pick since 2000 -- a list the Saints would love to make even more impressive on Thursday night: