3 best running backs in New Orleans Saints history
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Saints, Deuce McAllister, Mark Ingram, Dalton Hilliard

3 best running backs in New Orleans Saints history

The New Orleans Saints have had several very fine running backs come through the once-expansion NFL franchise. Established in 1967, the Saints have yet to have a running back primarily play for the franchise later inducted into the Hall of Fame, with only Earl Campbell, a star rusher with the Houston Oilers, finding himself in Canton.

Instead, the Saints are left with these names—all very good running backs—with some names like George Rogers, Rueben Mayes, and Pierre Thomas narrowly missing the last spot in the top three.

Here are the best Saints running backs in franchise history.

3. Dalton Hilliard

Dalton Hilliard gets the much-coveted final spot in the top three—and there was plenty of competition. Hilliard, a star at LSU, was a hometown kid selected by New Orleans with the 31st overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft. Hilliard spent his entire eight-year professional tenure with the Saints, earning only one Pro Bowl appearance in 1989.

In his career, Hilliard racked up 4,164 rushing yards for the Saints—the fourth-most in franchise history (the second-most at the time of his retirement)—and the third-most rushing touchdowns for the team (the most when he left, later surpassed by the next two individuals).

Hilliard was voted into the franchise’s 45th Anniversary Team as one of two running back selections. His best season came in that 1989 Pro Bowl selection, where he rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored a combined 18 touchdowns on the ground and through the air as a receiver.

2. Mark Ingram

The second-best running back in Saints history is a recent addition (although not as recent as Alvin Kamara, who may be here one day). Mark Ingram, a veteran now with the Baltimore Ravens, was a Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama and a first-round selection in 2011 by New Orleans.

After a star run and championship secured with the Crimson Tide, Ingram turned into a stable backfield playmaker for Drew Brees and crew. Ingram was a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Saints, posting his best seasons well into his professional tenure in 2016-17 with over 1,000 rushing yards in each campaign.

In 2018, despite missing four games due to a drug violation suspension handed down by the league, Ingram became the franchise’s single leader in rushing touchdowns (50). Ingram signed as a free agent with the Ravens, spending the last season alongside regular-season MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Ingram also possesses the second-most rushing yards in franchise history.

1. Deuce McAllister

That just leaves the best running back in the history of the Saints, Deuce McAllister. McAllister was a fixture in the backfield for New Orleans in the early aughts, with the Ole Miss product selected by the Saints with the 23rd overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.

After an unremarkable rookie season, where he played behind star rusher Ricky Williams, McAllister broke out the next campaign following the Williams offseason trade. McAllister would rush for over 1,000 yards in the next three seasons, missing most of the 2005 campaign due to an ACL tear, turning into a two-time Pro Bowler.

McAllister returned healthy for the now Brees-helmed Saints in 2006, rushing for over 1,000 yards again and posting a career single-season second-best 10 touchdowns that year.

McAllister spent his entire eight-year NFL career with the Saints, retiring after the 2008 season, and places No. 1 in the franchise’s rushing yards leaderboard and second, behind Ingram, in rushing touchdowns. He was a Super Bowl champ with the team in 2009-10 (although he didn’t appear in the game) and was inducted into the Saints’ Hall of Fame in 2012 and remains a fixture of the franchise since leaving the game.