The Colts play the best players available.
Due to recent criticism (and I’m not going to link to the trainwreck article that started it) of Polian, some fans have been up in arms about the team cutting Taylor and Marcus Howard. People have begun to question whether Polian is losing his touch in the draft. There’s one massive problem with that claim.
Polian drafted all the players who beat out the players he cut.
Do you think Polian cares if Tyjuan Hagler (who he drafted) beats out Phillip Wheeler (who he drafted) for a starting spot? Polian has egg on his face (right now) over Ugoh, but he also drafted Charlie Johnson who replaced him. The Colts haven’t had to erase draft mistakes with bargain bin free agents or casts off from other teams. They’ve replaced draft picks with draft picks. There are only 5 players on the Colts that have been drafted by other clubs. Two of those were last minute pick ups this weekend. The truth is that when a 6th rounder or a UFA beats out a 3rd rounder, it makes Polian look smart in the long run. When that player becomes a star, everyone says, “Wow! Polian hit on a 6th round pick!”. They forget that it means that he whiffed on the 3rd round pick in the same draft. That’s the nature of the draft. After the first round, the difference in talent level starts to fall off precipitously. In the end, a 4th rounder and a UFA aren’t that far apart. We only perceive there to be a big difference. It doesn’t matter that Polain has airmailed almost every 3rd round pick for a decade. He’s been money in other rounds.
The only way that Bill Polian could be losing his touch is if the Colts were somehow worse than they used to be. They haven’t been signing free agents, so virtually everyone on the team was drafted, or signed as a UFA by Polian. So as long as the team is still elite, Polian can’t possibly be getting worse at the draft. A big part of the problem is that fans are paying too much attention to the draft and the preseason. They are falling in love with players before they’ve ever played a meaningful down. We dream about what a big DT like Taylor could do, and then feel betrayed when he doesn’t make the team. It’s creating false crises that don’t have much to do with wins and losses on Sunday. This is why I hate the offseason. There is simply too much talk about players we know nothing about. In the case of a guy like Marcus Howard, we thought we did know something, and still got blindsided by his departure.
When it comes to the head hauncho, it’s fair to attack the Ugoh pick. They traded up to take him. The book on him at the time was that he didn’t seem to care about football. Many in the draft media questioned the pick. They questioned his heart and motor. Looks like the book was right. That’s one pick, though. It was a big one, but it could have been worse. The Colts did get two years of starting football out of Ugoh, and he’s still on the roster, and still might start before the year is up. That’s a lot of production for a total bust. There are plenty of first and second round picks who don’t even produce that much. There’s still time for Ugoh to pull a Rob Morris, though I don’t know if he has the guts to do it.
The lesson here is this: we can’t have unrealistic dreams about draft picks and then cry when they don’t work out. I’ve been accused of taking the fun out of the preseason by complaining about this before, but this is why. It’s not that fans dream or imagine too much. It’s that they freak out when their dreams don’t come to fruition.
Jerraud Powers was one of the most criticized picks of this past draft. Looks like he might start opening day.
Terrance Taylor was universally lauded. To date, no one has even signed him to a practice squad.
That’s the NFL draft for you.