A Decade of Drafting-2002

Due to popular request, I’m expanding my look at the Colts’ drafts to include some other teams.  Each day, we’ll look how the Colts, Steelers, Patriots, Eagles and Ravens drafted this decade.  We’ll start with the year 2000.  I’m ranking the teams based on this criteria:  would you trade one entire draft for another?  The team whose draft you would definitely trade the others for gets top billing.

All the top teams had great drafts in 2002.  The Ravens had a lot of quality and quantity.  The Eagles hit on three Pro Bowlers.  The Colts nabbed one of the great pass rushers in history, the Steelers landed 5 starters, and the Pats…well, they got Deion Branch.

2002

1. Ravens

Total picks: 10

Made team: 9

Total Games: 470

Total Pro Bowls:  6 (Ed Reed-5)

Best pick:  Ed Reed

Starters drafted: Ed Reed (8 seasons), Anthony Weaver (4 seasons), Dave Zastudil (4 seasons), Terry Jones (2 seasons)

Summary and grade: A+ This was the draft of the year.  Not only did the Ravens score a perennial All-Pro in Ed Reed, but they landed three other starters as well, had nine players make the team, and produced a healthy game total.  This was a great draft for the Ravens.  They got an impact player (like Indy did), but also landed more starters and more total games played than Indy did.

2. Eagles

Total picks: 8

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 417

Total Pro Bowls:  5 (Sheppard-2, Michael Lewis-1, Westbrook-2)

Best pick:  Michael Westbrook

Starters drafted: Lito Sheppard (5 seasons), Michael Lewis (3 seasons), Sheldon Brown (6 seasons), Brian Westbrook (6 seasons)

Summary and grade: A. Finally a great draft from the Eagles.  Not only did they produce three Pro Bowl players, but landed four starters.  Their draft was so deep that seventh round pick Raheem Brock got cut, and was picked up by the Colts for whom he started for several seasons.  This was neck and neck with the Colts for the second spot.

3.  Colts

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 286

Total Pro Bowls:  5 (Freeney-5)

Best pick:  Dwight Freeney

Starters drafted: Freeney (8 seasons), Tripplett (2 seasons), David Thornton (3 seasons)

Summary and grade:  A.  Considering how controversial the Freeney pick was, there’s no other way to grade this draft.  Any time a team gets one of the three best players in its history at the 12th pick AND gets ripped for it, it’s a good day.  Again, 7 of 8 players taken made the team.  The only bad picks were Jefferson and Allen both of whom were taken over better players at their positions (Hope and Taylor).  Overall, it’s a hard draft to nitpick.  A true game changing rusher and two other other starters is a respectable haul from what was a top loaded draft.

4. Steelers

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games: 513

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Chris Hope with Titans-1)

Best pick:  Brett Keisel

Starters drafted: Kendall Simmons (5 seasons), Antwaan Randel El (1 season), Chris Hope (2 seasons), Larry Foote (5 seasons), Brett Keisel (4 seasons)

Summary and grade: A. This is the classic “no home runs, but a lot of hits” draft.  The Steelers only got one Pro Bowl level player (Chris Hope made the Pro Bowl after leaving the Steelers), but they landed five starters for championship teams.  513 games played is the most I’ve tracked from any draft to date.  Any GM would take this kind of production year in and year out.  An excellent draft for sure.  I still rank it just fourth because of the lack of star power, but it’s an A quality draft for sure.

5. Patriots

Total picks: 6

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 300

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Deion Branch

Starters drafted: Daniel Graham (4 seasons), Deion Branch (3 seasons), Jarvis Green (1 season), David Givens (2 seasons)

Summary and grade: B This was not a bad draft for the Pats, but there wasn’t a lot of excellence either.  Branch won a Super Bowl MVP and later netted them a first round pick, so you have to recognize that value.  They got a few marginal starters.  It’s basically a B- draft with a bump considering the value Branch brought specifically to them.

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