A Decade of Drafting-2007

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.

The Steelers set up their Super Bowl run with a home run draft in 2007.  The Colts could still come out on top here, but Session would have to hit another level, and Gonzo needs to become a star.  Or, Ugoh could become a starter.  The Pats grade will be controversial, but remember that I’m only evaluating them for the players they chose.  NOT for the players they obtained via trade.

1.  Steelers

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 225

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (La Marr Woodley-1)

Best pick: LaMarr Woodley

Starters drafted: Lawrence Timmons (1 season), LaMarr Woodley (2 seasons), Matt Spaeth (2 seasons), Daniel Sepulveda (2 seasons), William Gay (1 season),

Summary and Grade: A. A great draft by the Steelers helped put them over the top in 2008.  Five starters and a star in Woodley is an excellent year by any standard.

2.  Ravens

Total picks: 7

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 232

Total Pro Bowls:  2 (LeRon McClain-2)

Best pick: Ben Grubbs

Starters drafted: Ben Grubbs (3 seasons), Yamon Figures (2 seasons), Marshall Yanda (2 seasons), Le’Ron McClain (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B+ A good draft for the Ravens.  Everyone made the squad.  Several players have contributed.  McClain keeps making Pro Bowls because he’s the only fullback left in the NFL.  A nice job by them.

3.  Colts

Total picks: 9

Made team: 9

Total Games Played: 184

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Clint Session

Starters drafted: Gonzalez (2 seasons), Ugoh (2 seasons), Session (2 seasons), Dawson (1 season)

Summary and Grade:  B.  The jury is still out on this group, though it’s safe to say that the pick of Session was a definite hit.  Gonzo was on his way to becoming a star before popping a knee.  No one knows what do with Ugoh, but in looking back over the draft, it’s not clear that anyone else would have been a better pick.  The big blow of the draft was the early retirement of Quinn Pitcock after a nice rookie year.  Unless Gonzo goes on to have a long career, however, this could end up being a bit of a bust class.  There’s still plenty of time for Gonzo and Session to become Pro Bowl players.  If Ugoh ever blossoms into a player, this could be a very productive class.  It’s important to note that all 9 draftees made the team as well.  As a team becomes elite, it is harder for new players to break through.

4.  Eagles

Total picks: 8

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 135

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick: Brent Celek

Starters drafted: Stewart Bradley (1 season), Brent Celek (1 season)

Summary and Grade: C. It’s totally unfair to grade this class until we know if Kevin Kolb can become a starter.  They’ve dealt McNabb betting that he will.  I’m no fan of Kolb, but we have to let it play out before grading this group.  Celek had a breakout year last year at tight end.

5. Patriots

Total picks: 9

Made team: 1

Total Games Played: 48

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Brandon Meriweather-1)

Best pick:  Meriweather

Starters drafted: Brandon Meriweather (1 season)

Summary and Grade: D No draft in the decade is weirder than the Patriots draft in 2007.  They made two trades that netted Wes Welker and Randy Moss, so obviously they did well over all.  The purpose of this exercise is not to evaluate trades, but rather the actual players picked.  The conventional wisdom about the Pats ’07 draft was that they were so loaded, that they didn’t have room for any of the players they picked.  They were so stacked, that they just had to cut the guys they took.  In this case, the facts don’t support the CW.

The truth is that they made bad picks.  Only four of the 9 players they took made ANY NFL team.  Only two played more than five games in the league.  Only one has become a starter (Meriweather).  Had a bunch of players cut by the Pats become solid starters in the league, I would have given them a better grade, recognizing the depth of their overall roster.  In this case, they took a bunch of stiffs, and were unable to replenish their roster.  When you hear analysts say things like “the Pats look old”, you can point to the 2007 draft as the reason.  The Patriots made one good pick and a bunch of terrible ones.

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