Grading Polian Vol 2

This is part two of our look back at Bill Polian’s drafts with the Colts.  Today we’ll look at 2002-2005. These were the drafts that laid the foundation for the Super Bowl team.  Remember that when grading a draft, you have to consider not only the stars that were selected, but how many guys made the team and how many actual games the team got out of their draft.  Not ever guy can become an All Pro, but the ability to draft guys who contribute is important.

After I finish with the Colts (today or tomorrow), we’ll look at the other four power teams of the decade (Ravens, Eagles, Steelers, and Pats).

2002

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games Played for Colts: 286 (and counting)

Total Pro Bowls:  5 (Freeney-5)

Best pick:  Dwight Freeney

Worst pick:  Joe Jefferson

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

Could have have had:

Instead of Tripplett:  Clinton Portis (2nd)

Instead of Joe Jefferson:  Brian Westbrook (3rd), Chris Hope (3rd)

Instead of Brian Allen:  Chester Taylor (6th)

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.

2003

Total picks: 8

Made team: 8

Total Games Played for Colts: 378 (and counting: Clark, Mathis)

Total Pro Bowls:  4 (Clark 1, Mathis 2, June 1)

Best pick:  Robert Mathis

Worst pick: Donald Strickland

Starters drafted: Dallas Clark (7 seasons), Mike Doss (3 seasons), Donald Strickland (1 season), Steve Sciullo (1 season), Mathis (6 seasons), Cato June (3 seasons)

Could have have had:

Instead of Clark: Nambi Asomuga (1st round)

Instead of Doss:  Lance Briggs (3rd round), Jason Whitten (3rd round)

Instead of Strickland:  Terrance McGee (4th round), Asante Samuel (4th round)

Summary and Grade: A.  This draft should be an A+ simply because of Mathis in the 5th round and 6 starters taken, not to mention 378 total games played for the Colts.  However, as much as I love Dallas Clark, you have to think the Colts would have been a better team had they taken Asomuga in the first round and Whitten in the second.  Whitten is every bit the threat Clark is, and Asomuga is the best corner in football, and has been for several seasons now.  Still, this kind of draft is the motherload.  Three Pro Bowl caliber players (two selected late) and a slew of starters is a total haul for any team.

2004

Total picks: 9

Made team: 8

Total Games Played for Colts: 251 (and counting: Sanders)

Total Pro Bowls:  2 (Bob Sanders)

Best pick:  Bob Sanders

Worst pick: Kendyll Pope

Starters drafted: Bob Sanders (4 seasons), Gilbert Gardner (1 season), Jason David (3 seasons), Jake Scott (4 seasons)

Could have have had:

Instead of Hartsock: Chris Cooley (3rd round)

Instead of Gardner:  Matt Schuab (3rd round)

Instead of Kendyll Pope: Jerrad Allen (4th round)

Summary and Grade: B.  This was a solid draft that produced four starters, including Bob Sanders.  It was a top heavy draft, but the Colts largely maximized their picks.  Hartsock over Cooley was a bit of a whiff.  It’s easy to understand why the Colts took Gardner over Schaub in third round, but that was obviously disastrous.  The only pick that I’m sure Polian would like back was Kendyll Pope over Jerad Allen in the fourth round, but I think a lot of people would like that pick back  Jim Sorgi was in this draft as well.  Overall, this draft gets down graded because despite producing a game changer, on the whole the Colts got fewer games out of it than any of the others, and because there were a couple of obvious misses.

2005

Total picks: 10

Made team: 8 (Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns made the team but was injured and never played)

Total Games Played for Colts: 275 (and counting: Hayden, Hagler)

Total Pro Bowls: 0

Best pick:  Kelvin Hayden

Worst pick: Vincent Burns

Starters drafted: Marlin Jackson (2 seasons), Kelvin Hayden (3 seasons), Dylan Gandy (1 season), Tyjuan Hagler (1 season)

Could have have had:

Instead of Jackson: Lofa Tatupu (2nd), Nick Collins (2nd)

Instead of Hayden: Justin Tuck (3rd)

Instead of Burns: Kyle Orton (4th), Brandon Jacobs (4th), Jerome Mathis (4th), Marion Barber (4th)

Instead of Matt Giordano:  Trent Cole (5th)

Instead of David Rayner:  Jay Ratliff (7th)

Summary and grade: B-.  Not the strongest draft, in part because of Jackson’s knee problems.  The real air ball was Vincent Burns, who was taken over several players who went on to significant NFL success.  The most frustrating part of the 2005 draft is that there were several excellent pass rushers available who were not selected.  The 2007 and 2009 seasons might have ended very differently if this draft had gone better.  Still, the Colts pulled down several starters and will likely post more than 300 total games played from this class.  It wasn’t a bad draft so much as a missed opportunity.

 

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