Judging the Draft: Indianapolis Colts 1999

Kyle Rodriguez reviews the 1999 draft by the Colts. (Originally published 10/11/11)

This is the second part in a season-long series assessing the effectiveness of the last 13 years of drafting. For details on how the drafts are judged see the first post in the series (1998 draft). 

1998 Draft (A-)

NOTE: Midway through the series (2002) I added some numbers to the ‘context’ section. After seeing an idea proposed by Collin McCollough (Colts blogger and B/R NFL Editor), I decided to take a specific look at the next ten picks after the Colts’ spot. While we already judge the pick’s production in a historical sense under the production section, this part will add to seeing the pick in the context of the specific draft itself. Here, we’ll just be looking at the career total AV’s, since all the picks have had the same opportunity to play, in terms of time. Those numbers have been added to the sections earlier than 2002 now, including the 1998 post published yesterday.

#4 RB Edgerrin James Production: (A+)

Career AV (Season Average): 12.36

Average #4 AV: 7.32

Median #4 AV: 6.33

Edge was one of the most productive Colts of the Manning era, and his AV would have been higher if I wouldn’t have included his post-Colts numbers. James was an All-Pro and four-time Pro-Bowler with the Colts, and the Colts’ running game has never looked the same since he left.

Need: (A)

The Colts traded star running back Marshall Faulk two days before the draft, leaving a gaping hole at the running back position. The names Keith Elias, Scott Greene, and Darick Holmes didn’t exactly induce fear in opposing defensive coordinators. The Colts needed a star running back, and everybody knew it.

Pre-Draft Rankings: (A-)

Ricky Williams was pretty much unanimously ranked ahead of James, but it was also widely regarded that the difference between the two was negligible. James was seen as a likely top five pick regardless, but the Colts did shock the experts by going with James instead of Williams.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 59.2

James’ Career AV: 114

The Colts needed a running back, and James was the right pick here. There were other very good players left, but that is expected when the pick is so high. While players like Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, and Champ Bailey were all picked soon after, it was widely known that the Colts would (and should) go with either James or Williams. Turned out that they made the right choice.

Overall: (A) James was a home run of a pick, plain and simple. He filled a huge need, and the Colts’ instincts (having James ahead of Williams) turned out to be right.

#36 LB Mike Peterson Production: (B+)

Career AV: 7.42

Average #36 AV: 4.54

Median #36 AV: 4.2

Out of all the 36th overall picks in the last thirteen years, only Chad Ochocinco (2001) has had a higher season average (10.2). Peterson’s ranking would be higher, but his production with the Colts wasn’t as high as his later years with Jacksonville. Although, to be fair, that was partially due to injury problems during the train wreck season of 2001. Plus, Indy’s defense doesn’t exactly allow linebackers to shine.

Need: (A)

Linebacker was the Colts second biggest need in 1999, after the recently vacated spot of running back. Picking up Peterson here, after James in the first, meant the draft was going exactly to plan.

Pre-Draft Rankings: (A)

Peterson was ranked the second best outside linebacker of the draft, which is exactly when he was taken. He was however predicted to be taken in the first round, so getting him in the second was a deal for the Colts. In a draft that was supposed to be weak at OLB, Peterson turned out to be a great second round pick.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 32.3

Peterson’s Career AV: 72

There were a few solid pickups in the picks following the Colts, such as Nebraska defensive end Mike Rucker, drafted by the Panthers at pick 38. Another possible miss was CB Dre Bly at #41. The Colts did need a starting DE, and depth in the secondary, but the prospect of Peterson and the need for a linebacker won out.

Overall: (A) Another solid pick for the 1999 draft. So far, this draft was going perfectly, with two picks that filled needs and worked out to perfection.

#63 OG Brandon Burlsworth

Production: (-)

Brandon Burlsworth is one of the most tragic, yet inspiring stories I’ve seen in my experience following the NFL. Burlsworth was a walk-on at Arkansas, but became an All-SEC guard by his junior year, and an All-American in his senior season. Burlsworth was incredibly smart, attaining his Masters degree before being drafted. Unfortunately, on his way home from college to go to church with his mother, Burlsworth died in a tragic car accident. He never played in the NFL. To learn more about Burlsworth, check out the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation.

Need: (B)

The Colts needed a guard to replace Larry Moore, who was playing center in 1999, but there were bigger needs, especially at defensive end and in the secondary.

Pre-Draft Rankings: (C)

Burlsworth was ranked at about seventh or eighth in terms of guards, but was only the third one chosen. He was an All-American, but didn’t have the physical tools some of the other guards did. He did however, have the work ethic and determination, something that would have given him a big advantage.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 19.6

Burlsworth’s Career AV: -

The Colts didn’t miss on anybody in the third round, especially when looking at the key positions of DE, CB, and S. The only possible note would be Joey Porter, but the Colts really weren’t looking for 3-4 OLB’s.

Overall: I can’t give a grade here. Based on the need and pre-draft ranking alone, it’s around a B-, but Burlsworth had the drive to succeed in the NFL, but never got the chance. It’s a tragic and unfortunate story.

#96 CB Paul Miranda

Production: (D-)

Career AV: .33

Average #96 AV: 1.94

Median #96 AV: 1.5

Only had one season with the Colts out of his three-year career. He played in five games in Indianapolis, with one assisted tackle. He played in a total of 16 games in his short career.

Need: (A-)

Only two glaring needs stood out (that had not been addressed) at this point in the draft, secondary and defensive end. The Colts tried to address the former with this pick. The grade does get knocked down here due to a solid defensive end still being available (see Context).

Pre-Draft Rankings: (C)

Miranda was taken ahead of several cornerbacks ranked ahead of him, most notably Kenny Wright (120th overall), who went on to have a decent career as an occasional starting CB.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 15.2

Miranda’s Career AV: 1

Other than Wright, the only other overlook here was defensive end Aaron Smith, drafted at #109 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Overall: (C-) Give the Colts credit for trying to fill a need here, but there were better options available.

#138 DE Brad Scioli

Production: (B+)

Career AV: 2.5

Average #138 AV: 1.99

Median #138 AV: 1.5

Scioli was a decent rotational defensive end for six years for the Colts, and had above average production for his position.

Need: (A-) The Colts needed a defensive end, and it hasn’t been addressed yet in the draft. The only reason it’s knocked down to A- is because it should have been addressed sooner.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (B+) Scioli was predicted to go in the 4th-5th round, going early in the fifth. He did slip a bit, considering that a few DE’s ranked behind him were taken in front of him.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 12.2

Scioli’s Career AV: 14

Linebacker Eric Burton (146 overall) was the only one was a consistent starter from this group. 

Overall: (B) The Colts got above average production from Scioli for six years. Solid pick, but not exceptional.

#210 Hunter Smith

Production: (B) Career AV: -

Average AV: 1.38

Median AV: 1.5

PFR doesn’t keep AV for kickers or punters, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that a starting punter for 10 years is more productive than a 1.38.

Need: (B) The Colts’ starting punter, Chris Gardoki, was going into free agency, and the Colts needed a replacement. It wasn’t as key of a position as other needs, but it needed to be addressed sometime.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (C) Ranked the third best punter prior to the draft, Smith was taken second. However, the difference between Smith and the top two however, was very negligible.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 10.5

Smith’s Career AV: -

The Colts could have taken Donald Driver with this pick.

Overall: (B-) Again, a solid pick with this one. Nothing great, but the Colts got what they needed from a seventh round pick.

#250 LB Corey Terry 

Production: (D)

Career AV: 0.5

Average #250 AV: 1.2

Median #250 AV: 0

The average AV was skewed quite a bit due to the high production from four of the thirteen picks. The majority of the picks didn’t have any production, so for Terry to get any production was above average. However, Terry didn’t do it with the Colts, never playing a down with the Colts.

Need: (A-)

As stated earlier, linebacker was a 201big need for the Colts.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (C+)

Terry was projected to go late 7th, so this was completely understandable.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 3 picks (only 3 left): 1.67

Terry’s Career AV: 0

This was the fourth to last pick in the draft, so there’s not much left there for picking.

Overall: (B-) The Colts didn’t get production from Terry, but that wasn’t unexpected for that late of a pick. They went in the right direction with the pick, but for that late of a pick, it’s unlikely you get anything from it.

1999 Draft Overall

Sum of Colts’ AV averages: 23.11

Sum of average picks: 21.32 (Medians: 18.8)

Total CarAV of Colts’ picks: 201 (No Hunter Smith or Brandon Burlsworth)

Total of the Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 150.67

Total Context +/-: +50.33 (W/O numbers from Smith/Burlsworth)

Hit %: 4/7- 57.1%, w/o Burlsworth it is 66.67%

While the numbers look close for the AV Average numbers, this draft by the Colts was awesome (as seen by the Context totals). Only one of the Colts’ seven picks was a bad pick, but the loss of Burlsworth brought down the Colts’ total numbers at the end. While Miranda was a bad pick, the rest of the picks were a success. It’s drafts like this that gave the Colts a good base for a dynasty for years to come.

Again, it should be noted that Brandon Burlsworth’s story is a tragic one, and one that should be remembered. He was a perennial Colt, a player who worked hard to get from nowhere to All-American, a player who’s biggest attributes were hard work and determination.

In the end though, even the tragic story of Burlsworth wasn’t enough to derail this draft, and the Colts’ get a solid A, something that experts agreed with even then (as long as James turned out better than Williams, which he did).

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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