Judging the Draft: Indianapolis Colts 2003

Kyle Rodriguez reviews the 2003 draft in an in-depth study of the Colts’ recent drafting.

This is the sixth 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-)

1999 Draft (A)

2000 Draft (B+)

2001 Draft (A)

2002 Draft (B)

The string of solid first round picks continued in 2003, as the Colts nabbed Dallas Clark in the 1st round. But the story of this draft wasn’t the successful first round pick, but what transpired in the later rounds. 

#24 TE Dallas Clark

Production: (A)

Career AV (season average): 8.875

Average #24 AV: 6.366

Median #24 AV: 5.75

Dallas Clark has been one of the most productive tight ends of this decade, especially in 2009 when he caught 100 passes for over 1100 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s been incredibly important for the offense, exemplified by the 2010 season. After Clark went down in Week 6 the offense struggled, and Manning threw 15 interceptions in the next 10 games.

Need: (B+)

The Colts had a lot of needs on defense with the 29th ranked defense, with holes at linebacker, defensive tackle, and cornerback. But, the Colts’ two TE system had been lacking since Ken Dilger left after the 2001 season, and Clark turned out to be a perfect fit.

Pre-Draft Rankings: (B+)

Clark was ranked as the top pass-catching tight end of the 2003 draft class, and was the first taken. He was predicted to go in the late first, which he did.

Context:

Average Career AV for next 10 picks (total): 34.3

Clark’s Career AV: 71

Clark was a great pick, but Nick Barnett and Nnamdi Asomugha were both picked in the next ten picks. The Colts defense could have looked much different with either of these players on the roster, particularly Asomugha.

Overall: (A-)

Clark was a great pick, and has been a key cog in the offense for years. But I take it down a notch, just because the defense still had a long ways to go, and likely should have been addressed with this first pick.

#58 S Mike Doss

Production: (C) Career AV: 3

Average #58 AV: 3.62

Median #58 AV: 3

Doss started for the Colts for three and a half years, but was never better than average. He was below average for a late second rounder, but not by much. He was a decent stopgap for the Colts at safety until they drafted Antoine Bethea, but nothing more.

Need: (B)

The Colts needed a new strong safety. Doss started his rookie year, replacing 2002′s primary starter Jason Doering. But, as said before, linebacker, defensive tackle, and cornerback were more glaring weaknesses.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (A+)

Doss was ranked either first or second in safety rankings, (second only to Troy Polamalu, who went 16 overall), predicted to go in the late first or early second. But, he slipped all the way to the end of the second, the third safety taken.

Context:

Average for next 10: 25.6

Doss’ career AV: 18

The big miss out of this group was linebacker Lance Briggs. Again, the Colts needed help at linebacker, and Briggs would have been a huge help over the last nine years.

Overall: (B-) Doss didn’t turn out to be the replacement at safety that the Colts were looking for, but he was the a good way to go at the time. Unfortunately, the Colts missed big-time on Briggs.

#90 CB Donald Strickland

Production: (C)

Career AV: 1.625

Average #90 AV: 1.88

Median #90 AV: 1.625

Strickland turned out to be a decent depth cornerback for his career, but nothing else. Pretty par for the course for a late third round pick, but Strickland only stayed with the Colts for two years, and was injured for a large part of the second year.

Need: (A)

The Colts defensive backfield has needed help for the last ten years, and it seems like cornerbacks are always a priority (or should be) in the drafts.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (B-)

Strickland was ranked between 8th and 14th at cornerback, and predicted to go in either the third or fourth. He was the 9th taken in the late third round.

Context:

Average for next 10: 14.3

Strickland’s AV: 13

All the next ten were mainly just depth players, with Visanthe Shiancoe being the best option. With Clark being drafted in the first round, Shiancoe didn’t make sense here.

Overall: (B-) Strickland probably could have waited until later to go, but it was the right direction to go at the time. Strickland was about average for the late third round, but it was hoped that he would be more than that.

#122 G Steve Sciullo Production:(C+)

Career AV: 5

Average #122 AV: 1.98

Median #122 AV: 2.25

The numbers here are a little misleading. Sciullo only played with the Colts for one year before being cut, although he did start for 13 games.

Need: (A)

Guard was actually the biggest hole on the offense, and Sciullo could play both guard and tackle. If the Colts weren’t going to go defense, guard was the best direction to go.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (B)

Sciullo was ranked anywhere from 7th to 13th among offensive tackles (where he played in college), predicted to go anywhere from the third to fifth round. He was the tenth tackle to go, in the late fourth round.

Context:

Average AV of next 10: 9.6

Sciullo’s Career AV: 10

Brandon Lloyd and Ike Taylor were the only two players with better careers than Sciullo, but their careers were far better. Taylor in particular could have been a great addition to the Colts.

Overall: (C+) For the pick number, not bad, but he only lasted one year, and wasn’t what the Colts were looking for. Missing on Taylor and Lloyd was painful.

#138 DE Robert Mathis

Production: (A+)

Career AV: 5.5

Average #138 AV: 1.99

Median #138 AV: 1.5

Mathis has been a great counterpart to Dwight Freeney on the defensive line. Again, I feel that the AV is underwhelming for him. It tends to undervalue pass-rushing DEs when they don’t play the run as well and get a bunch of tackles. But even with underwhelming numbers, Mathis is by far the most productive 138 pick in the last 13 years.

Need: (C)

Colts still had veteran Chad Bratzke and up-and-coming Raheem Brock opposite of Dwight Freeney. If they wanted to go with the defensive line, then tackle would have been a much better option (although, in hindsight, it was a good move).

Pre-Draft Ranking: (B+)

Ranked anywhere from 8th to 20th among outside linebackers, the position he was supposed to play at. He was projected to go anywhere from the 4th to 7th round. He was taken as the 15th OLB, in the early 5th round. He didn’t slip far, but turned out to be a major steal.

Context:

Average of the next 10: 12.5

Mathis’ career AV: 44

Only other player who would have been worth picking would have been DT Aubrayo Franklin, but even he hasn’t had near the career of Mathis.

Overall: (A) Mathis wasn’t a big need, and he likely could have lasted longer, although I don’t know if he would have lasted until #162, the Colts next pick. However, he was clearly the best player on the board at the time, and turned out to be a steal of a pick.

#162 LB Kenyon Whiteside

Production: (D)

Career AV: 0

Average #162 AV: 1.12

Median #162 AV: 0.5

Whiteside played in 12 games in two years, mainly in a special teams role.

Need: (A) Linebacker was a big need, with the Colts missing Mike Peterson. The real surprise is just why they waited so long to do it.

Pre-Draft Rankings: (D+)

Whiteside was ranked 10th to 13th among inside linebackers, projected anywhere from the fifth round to undrafted. He was taken as the 8th inside linebacker, in the fifth round. A reach that didn’t work out.

Context:

Average of next ten: 14.1

Whiteside’s career AV: 0

Dan Koppen was still available at this point, and has been a long time starting center for the New England Patriots.

Overall: (C-) While the pick was a position of need, Whiteside was a reach, and one that didn’t work out at all.

#198 LB Cato June

Production: (A)

Career Av: 6.83

Average #198 AV: 1.65

Median #198 AV: 1.33

June was a starting linebacker for the Colts for three years, earning a Pro-Bowl selection in 2005, and a key starter on the 2006 championship team. For a linebacker for the Colts, that’s a very successful period.

Need: (A)

June was the first true OLB taken by the Colts, a big hole they needed to fill, and did with this pick.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (B-)

June was projected to go in the seventh, but the Colts picked him up in the sixth. He played safety in college, so it’s hard to judge based on position, but it does seem like a bit of a reach.

Context:

Average of next 10: 3.8

June’s career AV: 41

June was clearly the best player of this group of picks, in fact, it wasn’t even close.

Overall: (A-) June was a great pick late in the draft, who blossomed into a perfect player for the Colts’ system.

#202 OL Makoa Freitas

Production: (B+)

Career AV: 3.5

Average #208 AV: 0.699

Median #208 AV: 0

Freitas played for two years with the Colts, mostly as a depth utility lineman. Not great production, but for a late sixth round pick, very good.

Need: (B)

OL had already been addressed with Clark and Sciullo, so this could have been gone to a bigger need. However, this late in the draft, you’re looking for anyone who can produce for you.

Pre-Draft Ranking: (B)

Freitas was ranked between 9 and 12 among guards, projected anywhere from late 5th to the early 7th. He was taken 10th in the late sixth. Sounds about right to me.

Context:

Average for next 10: 4.6

Freitas career AV: 7

Yeremiah Bell would have been a good safety for the Colts’ defense, but other than that, Frietas was the best choice.

Overall: (B) Freitas wasn’t a big producer for the Colts, but for the last pick of their draft, it was very good production.

2003 Draft Overall

Sum of Colts’ Averages: 34.33

Sum of Average AVs: 19.32 (Median: 15.96)

Total of Colts’ CarAV: 204

Totals of Next 10 picks CarAV Averages: 118.8

Total +/-: +85.2

Hit %: 5/8- 62.5%

The Colts nailed this draft, getting three stars in Mathis, June, and Clark, along with depth players from four of the five remaining picks. Only one of the eight picks resulted in a player that had no impact on the Colts, and five of the eight were definite hits. That’s incredible. Overall, I give the Colts an A+ for this draft, easily one of the best drafts in the Polian era. 

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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