This is the eighth 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).
According to many people, the 2006 draft was the last great draft of the Polians, before their so-called decline began. While I may not agree with most that the Polians declined after 2006, I can say with 100% certainty that this draft was fantastic, a draft where the Colts got talent from their early picks, as well as their late round picks.
1998 Draft (A-)
1999 Draft (A)
2000 Draft (B+)
2001 Draft (A)
2002 Draft (B)
2003 Draft (A+)
2004 Draft (B)
2005 Draft (C)
#30 RB Joseph Addai
Career AV Average: 10.2
Average #30 AV: 6.45
Median $30 AV: 7.27
While it may surprise some that Addai’s AV is so high, the fact is that when healthy, he has been an outstanding weapon out of the backfield. He suffered when the offensive line play fell from 2008-2010, but he’s always been adept at finding even the smallest holes to squeeze through. With Manning he was a sensational weapon catching the ball as well, especially in the 2006 Super Bowl run. Speaking of Super Bowl runs, Addai was fantastic in both the 2006 and 2009 playoffs, including both Super Bowls. He’s had some health problems in the past few years, but when healthy he’s an A+ for this late in the round.
The Colts needed to replace Edge at running back, and Dominic Rhodes was not going to cut it.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (A)
Addai was seen as a late first round or early second round pick, the fourth or fifth best running back. He was taken with the 30th pick, the 4th back taken. Maurice Jones-Drew, who was pretty unanimously ranked behind him, has had a better career thus far.
Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 17.5
Addai’s CarAV: 47
Of the next few picks, the only one that I could see as a viable alternative for the Colts would have been DeMeco Ryan, who has been very good for the Texans. However, the Colts had Gary Brackett at the time, who they were fairly confident in.
Addai was a great pick for the Colts, helping them get to two Super Bowls and win one. He was great value at the end of the round, and was a position that the Colts were in great need of.
#62 CB Tim Jennings
Career AV (Season average): 3.6
Average #62 AV: 3
Median #62 AV: 3.6
Jennings was bemoaned by many Colts fans, especially in 2009, for his cushions (much like Jacob Lacey) and seemingly soft play. However, Jennings did what coaches told him to do, which was to not give up the big play, while sacrificing the easy completions. With his transition to Chicago over the last two years however, he has shown an ability to cover receivers in tight one-on-one coverage as well (although he still drops easy picks). While Jennings didn’t develop right away, once he did, he showed himself to be a very capable corner.
The Colts had bigger needs at areas like defensive tackle, linebacker, and wide reciever, but depth was necessary for the secondary.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (B-)
Jennings was ranked anywhere from 10th to 16th among cornerbacks, and projected anywhere from the late second round to the fourth round. He was taken in the late second as the eighth cornerback taken. For what it’s worth, only Cortland Finnegan was taken after Jennings and had a better career (he was a seventh round pick).
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 12
Jennings’ CarAV: 16
Tackle Eric Winston (now on the Texans) is the only player that would have had a better return, especially with recent woes of the offensive tackles.
Jennings won’t ever be appreciated by Colts fans, much like Jacob Lacey, but he has developed quite nicely as a player, and I (for one) wish he was still on the Colts.
#94 LB Freddie Keiaho
Career AV: 4.25
Average AV for #94: 2.82
Median AV for #94: 3.67
Keiaho started as a special teams player for the Colts, but quickly worked his way into the Colts’ thin linebacker rotation, becoming the starter in 2007 and 2008. He was nicked up a few times, missing seven games in those two years, and his career ended with him being on IR for Jacksonville. Keiaho was moved to MLB several times when Brackett was out, but he was awful at it. However, Keiaho was a good rotational guy to have, and he was a decent starter at OLB on two teams that were top ten defensively.
David Thornton was leaving, which left only Gilbert Gardner on the outside. Enough said.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C)
Keiaho was an interesting player, in that he was a wild card. Some scouts had him as a 3rd round pick, some as a 6/7th round pick. Most of that indecision was due to his size, while he was a great LB at San Diego State, he was only 5-11 and 224 lbs. But, the Polians took him in the late third, and made sure they got him.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 8.7
Keiaho’s CarAV: 16
Only Owen Daniels has had a better career than Keiaho (of the next ten picks), but Jahri Evans was picked 14 picks later, and would have helped solidify the edges of the Colts offensive line.
Keiaho was great value for the late third round, but again was a solid player for the Colts whose career was cut short due to injuries. I have to wonder also if his size played a role in his leaving the Colts, as Larry Coyer was hired and they began to shift away from a pure Tampa-2.
#162 OT Michael Toudeze
Career AV: 0.33
Average AV for #162: 1.12
Median AV for #162: 0.5
Toudeze has been a reserve offensive lineman ever since being drafted by the Colts in 2006. He’s been cut and resigned a few times, and never amounted to much more than a fill-in guy at best.
The need wasn’t very high for offensive line in 2006. Nobody knew that Tarik Glenn was planning on retiring after the next season, and the 5th round isn’t the place to look for a franchise left tackle anyway.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (A)
Toudeze was projected as a 5th or sixth rounder, and was taken in the late fifth round. If the Colts had him as the best value left on their draft board, then they were wise to get him while they could.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 4.2
Toudeze’s CarAV: 1
Omar Gaither would have added some depth to the Colts linebacker core.
Toudeze was just one of those picks. He sticks inthe NFL for years, but just barely.
#199 OT Charlie Johnson
Career AV: 6.8
Average #199 AV: 2.2
Median #199 AV: 0.5
Johnson isn’t an elite player by any means, but his ability to play anywhere on the offensive line gives him great value as a utility lineman. He was a starter for the Colts for four years, primarily at tackle, as the Colts struggled to find a long term replacement. Johnson was a blue collar, hardworking player, and one that played through a good deal of pain, especially during the 2010 season. He wasn’t worth the left tackle-type money that Minnesota paid him last year, but he was great value for a sixth round pick.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (B+)
Johnson was seen as an undrafted free agent prospect, but the Colts took him anyway. I don’t blame them for that this late in the draft. This is where you want to take gambles if your scouting team really likes a player, and it paid off with Johnson.
Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 4.4
Johnson’s CarAV: 32
The only player in the next ten worth picking was Antoine Bethea. Success!
The Colts got great value in Johnson, and their calculated gamble played out wonderfully.
#207 S Antoine Bethea
Career AV: 7
Average #207 AV: 1.72
Median #207 AV: 0.67
Bethea has been the Colts’ rock in the secondary for six years now, holding down the defense while other players (namely Bob Sanders) rotated in and out due to injuries. Bethea is a solid tackler and consistent player, a blessing in a unit that has seen much uncertainty over the years.
The Colts needed a dynamic player to replace Mike Doss.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (A)
Bethea was projected as a3rd-4th round pick, fifth round at the latest, but slipped to the end of the sixth round where the Colts snapped him up. I’d say he’s of the best steals of Polian’s career.
Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 6.9
Bethea’s CarAV: 36*
Cortland Finnegan was drafted at #215, but I’d take Bethea over him any day.
*The latest AV for Bethea is missing, estimating what it would be (7), the CarAV would likely be about 36.
Like I said, he’s easily one of the best steals of Polian’s career, if not the best.
#238 CB T.J. Rushing
Career AV: 1
Average #238 AV: 0.82
Median #238 AV: 0.33
Rushing was brought in as a cornerback, but his impact was assumed to be (and was) in the return game. He was the Colts primary punt returner in 2007 and 2009 (spent 2008 on IR). Rushing wasn’t spectacular (not helped by the Colts’ awful special teams over the years), but he held on to the ball (one fumble in 2007) and did score a touchdown on a punt return in 2007 against the Raiders.
The Colts are always looking for a return man, or so it seems, but a return man isn’t going to help much when he doesn’t get blocks.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (B+)
Another steal for the Colts, Rushing was seen as a fifth round prospect by some, but dropped to the late seventh.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 1.2
Rushing’s CarAV: 3
This late in the draft, all the names just blend together.
Just above average for a late seventh rounder, the Colts got a punt return touchdown for a seventh round pick. I’ll take that.
2006 Draft Overall:
Sum of Colts’ Averages: 33.18
Sum of Average AVs: 18.13 (Median: 16.54)
Sum of Colts’ CarAVs: 151
Sum of next 10 picks CarAVs: 54.9 (Colts +/-: +96.1)
Hit %: 6/7- 85.7%
The 2006 draft was an incredibly efficient, getting almost double the average production from their draft picks. They got steals in Bethea and Johnson, hit on their first round picks, and got good production (for their draft spot) from Jennings, Keiaho, and Rushing. It was an A+ draft from the Colts.