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).
And now we begin. The 2007 draft is one of the most hotly contested cases against Bill Polian, and the year that most people would associate with the beginning of the Colts’ decline in drafting. What most people forget when discussing it is how low in talent the draft was, and while some teams did well (Giants), the draft as a whole was lacking.
1998 Draft (A-)
1999 Draft (A)
2000 Draft (B+)
2001 Draft (A)
2002 Draft (B)
2003 Draft (A+)
2004 Draft (B)
2005 Draft (C)
2006 Draft (A+)
#32 WR Anthony Gonzalez
Career AV (Season average): 4
Average AV for #32: 4.9
Median AV for #32: 4.5
As our own Nate Dunlevy put it last August, Anthony Gonzalez was rare. After having phenomenal rookie and sophomore seasons, Gonzalez sprained his knee on a freak injury during the first game of the season. He would go on to miss the rest of the season, as well as the majority of the 2010 season with multiple injuries. Gonzalez, even more so than Marlin Jackson from 2005, was very productive before getting hurt, and had his promising career cut short. The current Colts team with a healthy Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, and Anthony Gonzalez would have a much different feel to it.
The Colts needed a young, budding receiver to eventually replace Marvin Harrison, who was not getting any younger. However, the defensive side of the ball needed work, especiall with the loss of Cato June to free agency, and defensive tackle still being poor.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (C+)
Gonzalez was ranked 6-8th among receivers, and projected to go in the early second round. He was taken 6th at the end of the first. The Colts evidently knew they wanted a receiver, and Gonzalez seemed like the “safe” pick to excel in a Manning-led offense. (Ironically, the one player who most people bemoan passing on, Steve Smith, has ended the last two seasons on IR, and has just one season better than Gonzalez’ first two.)
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 15.2
Gonzalez CarAV: 16
Paul Posluzny and Eric Weddle are the biggest misses here, as they would have given the Colts more firepower on defense. However, the Colts were set at MLB and safety (or so they thought) at the time, what they really needed was depth at cornerback and OLB. In that sense, Chris Houston may have been the best pick at the time, and he’s been, well, uninspiring.
Gonzalez’ career has been a disappointing one to say the least, but it’s hard to blame the Colts for that. Freak knee injury aside, Gonzalez was primed to break out in 2009 and become a star. Yeah, now it hurts to see that the Colts missed on Posluzny and Weddle, but at the time the Colts really didn’t need another safety or MLB, so the blame there is dulled.
#42 OT Tony Ugoh
Career AV: 4.25
Average AV: 5.31
Median AV: 5.2
It’s often forgotten that Ugoh was actually pretty good for a rookie during 2007 when he was thrown into the fire at left tackle. However after that, it was pretty down hill. Rumor was that Ugoh’s attitue (which was known to be suspect before the draft) was causing him to regresss, instead of improve, and the Colts eventually replaced him with Charlie Johnson. But, his contributions in 2007 and 2008 were valuable, and should not be thrown out.
The Colts needed a left tackle to eventually replace Tarik Glenn, who was expected to retire after the following season. But, Glenn retired early, making Ugoh even more valuable.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C)
Ugoh was taken right where he was expected, but two things are disconcerting about it:
A. Gave up their 2008 first round pick.
B. It was widely known that Ugoh’s attitude was suspect, and that is what eventually led to his downfall.
Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 13.1
Ugoh’s CarAV: 16
LaMarr Woodley and David Harris are the big misses here, especially with the Colts’ needs at linebacker, but everyone else was medioce to bad here (Sidney Rice has had one good season).
Before you come at me with pitch forks and torches, hear me out.
Was Ugoh disappointing? Yes, we wanted and hoped that he would be a franchise left tackle.
Was it an awful decision by the Colts to draft him? I don’t think so.
It was a decent decision to draft him, albeit not great. Why? Because without him, the Colts have nobody to play left tackle in 2007 and 2008. The Colts needed a left tackle, and Ugoh was the best one left in the draft (Jermon Bushrod, Ryan Harris, and Doug Free have turned out decent seasons, but they weren’t ready to start in 2007). Charlie Johnson turned out to be a passable stopgap, but he was downright bad in ’07-’08. The Colts needed a left tackle, and Ugoh was the best choice. The loss of the 2008 first round pick hurts, but the Colts had to do it to get a left tackle.
#95 CB Daymeion Hughes
Career AV: 0.75
Average AV for #95: 2.17
Median AV for #95: 1
Hughes competed with Tim Jennings for dime/nickel spots for a couple of years, but was cut in the 2009 preseason.
The Colts needed depth behind Jackson and Hayden at cornerback, with Nick Harper leaving via free agency.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (A+)
Hughes was seen as a potential first round pick before slow 40 times in his combine caused him to slip. Even so, he was seen as a second round pick, early third round at the latest. The Colts got him at the end of the third, and it looked to be a perfect fit, as Hughes was expected to be able to contribute right away in a zone system.
CarAV of next 10 picks: 4.2
Hughes CarAV: 3
The best player of the next 10 picks is Michael Bush. Yeah, you could say 2007 was a bad draft.
Remember, this is a grade of the pick, not the player. The Colts needed a cornerback, and Hughes looked to be a huge steal at #95 overall, especially considering the lack of talent surrounding him. The fact that he didn’t pan out is just one of the nuances of the draft.
#98 DT Quinn Pitcock
Career AV: 2
Average AV for #98: 2.94
Median AV for #98: 2.44
Quinn Pitcock played decently as a rotational tackle during his rookie year. Unfortunately, he surprisingly retired during the offseason, which was later revealed to be due to depression and a video game addiction. It’s depressing for fans as well, as the Colts were in desperate need of defensive tackles, and Pitcock seemed to have potential.
Defensive tackle seems to be permanently affixed on the top of the Colts’ list.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C)
Pitcock was projected anywhere from the late third to the mid fifth round, ranked 9th among defensive tackles. He was the 9th tackle taken in the late third.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 6.8
Pitcock’s CarAV: 2
Safety Tenard Jackson is the only miss here, and would be welcome on the current squad, although the 2007 Colts were not in dire need of him.
Pitcock’s demise due to depression is a sad one, but one that was extremely harmful for the Colts, who lost one of their most promising tackle prospects.
#131 S Brannon Condren
Career AV: 0.5
Average AV for #131: 2.08
Median AV for #131: 1
Condren has bounced from team to team as a special teams player, never sticking anywhere.
The Colts could have used depth at safety, but there were much bigger problems.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (D-)
I have no idea what the Colts were going with here, as Condren was seen as a 6th round prospect at the very best, but was most likely thought to be a special teams contributor. For the Colts to use their fourth round pick on him made little sense.
Average CarAV: 7.1
Condren’s CarAV: 1
Steve Breaston was picked at #142, and would have given the Colts a weapon to use at PR/KR, as well as another competitor for WR. Not much else here though, except for bit players.
Condren made very little sense at the time, and his failure to pan out isn’t surprising.
#136 LB Clint Sesion
Career AV: 4.5
Average AV for #136: 1.72
Median AV for #136: 1
Session turned into a starting linebacker during his sophomore year, and was a hard-hitting fan favorite by his breakout year in 2009. He was injured for most of 2010, but that didn’t stop Jacksonville from signing him to a 5-year, $29 million dollar contract.
Gilbert Gardner started for the majority of the 2006-2007 season. That’s how bad the linebacker core was for the Colts for the 2007 draft.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C)
The Colts gambled again on a player, nabbing Session with their fourth round compensatory pick. Session was, like Condren, seen as a special teams player to be taken in the 6th or later, but this time it worked out, as Session turned into a good starting linebacker.
Average CarAV for next ten picks: 7.4
Session’s CarAV: 17
Again, Breaston is the only notable.
I’ll take off some for reaching on Session, but overall it was a very good pick, getting an impact player at a position of great need.
#169 WR Roy Hall
Career AV: 0
Average AV of #169: 1.29
Median AV of #169: 0.5
Hall played in seven games in two years, catching one pass.
Having drafted Gonzalez already, there were bigger needs, such as RB, DT, and LB.
Pre-Draft Production: (D)
Hall was ranked as a 7th rounder or UDFA, seen as a special teams prospect at best. Hall never caught more than 17 passes in college, so this projection made sense to me.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 3.7
Hall’s CarAV: 0
William Gay has developed into a decent cornerback for the Steelers, and would have been a good pickup for the late fifth round. Legedu Naanee was also picked after Hall, and would have been a better receiver prospect.
This happens a lot this late in the draft (especially this particular draft), but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it made very little sense to draft Hall.
#173 CB Michael Coe
Career AV: 0.33
Average AV for #173: 2.34
Median AV for #173: 1.75
Coe played sparingly with the Colts for one year, and has had similar roles with Jacksonville and the Giants since.
Depth at corner was essential for the Colts.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (B)
Coe was all over the draft boards, seen as high as a third round prospect, and as low as a seventh.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 3
Coe’s CarAV: 1
Kicker Nick Folk was the only one to pan out.
Coe didn’t pan out, but this late in the draft that’s fairly common, especially in 2007.
#242 DT/DE Keyunta Dawson
Career AV: 3.5
Average AV of #242: 1.06
Median AV of #242: 0
Normally, I’d grade this production higher, but I think his AV is inflated a bit, simply because the Colts had no other options. Dawson filled in as best as he could, but was pretty bad.
Defensive line rotation can always use players.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (B)
Dawson was seen as a UDFA, someone who would fit in as an OLB in a 3-4 system, but the Colts drafted him in the seventh and used him as a jack-of-all-trades, mainly at defensive end, but occasionally at defensive tackle (2008 debacle).
Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 4.2
Dawson’s CarAV: 13
Ahmad Bradshaw would have been a great complement to Joseph Addai, but a running back in the seventh round is usually expected to be a special teams contributor, nothing more.
Fans may loathe Dawson, but for the Colts to get the production out of him that they did is very good for a late seventh rounder.
2007 Draft Overall
Sum of Colts’ Averages: 19.83
Sum of Average AVs (historically): 23.83 (Median: 17.39)
Sum of Colts’ CarAVs: 69
Sum of next ten picks average AVs: 64.7
Hit %: 4/9- 44%
The Colts had nine picks in this draft, which was unfortunate because this draft was awful, talent wise. As you can see, the Colts were middling in this draft, below average historically, but above the median. In the context of the draft itself, the Colts early picks under achieved, but the Colts committed no huge gaffes by missing players.
Looking at the individual picks, it’s hard to put much blame on the front office. Gonzalez was a great pick until injuries wrecked it. Ugoh wasn’t what we needed him to be in the end, but he was the right pick for the time, and we needed him in ’07 and ’08. Hughes was a steal, and one that was just unfortunate that he didn’t work out. Pitcock looked like very good value, and then a depression caused him to retire after a promising rookie season. Session was great value at #136, and Dawson was even a producer. Condren, Hall, and Coe weren’t good picks, but they were also late picks in a bad draft. The talent around them was almost non-existent.
So, for the 2007 draft, I give the Colts a B-. Remember, that’s not a judgment of the players themselves (as many draft grades are), but of the picking of the players at that time and place. I think when you look at the individual picks, it’s difficult to justify placing lower grades on the front office for the picks they made at the time.
So that’s that. Tear it apart!