Welcome to "What to Expect 2013". This is the final installment in which I'll be looking at the positions the Colts drafted relative to their historic counterparts.
The goal of this series is to set reasonable expectations for the new draft picks based how similarly drafted players in the past decade performed.
This allows us to create fair baselines by which to judge players. The purpose of this series is not to predict performance. The goal is merely to fairly judge rookie seasons.
The Colts selected two offensive players in the seventh round, so let's look at them together. Running back Kerwynn Williams is a speedy, kick-return type of back and Justice Cunningham was Mr. Irrelevant, going last in the draft. He's a big blocking tight end.
Obviously, the hit rate on seventh-round picks is low, so if either player makes the roster it's a win for the Colts.
Running backs have found success recently in the seventh round. The two best-performing backs of the last decade-plus were both selected last year. Bryce Brown had 565 yards rushing for the Eagles and Daryl Richardson had 475 for the Rams. Peyton Hillis, Ahmad Bradshaw and Jason Snelling were all seventh-round backs.
In all, 60-some backs have been selected in the seventh round. 30 played in at least five games in their rookie year. 20 played in at least nine. Only 14 managed at least one start. Only 12 had more than 50 rushing yards in a season.
The story for tight ends is even more bleak. 45 were taken in the seventh round since 2000. 10 failed to appear in even one NFL game. Only 18 played in at least 8 games in their rookie year. One, Brian Jennings of the 49ers, did manage a Pro Bowl appearance in his sixth year in the league. However, that was for his work as a long snapper.
Just two of the tight ends had even 100 receiving yards in their rookie year, and only two had more than 10 catches. Eric Johnson of the 2011 49ers had the best rookie year with 40 catches and 362 yards, but the second best had just 13 for 175.
For Williams, a fair expectation would be for him to play in five or six games, pick up a carry or two for 10 yards and contribute on special teams. That would place him in the top half of seventh-round running backs. Long term, it wouldn't be impossible for him to become a viable contributor. It is something that happens from time to time, though obviously, the odds are against him.
Cunningham shouldn't be expected to catch the ball much, and if he makes the roster or practice squad it's a plus for the Colts.
Again, five or six games played with a catch or two would be reasonable result for the last player taken in the draft.