In this new Pro Football Focus series, we’re going back to look at three years worth of draft classes for each team (2008 through 2010, with it being too soon to look at 2011) and putting the picks through our own grading scheme with our Draft Grader.
Every draft pick (this does not include undrafted free agents) will get a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Up first then it’s the Indianapolis Colts who found out just how hard life can be when you don’t have Peyton Manning calling the shots. They sauntered to the worst record in the league, and forced Jim Irsay–normally busy quoting song lyrics on Twitter–to get active and end the Colts careers of the Polians and Jim Caldwell. Did Bill and Chris deserve it? Let’s look at each pick to see if they dropped the ball with their drafting.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
Unfortunately, Curtis Painter didn’t follow in Brady’s footsteps.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
These weren’t drafts where the Colts found many steals.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Pierre Garcon, WR (205th overall pick in 2008): While not as big a fan as some, you can’t deny Garcon made plays for the Colts on his way to picking up a healthy 2519 yards for Indianapolis in four years. Capable of the sublime (and ridiculous), Garcon saw the field more than any other player for the Colts from the 2008 draft class.
Pat McAfee, P (222nd overall pick in 2009): Not just a fine punter, McAfee is an excellent kick off guy who also puts himself out there on special teams (he led the team in special teams tackles in 2011).
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Philip Wheeler, LB (93rd overall pick in 2008): Enjoyed some success on special teams initially, before finding his feet as a two-down linebacker in 2011 where he was our 13th-ranked 4-3 OLB in run defense.
Jacob Tamme, TE (127th overall pick in 2008): Hidden behind Dallas Clark at the start of his career, Tamme exploded with a fine year in 2010 when Clark was lost for the season. There he had our fourth-highest receiving grade for any tight end.
Pat Angerer, LB (63rd overall pick in 2010): Don’t be fooled by the tackle counts, Angerer isn’t that good. He did however take a big step forward this year and got better as the season went on, highlighting his potential with a virtuoso display against Tennessee in Week 15.
Ricardo Mathews, DT (238th overall pick in 2010): While Matthews has rarely stood out, that’s a good thing when you consider that Colts defensive tackles usually stand out through ineptitude. A solid rotational body.
Kavell Conner, LB (240th overall pick in 2010): Not cut out for an every-down role, the 2011 Colts asked too much out of Conner and he responded with our fourth-lowest grade of all 4-3 OLBs. Has always looked good coming downhill, and looks like a find but needs to be taken off the field for obvious passing situations.
Austin Collie, WR (127th overall pick in 2009): How good could Collie be but for those concussion problems? His 2010 season looked like it would establish him as one of the premier slot receivers in the league, instead it’s only acted as a tease as to what could have been.
0.0: It could have been a lot worse
Jerraud Powers, CB (92nd overall pick in 2009): The former Auburn cornerback isn’t going to be confused with Darrelle Revis any time soon, but it could be a lot worse. He’s got better since starting as a rookie, though it remains to be seen how he’ll fit in with a new coaching staff.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Mike Pollak, G (59th overall pick in 2008): Floated in and out of the starting lineup after tough rookie year. He did show improvement in 2011, but never enough to make you forget about how bad he was initially.
Marcus Howard, DE (161st overall pick in 2008): After playing 69 snaps in 2008, Howard didn’t see a defensive snap again for the Colts.
Tom Santi, TE (196th overall pick in 2008): Not cut out for life in the NFL, Santi lasted 127 snaps which resulted in an atrocious -8.2 grade.
Steve Justice, G (201st overall pick in 2008): When Justice got on the field in 2008 he actually performed reasonably well. Alas we’d never get a chance to grade him again as that was his only NFL action.
Mike Hart, RB (202nd overall pick in 2008): It never really worked out for Hart in the NFL. Injuries played their part but when opportunities presented themselves, he just wasn’t up to the tasking of taking them.
Jamey Richard, C/G (236th overall pick in 2008): After looking out of his depth as a rookie, the Colts waited until 2010 before putting Richard back on the field for significant action. Unfortunately, he still looked ill-equipped to handle defensive players in the NFL.
Donald Brown, RB (27th overall pick in 2009): After two years in the league, Brown was halfway down the road to Bustville, only to offer some hope for the future with an encouraging (if not spectacular) 2011. Still has a long way to go to live up to his drafting.
Curtis Painter, QB (201st overall pick in 2009): Given a chance to step in for the injured Manning, Painter looked every bit the type of guy you’d rather was holding a clipboard than throwing passes in the NFL.
Jaimie Thomas, ST (236th overall pick in 2009): Found himself on the field for special teams and nothing more in a short NFL career.
Kevin Thomas, CB (94th overall pick in 2010): A nothing rookie year, Thomas found himself on the field for considerable action in 2011. Responding poorly, he gave up 68.4% of balls thrown his way, at 15.5 yards per catch and with three of them going for touchdowns.
Brody Eldridge, TE (162nd pick in 2010): A blocking tight end who can’t block. That never works out well.
Ray Fisher, CB (246th overall pick in 2010): Cut before the start of the 2010 season, Fisher was a compensatory pick that didn’t work out.
-1.0: What a waste!
Jacques McClendon, G (129th pick in 2010): A fourth round pick who managed just six snaps (as an additional lineman) before the Colts cut their losses.
Terrance Taylor, DT (136th overall pick in 2009): You expect a fourth round pick to make the active roster for the regular season. Taylor was cut within five months of being drafted.
-1.5: The scouts failed, big time!
Fili Moala, DT (56th overall pick in 2009): It takes a special kind of talent to join the Colts and become the worst defensive tackle on the roster. That’s Moala who has failed to make any kind of positive impact in grading negatively year on year, picking up a notably bad -37.0 rating over the past three years.
Jerry Hughes, DE (31st overall pick in 2010): You can never have enough pass rushers right? That depends on whether you have two (like say Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis) who you never want to take off the field in passing situations. After holding out initially, Hughes rarely made his presence felt and is something of a wasted pick. Will Chuck Pagano’s move to a 3-4 scheme give his career hope?
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
There were no Russell/ Leaf hybrids to pick from.
What to say about the Colts draft? They’ve failed to find adequate starters on offense and defense on a consistent basis, relying far too heavily on one key player so that when he was out of the lineup, their glaring draft failures were highlighted all the more. Simply put, finding a good punter, two promising receivers, two linebackers capable of starting, a No. 2 tight end and a body to put in a rotation at defensive tackle just isn’t good enough in three draft classes.
Whether people want to admit it or not, change was needed in Indianapolis and nowhere is that more evident than in their drafting and development of talent.