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BronxColtNYC

Drafting the future, grading the past

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Before I begin, no polian bashing. Let's have an honest non personal debate.

https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/04/07/draft-grader-indianapolis-colts-2/

PFF is doing a draft review for all of the teams 2008-2011.

These assessment grades are based both on player performance AND expectations on where a player was drafted. It takes a lot less performance for a 7th round pick to achieve a higher grade than a 1st round pick due to the expectations of players selected in those rounds.

Here are the colts grades (2.0 being elite talent- -2.0 being bust)

+ 2.0 No one. + 1.5 No one. + 1.0 Pierre Garcon, Pat McAfee + 0.5 Phillip Wheeler, Jacob Tamme, Ricardo Mathews, Kavell Conner, Austin Collie 0.0 Marcus Howard, Tom Santi, Steve Justice, Mike Hart, Jamey Richard, Jerraud Powers, Curtis Painters, Jamie Thomas - 0.5 Mike Pollak, Donald Brown, Pat Angerer, Kevin Thomas, Jacques McClendon, Brody Eldridge, Ray Fishers - 1.0 Fili Moala, Terrance Taylor, Jerry Hughes - 1.5 No one. - 2.0 No one.

The heart and soul of an NFL team is typically their players from their 3rd year until about their 7th year.

Those players are experienced enough to now “know” the NFL game, cheap enough that they are not breaking your salary cap, and still young enough to perform with the younger up and coming NFL studs. More experienced players often can “know” the game and perform well; they are just now a whole lot more expensive!

Our 2007 draft class would be entering their 7th year of play in 2013 and look who was drafted:

2007, Rd 1, # 32: Anthony Gonzalez 2007, Rd 2, # 42: Tony Ugoh 2007, Rd 3, # 95: Daymeion Hughes (who?) 2007, Rd 3, # 98: Quinn pitcock 2007, Rd 4, # 131: Brannon Condren 2007, Rd 4, # 136: Clint Sessions 2007, Rd 5, # 169: Roy Hall 2007, Rd 5, # 173: Michael Coe 2007, Rd 7, # 232: Keyunta Dawson.

Not one of those guys were a strength of this team over the past couple of years.

2008 (entering 6th year of NFL play) Polak Wheeler, Tamme, Howard, Santi, Justice, Hart, Garcon, Richard

2009 (entering 5th year of NFL play): Brown, Moala, Powers, Collie, Taylor, Painter, McAfee, Jamie Thomas

2010 (entering 4th year of NFL play): Hughes, Angerer, Kevin Thomas, McClendon, Eldridge, Mathews, Conner, Fisher

2011 (entering 3rd year of NFL play): Castonzo, Ijalana, Nevis, Carter, Rucker

So out of 39 players drafted by the Colts who are entering their 3rd through 8th year in the NFL, I count few that are probably long-term parts of this team going into 2013: McAfee, Castonzo, and Conner.

some nice bacps and role players (Nevis, perhaps Ijalana, Angerer, Moala, Brown)

-

For years, Polian had some pretty good high end draft selections (Wayne, Freeney, Mathis, Clark, Edge, Sandes [when healthy]) and lower round pickups/UDFA (Saturday, Bethea, Hunter Smith, Gary Brackett, David Thornton and Charlie Johnson). Heck, even Rob Morris had a six-year run (4-years as starter) where he played in 14 games or more per year.

However, starting in about 2007; Polian’s drafts just started falling apart and the talent on team greatly suffered. His last successful draft, IMO, was 2006 where if found Addai, Charlie Johnson and Antoine Bethea in the same draft class.

Many could argue His drafts were also colored by the fact that the Colts were perennial Super Bowl contenders, and had a roster full of All Pro type players. When it came time to pick, how many times did he pass on a good player because of a lack of need at the position? Also, the changing of GM's and philosophy could have added to polians players being offed. Ex: change of offense/defensive schemes. Maybe he got complacent?

Regardless, polian kept us in contention year after year.

When looking back in 2015 or 2016, how many of Grigs' 2012 draft choices do you think we are going to look at as a "strength" of this team? Four? Five? Six? Luck, Allen, Hilton, Ballard, Fleener, Chapman. Time will tell.

Discuss...

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Like you said, we were in contention every year, so between draft picks and FAs he was doing a good job,

I think everyone's biggest complaint would be with the Oline decisions. As you showed, a lot of linemen were brought in with very little success.

Your list of 12 draft picks looks pretty good right now. If we get three more from this draft I'd consider that outstanding simply because as the team gets better there will be fewer openings for starters.

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Like you said, we were in contention every year, so between draft picks and FAs he was doing a good job,

I think everyone's biggest complaint would be with the Oline decisions. As you showed, a lot of linemen were brought in with very little success.

Your list of 12 draft picks looks pretty good right now. If we get three more from this draft I'd consider that outstanding simply because as the team gets better there will be fewer openings for starters.

Biggest complaints were oline and corners. He could.never get the CBs right either.

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I wouldn't be surprised if the 2010 draft class is looked at as a good class in a few years.  And that would be because of the first two picks.  Angerer has performed but Jerry Hughes has just started making his mark this year.  With the loss of Freeney, maybe he will become an even more important contributer and start performing like an first rounder.  Even though he should have long ago.  There are also a few other contributers in the later rounds that have helped us and continue to help us.  The biggest being Kavell Conner and Ricardo Matthews.

 

Towards the end of your post you talked about longterm players and role players and backups.  I disagree with that list.  Both Nevis and Angerer have shown the ability to play at an NFL level, especially Angerer, who has become a very important piece to the defense.

 

Looking back in a few years I would say Luck, Hilton, Allen and possibly Ballard will be considered key players of the offense.  The reason I don't know about Ballard is because of the history of Colts backs, Brown had a good rookie year but then he got hurt and his backups started to perform and he wasn't considered an important piece to the future of the Colts.  It will be interesting what happens this draft and how much defensive talent will be added.  I hope most of our picks are used on the defensive side of the ball, with the exception of the Offensive Line.

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Probably didnt hurt picking at the beginning of each round for Grigs last year as opposed to picking "the left overs" like Polian did due to the Colts success. But still, when you look at that list of names of Colts players drafted, now no where to be seen, it is sickening

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Chris Polian ruined this team.  After Bill took a back seat and let his son take over, our drafts and personnel decision making sucked.

 

Looking back, those drafts were/are embarrassing.  Just.......wow.

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Chris Polian ruined this team. After Bill took a back seat and let his son take over, our drafts and personnel decision making sucked.

Looking back, those drafts were/are embarrassing. Just.......wow.

Yeah, especially taking Donald Brown & Jerry Hughes in the 1st. Wayyyy too early for both of them

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I think people under-estimate the importance of Howard Mudd when he was here.  He is, IMO, hands-down the best OL coach in football.  We also had Peyton Manning running the show -- as I said in a different thread, Peyton changed the game of football by being one of the first QB's to run an offense where the pass was used to open the run, and the run wasn't a very important factor (I think after Edge's injury, this is how the rest of Peyton's time here was).  Anyway, yes, our OL picks (outside of Castanzo) kind of suck -- but, we also had the luxury of Howard Mudd to be able to take a 7th rounder or undrafted kid and shape him into a decent pass protector, and we had Manning and an offense that didn't require bruising blockers, just guys that could protect him for a few seconds and let him get the ball out of his hands.  Unfortunately, the years of lack of real need for smash-mouth OL caught up to us when we lost Peyton and the ability to use the pass to open up the run.  The problem lingered over with a completely new coaching staff and a rookie QB.  Pep says we're going to develop a solid running game under him, well, we aren't going to do it with a line that was built almost entirely to give Peyton 3-4 seconds of protection and never to be a smash-mouth, run-it-down-your-throat unit.  I am somewhat optimistic on Ijalana, though that optimism is fading -- (had a buddy who played DE for Villanova and said Ijalana was by far the best OL he ever played against as a 3 year starter).

 

Then keep in mind, that our defense was built around Peyton Manning, too.  We almost constantly played with a lead, or if we didn't have the lead, we had driven fear into our opponents that our offense was going to score whenever they touched the ball.  We never really needed to go after guys that would be great fits in Pagano's new system, we needed speed and the ability to pressure the opposing QB and rarely relied/needed a stout run D (well, until the playoffs) as teams were consistently playing catch up and we had the luxury of playing the majority of downs throughout a game like they were 3rd down.  I think this is why we never really had great CBs under Polian, in that our pass-rush was usually either the best, or one of the best, in the league and we played a cover 2 -- we didn't have dire need for a shut-down type CB, we just needed guys who could stay in their zone and keep up with WR's for short amount of time with Freeney and Mathis hitting the QB and forcing the ball out quickly.  Also, to Polian's credit, I think a lack of success for DB's is  partially a result of the 2005 draft.  Marlin Jackson showed tremendous potential, when healthy, and Hayden was a solid player, we also had Bob Sanders for a while -- I think we may have took a few years off of going for DB's by counting that Marlin and Bob would be healthy (they had starter salaries, so that is a difficult thing to pick up a top-talent at those positions and the price tag that comes with it when you are counting on health of guys that were pro-bowl caliber when they were on the field).

 

 

Finally, our salary cap was also built around Peyton Manning towards the end of Polian's career.  We dumped a lot of money into his targets (Marvin, Reggie) and we had a big chunk of salary on the defense to arguably the best pass-rushing DE of his era (Freeeney).  We did not have the money in our cap to bring in stud nose tackles, or corners. 

 

As noted by others, Grigs also had the fortune of selecting at the top of the order -- whereas Polian built a strong enough team that we were constantly at the back end of the order.  Hopefully, with what Grigs already put into place, we will see the Colts under Andrew Luck be a perennial bottom of the order team.

 

There are some guys (Donald Brown, Hughes, Ijalana, Angerer, Nevis, Carter, Moala, etc.) that I think it is too early to put a verdict on as failures -- I expect Hughes and Angerer to produce big this year, and I expect Brown to produce if he stays healthy.   There are others that I think were great picks, and unfortunately injuries took a toll on them (Collie, Powers, Thomas, Gonzalez, etc... maybe Brown and Angerer will fall into that category).    And others that we were unable to keep with the salary cap (e.g., Garcon). 

 

I just think it is important to keep in mind with some of the guys that were drafted and being considered failures, were drafted either for depth, or to fit the system of the Polian Era.  Brown is one of these guys, he was brought in to play in the Manning offense -- and when he has been healthy, he has shown plenty of flashes of his potential -- however, we can't call it over for him in this offense until we see if he can fix his health problems and what he can do without a very below average run-blocking line.  Austin Collie is another, and if he could keep himself on the field he was great in that offense (I think he is several notches below a Wes Welker type, and don't think he would've seen the same success in many other offenses, but he fit the niche that Peyton needed him to here).  Hughes is another, he was brought in as a pass-rushing DE in a 4-3 scheme -- too early to write him off until we can see if he can offer anything as an OLB in a new system -- if he doesn't produce this year, adios, but I think we owe him a chance to try.

 

I guess my point is, this team under Grigson and Pagano is completely different than what it was under Polian and Dungy.  We are completely different on offense, defense, and special teams -- so to grade some of Polian's picks in terms of the new system is a bit unfair.

 

I think we have a more balanced team now, in part because of Pagano's coaching style and larger in part b/c we didn't need (and couldn't afford) as much balance with Peyton under center.  It will be interesting to see how we build after Luck's next contract -- there is a good chance, if he continues to improve, that he is going to be getting a contract bigger than Flacco's and we will see some sacrifices made (if Peyton was payed off his rookie contract forever, we would have probably had more $$ and a little bit of a different approach in building other areas of the team).  Unfortunately, in the salary cap era, that is the way things go -- and when you have a franchise QB like I think Luck is, or like Peyton was, it makes sense to invest in them at the cost of having holes in other areas as these guys can win games seemingly by themselves a lot of times.  Like I was reading with Aaron Rodgers contract talks the other day, "as long as you have one of those elite QB's behind center, your team is a superbowl threat every year". 

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Chris Polian ruined this team.  After Bill took a back seat and let his son take over, our drafts and personnel decision making sucked. Looking back, those drafts were/are embarrassing.  Just.......wow.

Chris may have been responsible for some those picks but Bill was accountable. And he was starting to stink it up before he turned it into family business anyway.

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This draft will be a testament to Grigsons talent evaluation. He now is picking talent at the end of the round, with less picks as opposed to early last year.

I believe he is a great talent evaluator, butHitting on 2-3 of the 6 picks this year will in my mind put him in an elite status among current GM's.

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About the Polians, especially Bill....IMO the game changed so much from his prime that his talent evaluating skills in finding players that fit today's NFL don't match up.  I still love to listen to him when he's on ESPN or interviews online, but damn....his ability to build through the draft imploded...and his inability to bring in FA to counter the poor drafts topped off his failure.

 

Let's see what Grigson can do this year with limited picks in the ladder parts of the rounds.

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The Polians ignored the Oline and backup QB for such a long time because Peyton was so good.  When they finally decided to draft Olinemen, they did it all in 1 draft and they all busted.  He never took care of the backup QB and that's what cost him his job (supposedly).  I hope and pray Grigson never gets irresponsible like that.

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The whole backup QB was nonsense, IMO.  They got fired because 95% of the rest of the team sucked.  They built the team around 1 player and got exposed.

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About the Polians, especially Bill....IMO the game changed so much from his prime that his talent evaluating skills in finding players that fit today's NFL don't match up.  I still love to listen to him when he's on ESPN or interviews online, but darn....his ability to build through the draft imploded...and his inability to bring in FA to counter the poor drafts topped off his failure.

 

Let's see what Grigson can do this year with limited picks in the ladder parts of the rounds.

This ^

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Another little talked about front office move that correlated with Chris Polian's ascent is covered in this column....

 

http://www.examiner.com/article/departure-of-dom-anile-another-loss-an-offseason-of-change-around-indianapolis-colts

 

It's worth the read for context on Bill Polian's entire tenure as a GM and talent evaluator....but the last paragraph also highlights Dom Anile's descending input as Chris Polian rose in his player personnel responsibilities, actually beginning a couple years before Anile was finally let go after the 2007/08 season.

 

IMO....that had to contribute pretty substantially to the lackluster draft results starting after the Super Bowl win. Bill Polian himself spoke very highly of Anile....and Anile's resume spoke for itself.

 

Young Polian had no such resume....and we've seen the results.

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I wish I had the time/energy to dissect the smallest minutia of this team. Then again, I can enjoy them without analyzing every one of Irsay's burps and farts.

 

Pretty soon someone will be analyzing the waterboys/towel boys. Where does it end?

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Since 2000 there is 14 guys still on the roster that Polian drafted out of the 92 (thats 15.2 percent....Not sure what the league average over that same time span is though and that is ALOT of work)

 

1.Castonzo

2.Carter

3.Nevis

4.Ijalana

5.Jerry Hughes

6.Angerer

7.Ricardo Mathews

8.Kavell Conner

9.Donald Brown

10.Moala

11.Mcafee

12.Bethea

13.Mathis

14.Wayne

 

 

To be honest in my opinion 5-6 of those might even be on the bubble this year in training camp with roster spots on the line

 

Moala

Mattews

Carter

Nevis

Ijalana

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Since 2000 there is 14 guys still on the roster that Polian drafted out of the 92 (thats 15.2 percent....Not sure what the league average over that same time span is though and that is ALOT of work)

 

1.Castonzo

2.Carter

3.Nevis

4.Ijalana

5.Jerry Hughes

6.Angerer

7.Ricardo Mathews

8.Kavell Conner

9.Donald Brown

10.Moala

11.Mcafee

12.Bethea

13.Mathis

14.Wayne

 

 

To be honest in my opinion 5-6 of those might even be on the bubble this year in training camp with roster spots on the line

 

Moala

Mattews

Carter

Nevis

Ijalana

How many pro bowlers since 07, better yet, How many starters since 07? That's the point, 07 on, talent evaluation took a major hit. Bill got it right a lot early on.

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Castonzo

Angerer

Brown (until there is offical word that he is the backup)

Mcafee(do Punters count?)

 

 

All starters at this point in time

 

Pro Bowler since '07-0 (1-Mcafee?)

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I wish I had the time/energy to dissect the smallest minutia of this team. Then again, I can enjoy them without analyzing every one of Irsay's burps and farts.

 

Pretty soon someone will be analyzing the waterboys/towel boys. Where does it end?

I respect your opinion, but why is it ok to breakdown a player, draft prospect, offense/defense schemes, but the front office is off limits? Don't you feel we as fans have the right to question/analyze all moves the F/O makes just like we do with trades/FA signings?

It's important to look at the past to gain knowledge about the future. Frankly, i cried when Peyton left, but do you blame Peyton for getting released? Or do you blame the front office? I'm such a die hard colts fan, that I take time out of my busy life (corporate recruiting NYC) to breakdown facets of the front office that I find to be useful information for myself, that I wish to get an opinion on by my fellow posters.

I refuse to follow blindly without questioning moves made by FO. If the leader of a herd of buffalo, leads them off the cliff, every single buffalo will follow (wings anyone?). Fans who do that, don't see that past is prologue and can easily be repeated.

I will continue to do my due diligence, and bring interesting sides to the debate. Like this http://forums.colts.com/index.php?/topic/17294-how-grigson-fooled-us/

If the towel boy had access to 122 mil year over year, I would analyze his towel delivering ability ;)

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Castonzo

Angerer

Brown (until there is offical word that he is the backup)

Mcafee(do Punters count?)

 

 

All starters at this point in time

 

Pro Bowler since '07-0 (1-Mcafee?)

Good point but no pro bowl for McAfee yet which is a shame. That list is different than the consistent 8-10 Pro bowlers we enjoyed from 2003-2007

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