All week, I'll be running a "What to Expect" series. The goal of this series is to create realistic expectations for the Colts draft picks based on historical performance from similar players. Too often fans think of young players as 'busts' if they don't produce their rookie years, when the reality is that most rookies don't produce right away.
Today we'll be looking at controversial second round pick Pat Angerer. Because so many questioned the pick, some will rush to call Angerer a bust if he doesn't turn into a 16 game starter his rookie year. For the purposes of projecting Angerer, I'm going to use Phil Wheeler, Freddy Keiaho, Gilbert Gardner, Tyjuan Hagler, David Thornton, Cato June, Gary Brackett, and Clint Session from the Colts side in the Tampa 2. Then we'll look at Marcus Washington, Mike Peterson and Rob Morris, three highly drafted Colts LBs before the 2. That should give us a nice baseline of players who came up in the Colts' system. I'll also look at all the 4-3 linebackers taken between picks 50 and 75 since 2005 in the NFL.
Tampa 2 Colts Linebackers:
Underline this in your mind:
Colts' linebackers don't start their rookie years.
This list is a nice mix of awful players (Gardner), solid players (Hagler), and good players (Brackett and Session). What you do see is that the pretty good ones made a few more plays on special teams than the average ones, but none of them played very much at all.
Highly drafted Colts LBs:
Ok, so you have to go back to Mike Peterson in 1999 before you find a Colts LB who started his rookie year, or had more than 40 tackles. You can see that when the really good ones got on the field, they found ways to make an impact play.
4-3 Linebackers from 2005-2009 taken from pick 50-75
*Piscietelli has played mostly safety.
Only three LBs in this slot in the past five drafts started their rookie years. Considering that two of them didn't even make their teams, that's pretty amazing. Kirk Morrison rang up a lot of tackles, but none of the players would really be called an impact player in their rookie year.
What to Expect:
I've got two words for you:
Listen, Pat Angerer will be given every chance to unseat Phil Wheeler, but the odds are very long that he'll be able to do it. When he doesn't win the linebacker job out of camp, don't freak out. Very few rookie linebackers start. Most of them, even good ones that go on to Pro Bowls, don't start their first year.
Angerer should appear in all 16 games; I would expect him not to start at all (partially because I think Wheeler puts it together). Angerer should post between 20-30 tackles and it would be nice if he made a special play or two during garbage time. A sack, a pick, a fumble...something. But honestly, if he's anything like most rookie linebackers, he won't see the field often and you'll barely notice him. That won't make him a bust...it will make him 100% normal. It takes linebackers a couple of years to become serious players. In a year, it will be largely impossible to judge him.
If he wins a starting role and contributes at all, then the pick will have to qualify as an instant, over the top success from a first year point of view.
Angerer will obviously be a bust if he gets cut or is inactive (coaches decision) a lot of weeks. Indy needs him on the field on special teams. That's an important job, and one he must fulfill. Other than that, let's hope he doesn't play much. Unless he turns out to be crazy special, he won't start except in the event of injury.
So when people start to complain that he's a bust because he's not a starter, just remind them of most every other Colts linebacker for the past decade. He'll be fine.
All we are looking for this season is:
1. 16 games on the active roster
2. Special teams excellence
3. 20-30 tackles, 1 special play (INT, FF, sack)