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.
Kevin Thomas from USC was the Colts third round pick. The corner enters a good situation considering the Colts only have three other real CBs. Of course, all three are strong players. For a look at how we can expect Thomas to fare his rookie year, first I'll consider the 12 corners the Colts have taken since 2002 (when the cover-2 was installed). Then I'll examine all corners selected between picks number 80-110 since 2005 by any team in the NFL.
Colts Corners Taken since 2002
This is a fascinating list. The Colts love to draft corners, so we have a nice cross section of players. First off all, it's impressive to note that despite taking 12 corners in 8 seasons, 11 made the team. Thomas was the 94th overall pick, and the Colts have three other players on this list in almost that same slot.
Jacob Lacey's, Jerraud Powers' and Jason David's rookie seasons immediately jump off the page. All became primary starters right away and made big contributions. Lacey led this list in tackles; David had as many picks his rookie year as the other 11 drafted Colts combined.
We also see guys who became good and important players not see much action their rookie year. Jackson and Hayden did not start despite their high draft status. Both grew to be good corners. It's important to remember that when considering Thomas, who steps in as a nickle back at best, and probably a dime. There's also the case of Donald Strickland who played a lot his rookie year, and was gone one season later (though he's still bouncing around the league to his credit).
NFL Corners taken between 80-110 since 2005
(note: I tried to take just corners, but many safties are listed as DBs as well. If I was in doubt, I left the player in. Some players played only as kick returners. They are labled KR. Also note that I excluded the players the Colts drafted (like Powers) from this list)
|Antonio Perkins (KR)||103||1||0||0||0||0||0|
*Dustin Fox played for a different team than the one that drafted him.
There have been 21 corners drafted in this range in the past five years by teams other than Indianapolis. Four of them failed to make the team that took them. Four started at least six games in their rookie year. Drafting in the third round, you are as likely to get nothing as you are a rookie starter.
The three best corners on this list were Foxworth, Hobbs and Daniels. A couple of others made lesser contributions. Most didn't play much at all. Only three posted 30 tackles. Only 6 had an interception.
What to Expect:
Ironically, it's fair to expect more from Thomas than it is from Angerer and Hughes.
The Colts treat corners differently than most teams. They take a lot of them and most of them play. Compare the tackle totals for the rookie corners to yesterday's tackle totals for rookie linebackers.
Thomas is expected to compete for the nickle spot with Jacob Lacey. Frankly, if he won that job, it would be an impressive accomplishment. Regardless, there is every reason to expect him to be no worse than the fourth corner.
Having said that, the Colts' corners have battled injuries for several seasons now. Neither Powers nor Hayden played in all 16 games last year. If/when the Colts suffer losses in the secondary,Thomas should be able to step up into whatever role is vacated and hold the fort, be it as a starter or as a nickle. While we would certainly love to see Jerraud Powers part two, even if he doesn't play at that level, it won't indicate anything about his future.
Thomas ought to be able to chip in one start, 30 tackles, one INT, and good special teams play. If he wins the third corner job, he has to be considered a great success. As long as he makes the team and contributes, he'll be a solid third round value. If he unseats one of the two starters (ala Powers last year), then he'll be a raging hit, and the Colts will be formidable to say the least.
What we are looking for is:
- A dime corner who plays in four wide sets
- solid special teams play
- 30 tackles and an interception