Kyle Rodriguez reviews the 1999 draft by the Colts. (Originally published 10/11/11)
This is the second part in a season-long series assessing the effectiveness of the last 13 years of drafting. For details on how the drafts are judged see the first post in the series (1998 draft).
1998 Draft (A-)
NOTE: Midway through the series (2002) I added some numbers to the 'context' section. After seeing an idea proposed by Collin McCollough (Colts blogger and B/R NFL Editor), I decided to take a specific look at the next ten picks after the Colts' spot. While we already judge the pick's production in a historical sense under the production section, this part will add to seeing the pick in the context of the specific draft itself. Here, we'll just be looking at the career total AV's, since all the picks have had the same opportunity to play, in terms of time. Those numbers have been added to the sections earlier than 2002 now, including the 1998 post published yesterday.
#4 RB Edgerrin James Production: (A+)
Career AV (Season Average): 12.36
Average #4 AV: 7.32
Median #4 AV: 6.33
Edge was one of the most productive Colts of the Manning era, and his AV would have been higher if I wouldn't have included his post-Colts numbers. James was an All-Pro and four-time Pro-Bowler with the Colts, and the Colts' running game has never looked the same since he left.
The Colts traded star running back Marshall Faulk two days before the draft, leaving a gaping hole at the running back position. The names Keith Elias, Scott Greene, and Darick Holmes didn't exactly induce fear in opposing defensive coordinators. The Colts needed a star running back, and everybody knew it.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (A-)
Ricky Williams was pretty much unanimously ranked ahead of James, but it was also widely regarded that the difference between the two was negligible. James was seen as a likely top five pick regardless, but the Colts did shock the experts by going with James instead of Williams.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 59.2
James' Career AV: 114
The Colts needed a running back, and James was the right pick here. There were other very good players left, but that is expected when the pick is so high. While players like Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, and Champ Bailey were all picked soon after, it was widely known that the Colts would (and should) go with either James or Williams. Turned out that they made the right choice.
Overall: (A) James was a home run of a pick, plain and simple. He filled a huge need, and the Colts' instincts (having James ahead of Williams) turned out to be right.
#36 LB Mike Peterson Production: (B+)
Career AV: 7.42
Average #36 AV: 4.54
Median #36 AV: 4.2
Out of all the 36th overall picks in the last thirteen years, only Chad Ochocinco (2001) has had a higher season average (10.2). Peterson's ranking would be higher, but his production with the Colts wasn't as high as his later years with Jacksonville. Although, to be fair, that was partially due to injury problems during the train wreck season of 2001. Plus, Indy's defense doesn't exactly allow linebackers to shine.
Linebacker was the Colts second biggest need in 1999, after the recently vacated spot of running back. Picking up Peterson here, after James in the first, meant the draft was going exactly to plan.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (A)
Peterson was ranked the second best outside linebacker of the draft, which is exactly when he was taken. He was however predicted to be taken in the first round, so getting him in the second was a deal for the Colts. In a draft that was supposed to be weak at OLB, Peterson turned out to be a great second round pick.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 32.3
Peterson's Career AV: 72
There were a few solid pickups in the picks following the Colts, such as Nebraska defensive end Mike Rucker, drafted by the Panthers at pick 38. Another possible miss was CB Dre Bly at #41. The Colts did need a starting DE, and depth in the secondary, but the prospect of Peterson and the need for a linebacker won out.
Overall: (A) Another solid pick for the 1999 draft. So far, this draft was going perfectly, with two picks that filled needs and worked out to perfection.
#63 OG Brandon Burlsworth
Brandon Burlsworth is one of the most tragic, yet inspiring stories I've seen in my experience following the NFL. Burlsworth was a walk-on at Arkansas, but became an All-SEC guard by his junior year, and an All-American in his senior season. Burlsworth was incredibly smart, attaining his Masters degree before being drafted. Unfortunately, on his way home from college to go to church with his mother, Burlsworth died in a tragic car accident. He never played in the NFL. To learn more about Burlsworth, check out the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation.
The Colts needed a guard to replace Larry Moore, who was playing center in 1999, but there were bigger needs, especially at defensive end and in the secondary.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (C)
Burlsworth was ranked at about seventh or eighth in terms of guards, but was only the third one chosen. He was an All-American, but didn't have the physical tools some of the other guards did. He did however, have the work ethic and determination, something that would have given him a big advantage.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 19.6
Burlsworth's Career AV: -
The Colts didn't miss on anybody in the third round, especially when looking at the key positions of DE, CB, and S. The only possible note would be Joey Porter, but the Colts really weren't looking for 3-4 OLB's.
Overall: I can't give a grade here. Based on the need and pre-draft ranking alone, it's around a B-, but Burlsworth had the drive to succeed in the NFL, but never got the chance. It's a tragic and unfortunate story.
#96 CB Paul Miranda
Career AV: .33
Average #96 AV: 1.94
Median #96 AV: 1.5
Only had one season with the Colts out of his three-year career. He played in five games in Indianapolis, with one assisted tackle. He played in a total of 16 games in his short career.
Only two glaring needs stood out (that had not been addressed) at this point in the draft, secondary and defensive end. The Colts tried to address the former with this pick. The grade does get knocked down here due to a solid defensive end still being available (see Context).
Pre-Draft Rankings: (C)
Miranda was taken ahead of several cornerbacks ranked ahead of him, most notably Kenny Wright (120th overall), who went on to have a decent career as an occasional starting CB.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 15.2
Miranda's Career AV: 1
Other than Wright, the only other overlook here was defensive end Aaron Smith, drafted at #109 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Overall: (C-) Give the Colts credit for trying to fill a need here, but there were better options available.
#138 DE Brad Scioli
Career AV: 2.5
Average #138 AV: 1.99
Median #138 AV: 1.5
Scioli was a decent rotational defensive end for six years for the Colts, and had above average production for his position.
Need: (A-) The Colts needed a defensive end, and it hasn't been addressed yet in the draft. The only reason it's knocked down to A- is because it should have been addressed sooner.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (B+) Scioli was predicted to go in the 4th-5th round, going early in the fifth. He did slip a bit, considering that a few DE's ranked behind him were taken in front of him.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 12.2
Scioli's Career AV: 14
Linebacker Eric Burton (146 overall) was the only one was a consistent starter from this group.
Overall: (B) The Colts got above average production from Scioli for six years. Solid pick, but not exceptional.
#210 Hunter Smith
Production: (B) Career AV: -
Average AV: 1.38
Median AV: 1.5
PFR doesn't keep AV for kickers or punters, but I think it's pretty safe to say that a starting punter for 10 years is more productive than a 1.38.
Need: (B) The Colts' starting punter, Chris Gardoki, was going into free agency, and the Colts needed a replacement. It wasn't as key of a position as other needs, but it needed to be addressed sometime.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C) Ranked the third best punter prior to the draft, Smith was taken second. However, the difference between Smith and the top two however, was very negligible.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 10.5
Smith's Career AV: -
The Colts could have taken Donald Driver with this pick.
Overall: (B-) Again, a solid pick with this one. Nothing great, but the Colts got what they needed from a seventh round pick.
#250 LB Corey Terry
Career AV: 0.5
Average #250 AV: 1.2
Median #250 AV: 0
The average AV was skewed quite a bit due to the high production from four of the thirteen picks. The majority of the picks didn't have any production, so for Terry to get any production was above average. However, Terry didn't do it with the Colts, never playing a down with the Colts.
As stated earlier, linebacker was a 201big need for the Colts.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C+)
Terry was projected to go late 7th, so this was completely understandable.
Average Career AV for next 3 picks (only 3 left): 1.67
Terry's Career AV: 0
This was the fourth to last pick in the draft, so there's not much left there for picking.
Overall: (B-) The Colts didn't get production from Terry, but that wasn't unexpected for that late of a pick. They went in the right direction with the pick, but for that late of a pick, it's unlikely you get anything from it.
1999 Draft Overall
Sum of Colts' AV averages: 23.11
Sum of average picks: 21.32 (Medians: 18.8)
Total CarAV of Colts' picks: 201 (No Hunter Smith or Brandon Burlsworth)
Total of the Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 150.67
Total Context +/-: +50.33 (W/O numbers from Smith/Burlsworth)
Hit %: 4/7- 57.1%, w/o Burlsworth it is 66.67%
While the numbers look close for the AV Average numbers, this draft by the Colts was awesome (as seen by the Context totals). Only one of the Colts' seven picks was a bad pick, but the loss of Burlsworth brought down the Colts' total numbers at the end. While Miranda was a bad pick, the rest of the picks were a success. It's drafts like this that gave the Colts a good base for a dynasty for years to come.
Again, it should be noted that Brandon Burlsworth's story is a tragic one, and one that should be remembered. He was a perennial Colt, a player who worked hard to get from nowhere to All-American, a player who's biggest attributes were hard work and determination.
In the end though, even the tragic story of Burlsworth wasn't enough to derail this draft, and the Colts' get a solid A, something that experts agreed with even then (as long as James turned out better than Williams, which he did).
@Kyle Rodriguez More examples? You got it. How bout this year's Steelers. 1st in pass defense (yards wise), and top 3 in pass defense in general. They were ranked 17th in sacks.
The Bills last year were another example. top 5 pass defense, 27th in sacks.
Please, you can't honestly tell me that in the 90 year history of the NFL, every single top 5 team in pass defense had a good pass rush. There are just numerous examples, and this is kinda getting pointless.
@Andrew Aziz How were the Bills top 5 pass defense? They were 19th in pass yards per attempt. Steelers were 17th in sacks, but 14th in adj. sack rate, and their defense is designed to blitz heavily/creatively and put pressure on the passer. To use them as an example of a team that doesn't have a pass rush doesn't fit. And no, I'm not saying that every top team in pass defense (which stat are you going to use to quantify that?) has had a good pass rush. I said earlier that there may be exceptions (and likely are, there are exceptions to every rule), just that the examples you provided aren't. The point is that the general rule is that to have good pass defense you need to be able to pressure the quarterback. The Colts needed DE's.
Should the decision to NOT sign Marshall Faulk be taken into consideration here? That is a GM decision too, right? And Edge got nearly as much money as Marshall Faulk wanted.
I LOVED Edge and am glad he is part of Colts history, but I personally view this draft as a tragic mistake by the front office. So many options were available that, while getting Edge and Peterson were great for the team's run in the early 2000s, there are a lot of "what ifs" to be considered as part of this grade.
For example, what if the Colts would have signed Faulk to the deal he wanted, traded the pick to the Saints so they could pick Ricky Williams, and then use the plethora of picks to add talent in a very deep draft? Faulk went on to play MVP caliber running back for another 4-5 years, leading his team to the Super Bowl twice.
Or, what if the Colts signed Faulk and then used the pick to land Camp Bailey and get a shut-down corner for the next decade?
Under either scenario, I think the team's chances of a Super Bowl run improved.
That wasn't it though. Faulk wanted out of Indy, so the Colts traded him. They got 2nd and 5th round picks for him, plus a dynamic, younger RB. Faulk got a 7 year deal from the Rams, and the Colts definitely didn't want to give him that long of a contract. If all Faulk wanted was money, then you'd be absolutely right. But, my understanding was that Faulk had chemistry issues with the team, and wanted out. @Posting Anon
these posts are awesome kyle. really fun to look back like this on the drafts, and i'm excited to continue to see more recent years. keep it up.
Generally pretty good, but I don't think that defensive end was one of the biggest needs. They had just gotten Chad Bratzke on March 1st, and the biggest need was secondary help. I think OG help, an RB, a S, and a CB come before getting a DE. Even a DT comes before getting a DE.
@Andrew Aziz I think RB was a bigger need, but DE and Secondary was even, IMO. Pass coverage starts with pass rush. W/o it, any secondary will fall apart. Guard was a need, but was behind defense. Offense wasn't the problem, defense was. Bratzke helped, but DE was still bare. DT was fine, with Johnson and McCoy being the lone bright spots on the DL in 1998.
@Kyle Rodriguez Although a good pass rush does help, the secondary can easily do well without the pass rush. There are many teams that were like that. The 06 Bears, 11 Saints, 86 Cardinals, the 94 Oilers, and even the 03 team. Freeney was the only good pass rusher back then. Teams can still perform very well in the passing game without a good pass rush, but a pass rush does help. Two things that go hand in hand are QB production and the O-line protection. The Colts had great protection and were great at blocking which really helped PM develop and turning Edge into an all pro.
@Andrew Aziz I would, but I'm not wrong here. Pass defense relies on pass rush. You're premise was: "the secondary can easily do well without the pass rush."
Now, in order to do that you need examples, stats, evidence. You came up with 5 teams, in the history of the league as examples. For examples, you need them to be very good in pass defense without having a decent pass rush. None of those examples fit.
03 Colts: Not very good in pass defense, and their pass rush was better than you make it out to be.
06 Bears: 8th in Sacks... they had a pass rush, and it was in the top 25% of the league (for total sacks anyway)
11 Saints: Not very good pass defense. They are 19th in NY/A, 31st in turnovers (not sure where you got that).
86 Cardinals: Pass defense linked with their sack %
94 Oilers- 4th in Sack percentage, not devoid of pass rush
As I said before, you need to come up with viable counter examples. None of these fit your premise. None had terrible pass rush while having a good pass defense. They all are either middling to bad defenses or they actually had a good pass rush. There may be exceptions to the rule, but these are not them.
@Kyle Rodriguez I never said the Colts had a great pass defense in 03, but they had a solid one. They were ranked 13th in the overall pass defense department. This includes yards per play, and all that kind of stuff. That's pretty good, and the Colts didn't have a great pass rush. The Colts ranked 23rd in sacks. Don't come and tell me that they had a good one, and say that Bratzke and Mathis contributed that much. Mathis was really a ST players who occasionally got time in there. He and Bratzke got 3 sacks each.
Now about them Saints. There are two thing about the 11 Saints: the pass the ball well and they stop the pass well. What I mean is that they make key turnovers, and they blitz like crazy under Gregg Williams. They may not look great on the stat sheet, but you gotta watch their games, their pass D makes key stops at key times. Their rush defense is crap though. Their D also had the 3rd amount of attempts.
The Bears pass defense was great with Charles Tillman and the fact that they had the best coverage linebackres in the league in Urlacher and Briggs. Even Hillenmeyer was a good coverage LB. Like you said, they didn't have the greatest pass rush, but they still did well vs the pass.
I can do this all day, like I said, it's good to have a pass rush, and it does sometimes help the pass defense, but there are a lot of cases where the pass defense has been good without a very good pass rush. The titans are another example of that. Kyle, all good writers have to admit they're wrong sometimes.
@Andrew Aziz "Although a good pass rush does help, the secondary can easily do well without the pass rush."
That's inherently false.
03 Colts- The pass defense was not great. The Colts were good in yards allowed, but that was due to them having the least amount of attempts. Their NY/A was 19th in the league. And even then, the Colts had Freeney, (Washington with 6 sacks), Mathis, and Bratzke to give them some pass rush.
06 Bears- Tied for 8th in the league in sacks with 40. Not devoid of pass rush.
11 Saints- Defense is awful. Pass defense is about average, due to lack of consistent pass rush.
86 Cardinals- First in Yards allowed... because they were first in attempts. 9th in sacks per pass attempt... incidentally, 9th in NY/A.
94 Oilers- 4th in sacks per pass attempt, not devoid of pass rush
Pass rush is essential to good pass defense. There may be exceptions to the rule somewhere, but you'd be hard pressed to find them.