Kyle Rodriguez reviews the 2000 draft in the third installment of the "Judging the Draft" series.
This is the sixth 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-)
1999 Draft (A)
Note: I added the total Context +/- at the end of the series, and added it to the previous two posts. This number takes the CarAV of the Colts' pick and compares it to the average CarAV of the next 10 picks. This will be totaled for the end numbers. I also added "Hit %" numbers, which is based on the context numbers. If it was above average for the next 10 picks, than it's a "Hit," if below average, it's a "Miss."
The first two drafts of the Polian/Manning era were, in a word, incredible. With the 2000 draft, the Polian-led Colts got their first taste of drafting at the bottom of the round, and things took a step towards normalcy.
#28 LB Rob Morris
Career AV (Season Average): 3.5
Average #28 AV: 4.04
Median #28 AV: 4
Rob Morris was drafted by the Colts in order to inherit the middle linebacker spot. He did start their for four years, and during those four years the Colts' defense was ranked 31, 19, 25, and 17 in rush defense DVOA. Morris was also a leading special teams tackler and reserve linebacker from 2005-2006, being most notable in the replacement of Gilbert Gardner in the 2006 playoffs (a huge factor in the Colts improved rush defense). While Morris was a decent player (and the Colts may not have a Super Bowl without him), he wasn't the type of production that you'd like to see from a first round pick, even though it was low in the round.
While the Colts' offense was humming along as Peyton Manning began to get his legs under him in his second season, the defense was still less-than desirable. Middle linebacker and a second defensive end to complement Chad Bratzke were the biggest needs, and the Colts addressed the former with this pick. Coincidentally, several analysts recognized this need, and predicted Morris to be the Colts' first round pick, including Don Banks.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (A)
Morris was widely regarded to be one of the best middle linebackers to come out of the draft in years, and was far and away the highest rated MLB in the 2000 draft. He was pegged as a late first rounder, and for a team with a need at MLB, the Colts got exactly who they wanted.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 33.2
Morris' Career AV: 25
Boy, the Colts missed out here. Five Pro-Bowlers were taken in the following 16 picks, including linebackers Keith Bulluck (30) and Ian Gold* (40). While both were seen as outside linebackers, and Gold was seen as a bit of a reach, Bulluck was projected to be a solid first round pick, and slid to the end of the round.
* Note: Gold's Pro-Bowl was as a special teams player in 2001. However, he did go on to start the next season, and never had a full season where his AV was under six.
Overall: (B) Nobody faulted the Colts for this pick, although Peter King correctly (and solely) pegged him as overrated. While it's disappointing that Morris didn't end up being the star MLB that he was expected to be, his presence as a leader on the Colts was always appreciated. And in the circumstances, the Colts made the pick they needed to make. (It's worth remembering that without Morris in 2006, the Colts likely would never have won a Super Bowl)
#59 LB Marcus Washington
Career AV: 6.89
Average #59 AV: 4.06
Median #59 AV: 5
Washington was one of the better Colts outside linebackers, and went on to have a great career with the Redskins as well. In the thirteen years being studied, Washington has the highest AV season average with Jonathan Babineaux and (surprise!) Mike Pollak being the only other two players with an AV over six.
The Colts needed an outside linebacker to replace aging Cornelius Bennett, and they got a good one with Washington. While the Colts had already addressed linebacker with Morris, and defensive end was a bigger need, there wasn't really anybody worth picking at DE at this point in the draft.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (A)
Washington was rated as the 6th or 7th best outside linebacker in the draft, and was the 8th taken. Ian Gold was the surprise leap, but Washington ended up having a better career than him and Raynoch Thompson, who was also taken ahead of him.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 18.3
Washington's Career AV: 53
After Washington, there was only one Pro-Bowler in the next 83 picks (WR Laveranues Coles at 78). The picks after Washington were decent (C Brad Meester, G Bobbie Williams), but nothing devastating.
Overall: (A) With Washington, the Colts got a starting linebacker who out played his competitors in the draft. While Washington's best years came elsewhere, that seems to be a trend when it comes to the Colts and outside linebackers. The Colts use them for their rookie contract, then let them go in free agency where they have solid years for other teams. Not sure if this is just the scheme or what, but it doesn't change the fact that Washington was a good player, and the right pick.
#91 CB David Macklin
Career AV: 3.77
Average #91 AV: 3.15
Median #91 AV: 2.5
Macklin was a starter and nickel cornerback while with the Colts averaging an AV of four while with the Colts. He went on to have better years with Arizona (average AV of six), but two throw-away years with Washington and Kansas City bring down his average a full point. A decent cornerback with the Colts, they get above average production with this third round pick.
The Colts needed secondary help, as they only had a year or two left on their starters, and the depth was troubling. However, a defensive end was still needed, and was a more pressing need than depth at cornerback. Of course, looking at the draft, there isn't really any available, viable DE's at this point.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (A)
There was some discrepancy about Macklin going into the 2000 draft. SI had him at 16th among cornerbacks, while NFL Draft Scout had him at 11th (one blog even had him as "possibly the best cover corner coming out"). The Colts got him as the 13th CB, and proceeded to make everyone look silly, as Deltha O'Neal was the only player to pan out better as a cornerback.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 13.8
Macklin's Career AV: 30
Again, in this relatively weak draft, there was not much going on in these middle rounds. The only pick that possibly would have been better was LB Na'il Diggs at #98. Diggs had a very good career as an OLB with Green Bay and Carolina.
Overall: (A-) Macklin provided quality depth, and occasional starting from a pick that historically doesn't always produce that. They filled a need, picked the right guy, and got above average production. Can't argue with that.
#122 DT Josh Williams
Career AV: 3.17
Average #122 AV: 1.98
Median #122 AV: 2.25
Williams scores high here with his production. He was a rotational/starting defensive tackle for the Colts for six years, two of which ended prematurely due to injury. He even racked up a safety against Detroit in his rookie year.
The Colts had to shore up the left side of the defensive line, and Williams was an attempt at doing just that. Again, they needed a DE most, but it seemed as most prospects were long gone.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (B)
Like Macklin, there was some disagreement on Williams, ranking anywhere from the 7th best DT to the 13th. The Colts got him as the 11th DT taken, and with him having the 9th most productive career, it seems the Colts got it right.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 6.8
Williams' Career AV: 17
Still pretty quiet on this front, although Pittsburgh would draft linebacker Clark Haggan just before the Colts next pick, who went on to be a an above average LB.
Overall: (B+) Williams was production from a low pick, a plus in itself, and it was just extra that he filled a need and outperformed his projected success.
#138 C/G Matt Johnson
Career AV: 0
Average AV: 1.99
Median AV: 1.5
Johnson didn't pan out, and never played a down in the NFL. Course, the guard market was especially weak in 2000, as only three of the drafted guards had extensive starting careers (all drafted ahead of Johnson).
The only hole on offense was the guard position, which needed depth. After spending the first four picks on the woeful defense, this was good planning on the FO's part.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C-)
Johnson was ranked anywhere from 11th to 21st among guards, but was the 8th one taken. Seems like a reach to me, and one that didn't work out.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 5.5
Johnson's Career AV: 0
Finally a worthy miss appears as Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is taken eleven picks later. He would have fixed the Colts DE problem. Shane Lechler was also taken at 142.
Overall: (C) Colts looked in the right direction with this pick, but the reach didn't work out, and the Colts missed.
#235 Rob Renes
Production:( - )
Like Johnson, Renes never saw the field. But Renes' problems were due to a nasty vertebrae injury which led to Renes' career ending before it started.
Yes, defensive tackle was needed, but the Colts addressed that by picking Josh Williams.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C-)
Again, a reach, the Colts picked up Renes, who was ranked no lower than 30th among DTs, as the 21st defensive tackle taken. Most boards didn't even see Renes getting drafted at all.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 1.1
Renes Career AV: 0
Nothing going on this late in the draft.
Overall: (C+) Renes' injury could not be foreseen, but he was a bit of a reach here. Of course, it is the seventh round, so team's take flyers on players they like.
#238 CB Rodregis Brooks
Career AV: 0
Average #238 AV: .82
Median #238 AV: .33
Brooks played in a few games for special teams, but never anything more than that.
The Colts still need depth at corner, and this is where you look.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (B)
Projected as a late seventh rounder, that's exactly where he went, as the final pick before the compensatory picks.
Average Career AV for next 10 picks: 1.1
Brooks Career AV: 0
Rob Maier (141) went on to have a decent career as a defensive end for Jacksonville, something we could have used here.
Overall: (C) Just another 7th rounder that didn't work out.
2000 Draft Overall
Sum of Colts' AV Averages: 17.33
Sum of Average Picks: 16.93 (Median: 15.58)
Colts' CarAV Total: 125
Average CarAV for next 10 picks Total: 79.8
Total +/-: +45.2
Hit %: 3 for 7- 42.9%
The Colts, after two incredible drafts, fall down a bit in 2000. Their production was just barely above average (historically), getting dragged down on missing all three of their late round picks. However, the Colts hit on three of their four top picks, and the miss (Morris) still ended up being a valued contributor to the team, just one that didn't quite live up to his draft status. In the end, I give the Colts a solid B+. Morris not working out, and missing on all three late picks brings it down, but Washington, Macklin, and Williams were all above average. On another note, this draft was pretty weak after the first six picks or so, and the Colts were making good choices, and getting productive players. I'll take that any day of the week.
I understand your analysis, and appreciate it, but at the end of the day production from a draft is what matters. I don't like to look at a draft purely on the production from a pick (even though that is the most important factor), but also based on how the team evaluated talent based on other players drafted at the same position around when that pick was made. In other words you can't over rate a team because they got lucky with a 6th round pick or a free agent who became an all-pro because obviously every team had that player ranked farther down on the board, and other factors came into play. However, you can rate the teams talent evaluation of say a fourth round offensive lineman by looking at how the other O-lineman drafted after him played. A great example is Brown. He played alright last year, but the next three RBs taken were Beenie Wells, LeSean McCoy and Shonn Greene, all of which by all measures have been more successful so far. The Colts whiffed on their talent evaluation. There is a homerism in the analysis of draft picks, over rating Colts players and refusing to compare the players taken to the players available, and over rating players because they played, not because they were good.
@rogcohen 1. Wells and Greene haven't really played better than Brown. That's inaccurate. Greene especially. Wells is arguable. But, I haven't gotten to Brown so again, you're not sticking to your argument. You keep changing the subject.
I DO compare the picks to the picks picked after. But I stick (generally) to the next 10 picks on the board. You have to limit yourself somehow. You can't just say "well if there was a player after the pick who played better than it was a bad pick." That makes no sense. A perfect example is Williams. He gave great production for his draft position, and had a better career than all but one of the next ten picks. That's great production. What is there to complain about there? He was absolutely a good pick. The only way to succeed under your "system" is if the player picked turns out to have the best career. No way to accurately judge that.
@Kyle Rodriguez@rogcohen Comparing to the next 10 picks doesn't make much sense, especially using AV. You are comparing apples to oranges as AV ranks different positions differently. It doesn't make much sense to compare, say, a defensive tackle, to a bunch of lineman, QBs, punters etc... To see how the team drafted it makes more sense to compare the position the Colt's drafted to other players of the same position taken around the same period of the draft. If we draft a DT, and the next 10 players are all busts but there were two more DTs taken 10-15 picks after the Colts, and those players outperformed the Colts pick, then one must conclude the Colts talent evaluation onwas wrong and they missed with their pick.
@rogcohen Sticking to one position assumes that the front office was set on drafting one position, which I would assume is very rarely true.
You missed my point. I don't think AV is a good way to analyze the draft, and if you want to analyze the draft using just AV (which is basically the point of this analysis) then you should also analyze AV. I used Lacey as an example as most people can remember his play this past season, as opposed to players taken in the above draft. AV is a very subjective number that often fails to take into account how good players actually are, and is biased towards things such as playing time, pro bowl selections etc... A great example of AV's shortcomings are for Pat McAfee this past season, who has an AV of zero, even though he was arguably the best Colts player. In my opinion, it is more beneficial to look at how good the player actually compared to other players in the league at that position, why they were good or bad, and also to look at other players of the same position that were taken both before and after the Colt's selection in the draft.
Your ranking scheme biasis the Colts grade to make it look better. We can take this pick by pick in this draft:
First off, according to the above, we had a need at LB, CB, DT, C, G and probably some other positions we didn't draft. Therefore, using need as part of the grading processes throws off the grade as we "need" basically everything not WR or QB related.
Second, pre-draft ranking should have no effect. Who cares? The Colts always state that they didn't pay any attention to anybody else's rankings, so why should we when evaluating their darft?
So that just leaves the quality of the player.
Rob Morris - B
Rob was a nice guy, but never a good player. His career AV is lower than the Average career AV of players taken AFTER him. This would mean he is below average, therefore a C- to D range.
Washington - A
Macklin - A-
The two cornerbacks selected right after Mackling were Lewis Sanders (AV-16) and David Barrett (AV 35) Macklin's AV is 34. This indicates we could have done better. Also, Macklin wasn't that good. This would be in the B- range.
@rogcohen 1. I don't judge the draft solely on AV. I go through every single pick and look at production, need, context, and scouting reports. The numbers part is based largely on AV, because I think AV does a pretty good job overall. Is it perfect, no, and I don't take it as such. If you have a specific problem with how a certain player is graded due to AV, then share it and share why.
2. AV doesn't judge for punters and kickers, which I mention in the 1999 draft with the drafting of Hunter Smith. But, as for AV and McAfee, to say that he was arguably the Colts' best player is laughable. Besides, AV is not, nor claims to be, a measure of whether a player is "better" than another. It measures production and value.
3. There's no way to "look at how good the player actually compared to other players in the league at that position." "Good" is an opinion, and one that is subjective to what somebody wants, for what a player's role in a system is, etc.
AV is a simple, generally effective way to compare players, but one stat should never be the sole basis of draft study, which is why I look at the other factors.
@Kyle Rodriguez Part 2:
Josh Williams - A-
Josh was a fill in type player. Two DTs were taken right after josh, Mao Tosi (career AV 4, avg 2) and Brian Young (career AV 48, average 5 1/3) Young was available when we picked Josh and was a much better and more productive player. We kind of missed therefore grade B-
Matt Johnson - C
Matt never played. The two O-line players taken after him in this round also didn't play. Still, Dante Hall would have been nice. Grade D - Didn't do a thing.
Rob Renes - C-
We're getting to the end of the long draft now. Only 19 players taken after Rob Renes. However, two were DTs. Rob Meier had a nice long career with a career AV of 36, and so did Alfonso Boone, career AV 28. We missed bad. Grade F
Rodregis Brooks - C
Did nothing. No other CBs taken after this. Grade C-
Nothing really good came from this draft. Grade C-.
Williams: His production was A-, (overall B+). His production was an A- because he had good production for his draft position. As for Young and Williams, Williams was seen as the better prospect, and could play DE or DT. Both players were drafted a round after their projected status. You're blaming the Colts even though they got excellent production from a player who slipped in the draft?
Johnson could be lower. I'll give you that. I'd give him D+ to C-, since I factor in drafting for a need.
Renes was a mistake. Could have been lower, not an F though. D at the lowest, again because of need and a nasty vertebrae injury that led to him never playing. Not the Colts' fault.
Nothing good came of this draft? All you list as being bad picks are two seventh rounders and a late fifth. That makes up a tiny fraction of the draft's worth. You exemplify everything that's wrong with fan analysis of draft picks, refusing to take draft position into consideration, and only looking at the end results (production) in your analysis.
I understand your point, but the draft and it's analysis is always very subjective, and AV is more so than most. Case and point, Jacob Lacey is a huge success according to AV. He had an AV of 5 in 2011, as an undrafted free agent! There fore the Colts 2009 draft must be excellent. His AV is worthy of a first round pick, but in reality he was one of the worst corners in the game last year. The only reason his AV is so high is because the Colts haven't drafted good corners. Therefore one of them has to play, and if you play you have a high AV. I would argue the Colts, especially on defense, have played a lot of sub-par players they drafted. By playing these players it makes the draft look good, especially utilizing AV, but it doesn't make the defense good.
@rogcohen I'm not sure what you're point is here. I thought you were discussing the 2001 draft.
But, if you like, we can discuss Lacey. His average AV for a season is 4. About worthy of an AVERAGE late first round pick. Does this mean that Lacey is great? No. It means that draft picks are vastly overrated by fans. The end of the first round is populated by players who are usually not great. Very few times are they great, usually they make bad-decent starters. Would I spend a first round pick on Lacey? No, because I would want more than average return on a late first rounder, because average return actually isn't very good. Jacob Lacey isn't one of the worst corners in the league. That's a misnomer. He's a a very adequate dime/nickel CB, but shouldn't be starting, especially in Larry Coyer's wacked out system.
In terms of the 2009 draft, I don't count UDFAs. There will be a separate post for them. And one player with an average AV of 4 does not make a good draft. (but I do think 2009 was a good draft, not even talking about Lacey)
Nevertheless, I'm not sure what that has to do with the 2001 draft.
It's a great in-depth review; however, I feel the numbers don't necessarily tell the story of the draft. I went through this draft and IMO, 7 teams had much much better drafts (Miami, New England, Jets, Baltimore, Chicago, Green Bay and Kansas City) 6 teams had better drafts (Pitt, New Orleans, Denver, Oakland and Seattle), 3 teams were pretty much similar (Cincinnati, Arizona and San Fran) and 15 teams were worse (Buffalo, Cleveland, Dallas, Giants, Philly, Washington, Detroit, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, San Diego and St Louis.
With 13 teams better and 15 worse, I would grade the Colts out at a C+. I'm not a big fan of AV, especially if it's not weighted, as it over rates certain types of players and position and under rates others. One of the types of players it over-rates are bad players who play longer than they should have, which has been a theme with colt's defensive draft picks.
@rogcohen To add, the Colts had 27 teams that had higher draft position. So, for them to have only 13 teams with better drafts is pretty freaking awesome.
@rogcohen It's easy to say that one team or another had better drafts, why? Were they more efficient, did they draft more stars, what? Is there any objective measure to your stats, or is it all just opinion?
Kyle, this is a great series and I love the writeup, but something that I may have missed has been nagging me: Do you address the UDFAs at all, and compare them to other UDFAs who made teams and played? Just wondering, as in my mind this contributes to our draft class depth without actually being part of the draft. Dom Rhodes. Jeff Saturday is not techincally one, I guess. Neither was Raheem Brock, whom Philly cut pre-season his rookie year, right? All of whom contributed pretty damn well. Maybe Rhodes is the only one who technically was a UDFA, and that year is coming up, isn't it.... (he was 2001, right?)
@Bobman Yes, those will all be addressed in a special "Retreads" post after the normal draft ones conclude. And yes, Rhodes is the only one of the three who was signed as a UDFA (and in 2001).
Once again I'd compare this one to 2009. You get Washington, Macklin, Williams and Morris versus Brown, Powers, Collie and McAfee. This draft looks slightly better at this point but 2009 doesn't look awful.
I love this look back at Polian's time.
That's a really good comparison. If only more people were willing to take an objective look rather than push their own agendas! @coltsauth_todd