This is the eighth 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).
And now we begin. The 2007 draft is one of the most hotly contested cases against Bill Polian, and the year that most people would associate with the beginning of the Colts' decline in drafting. What most people forget when discussing it is how low in talent the draft was, and while some teams did well (Giants), the draft as a whole was lacking.
1998 Draft (A-)
1999 Draft (A)
2000 Draft (B+)
2001 Draft (A)
2002 Draft (B)
2003 Draft (A+)
2004 Draft (B)
2005 Draft (C)
2006 Draft (A+)
#32 WR Anthony Gonzalez
Career AV (Season average): 4
Average AV for #32: 4.9
Median AV for #32: 4.5
As our own Nate Dunlevy put it last August, Anthony Gonzalez was rare. After having phenomenal rookie and sophomore seasons, Gonzalez sprained his knee on a freak injury during the first game of the season. He would go on to miss the rest of the season, as well as the majority of the 2010 season with multiple injuries. Gonzalez, even more so than Marlin Jackson from 2005, was very productive before getting hurt, and had his promising career cut short. The current Colts team with a healthy Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, and Anthony Gonzalez would have a much different feel to it.
The Colts needed a young, budding receiver to eventually replace Marvin Harrison, who was not getting any younger. However, the defensive side of the ball needed work, especiall with the loss of Cato June to free agency, and defensive tackle still being poor.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (C+)
Gonzalez was ranked 6-8th among receivers, and projected to go in the early second round. He was taken 6th at the end of the first. The Colts evidently knew they wanted a receiver, and Gonzalez seemed like the "safe" pick to excel in a Manning-led offense. (Ironically, the one player who most people bemoan passing on, Steve Smith, has ended the last two seasons on IR, and has just one season better than Gonzalez' first two.)
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 15.2
Gonzalez CarAV: 16
Paul Posluzny and Eric Weddle are the biggest misses here, as they would have given the Colts more firepower on defense. However, the Colts were set at MLB and safety (or so they thought) at the time, what they really needed was depth at cornerback and OLB. In that sense, Chris Houston may have been the best pick at the time, and he's been, well, uninspiring.
Gonzalez' career has been a disappointing one to say the least, but it's hard to blame the Colts for that. Freak knee injury aside, Gonzalez was primed to break out in 2009 and become a star. Yeah, now it hurts to see that the Colts missed on Posluzny and Weddle, but at the time the Colts really didn't need another safety or MLB, so the blame there is dulled.
#42 OT Tony Ugoh
Career AV: 4.25
Average AV: 5.31
Median AV: 5.2
It's often forgotten that Ugoh was actually pretty good for a rookie during 2007 when he was thrown into the fire at left tackle. However after that, it was pretty down hill. Rumor was that Ugoh's attitue (which was known to be suspect before the draft) was causing him to regresss, instead of improve, and the Colts eventually replaced him with Charlie Johnson. But, his contributions in 2007 and 2008 were valuable, and should not be thrown out.
The Colts needed a left tackle to eventually replace Tarik Glenn, who was expected to retire after the following season. But, Glenn retired early, making Ugoh even more valuable.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C)
Ugoh was taken right where he was expected, but two things are disconcerting about it:
A. Gave up their 2008 first round pick.
B. It was widely known that Ugoh's attitude was suspect, and that is what eventually led to his downfall.
Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 13.1
Ugoh's CarAV: 16
LaMarr Woodley and David Harris are the big misses here, especially with the Colts' needs at linebacker, but everyone else was medioce to bad here (Sidney Rice has had one good season).
Before you come at me with pitch forks and torches, hear me out.
Was Ugoh disappointing? Yes, we wanted and hoped that he would be a franchise left tackle.
Was it an awful decision by the Colts to draft him? I don't think so.
It was a decent decision to draft him, albeit not great. Why? Because without him, the Colts have nobody to play left tackle in 2007 and 2008. The Colts needed a left tackle, and Ugoh was the best one left in the draft (Jermon Bushrod, Ryan Harris, and Doug Free have turned out decent seasons, but they weren't ready to start in 2007). Charlie Johnson turned out to be a passable stopgap, but he was downright bad in '07-'08. The Colts needed a left tackle, and Ugoh was the best choice. The loss of the 2008 first round pick hurts, but the Colts had to do it to get a left tackle.
#95 CB Daymeion Hughes
Career AV: 0.75
Average AV for #95: 2.17
Median AV for #95: 1
Hughes competed with Tim Jennings for dime/nickel spots for a couple of years, but was cut in the 2009 preseason.
The Colts needed depth behind Jackson and Hayden at cornerback, with Nick Harper leaving via free agency.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (A+)
Hughes was seen as a potential first round pick before slow 40 times in his combine caused him to slip. Even so, he was seen as a second round pick, early third round at the latest. The Colts got him at the end of the third, and it looked to be a perfect fit, as Hughes was expected to be able to contribute right away in a zone system.
CarAV of next 10 picks: 4.2
Hughes CarAV: 3
The best player of the next 10 picks is Michael Bush. Yeah, you could say 2007 was a bad draft.
Remember, this is a grade of the pick, not the player. The Colts needed a cornerback, and Hughes looked to be a huge steal at #95 overall, especially considering the lack of talent surrounding him. The fact that he didn't pan out is just one of the nuances of the draft.
#98 DT Quinn Pitcock
Career AV: 2
Average AV for #98: 2.94
Median AV for #98: 2.44
Quinn Pitcock played decently as a rotational tackle during his rookie year. Unfortunately, he surprisingly retired during the offseason, which was later revealed to be due to depression and a video game addiction. It's depressing for fans as well, as the Colts were in desperate need of defensive tackles, and Pitcock seemed to have potential.
Defensive tackle seems to be permanently affixed on the top of the Colts' list.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C)
Pitcock was projected anywhere from the late third to the mid fifth round, ranked 9th among defensive tackles. He was the 9th tackle taken in the late third.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 6.8
Pitcock's CarAV: 2
Safety Tenard Jackson is the only miss here, and would be welcome on the current squad, although the 2007 Colts were not in dire need of him.
Pitcock's demise due to depression is a sad one, but one that was extremely harmful for the Colts, who lost one of their most promising tackle prospects.
#131 S Brannon Condren
Career AV: 0.5
Average AV for #131: 2.08
Median AV for #131: 1
Condren has bounced from team to team as a special teams player, never sticking anywhere.
The Colts could have used depth at safety, but there were much bigger problems.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (D-)
I have no idea what the Colts were going with here, as Condren was seen as a 6th round prospect at the very best, but was most likely thought to be a special teams contributor. For the Colts to use their fourth round pick on him made little sense.
Average CarAV: 7.1
Condren's CarAV: 1
Steve Breaston was picked at #142, and would have given the Colts a weapon to use at PR/KR, as well as another competitor for WR. Not much else here though, except for bit players.
Condren made very little sense at the time, and his failure to pan out isn't surprising.
#136 LB Clint Sesion
Career AV: 4.5
Average AV for #136: 1.72
Median AV for #136: 1
Session turned into a starting linebacker during his sophomore year, and was a hard-hitting fan favorite by his breakout year in 2009. He was injured for most of 2010, but that didn't stop Jacksonville from signing him to a 5-year, $29 million dollar contract.
Gilbert Gardner started for the majority of the 2006-2007 season. That's how bad the linebacker core was for the Colts for the 2007 draft.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (C)
The Colts gambled again on a player, nabbing Session with their fourth round compensatory pick. Session was, like Condren, seen as a special teams player to be taken in the 6th or later, but this time it worked out, as Session turned into a good starting linebacker.
Average CarAV for next ten picks: 7.4
Session's CarAV: 17
Again, Breaston is the only notable.
I'll take off some for reaching on Session, but overall it was a very good pick, getting an impact player at a position of great need.
#169 WR Roy Hall
Career AV: 0
Average AV of #169: 1.29
Median AV of #169: 0.5
Hall played in seven games in two years, catching one pass.
Having drafted Gonzalez already, there were bigger needs, such as RB, DT, and LB.
Pre-Draft Production: (D)
Hall was ranked as a 7th rounder or UDFA, seen as a special teams prospect at best. Hall never caught more than 17 passes in college, so this projection made sense to me.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 3.7
Hall's CarAV: 0
William Gay has developed into a decent cornerback for the Steelers, and would have been a good pickup for the late fifth round. Legedu Naanee was also picked after Hall, and would have been a better receiver prospect.
This happens a lot this late in the draft (especially this particular draft), but that doesn't excuse the fact that it made very little sense to draft Hall.
#173 CB Michael Coe
Career AV: 0.33
Average AV for #173: 2.34
Median AV for #173: 1.75
Coe played sparingly with the Colts for one year, and has had similar roles with Jacksonville and the Giants since.
Depth at corner was essential for the Colts.
Pre-Draft Rankings: (B)
Coe was all over the draft boards, seen as high as a third round prospect, and as low as a seventh.
Average CarAV for next 10 picks: 3
Coe's CarAV: 1
Kicker Nick Folk was the only one to pan out.
Coe didn't pan out, but this late in the draft that's fairly common, especially in 2007.
#242 DT/DE Keyunta Dawson
Career AV: 3.5
Average AV of #242: 1.06
Median AV of #242: 0
Normally, I'd grade this production higher, but I think his AV is inflated a bit, simply because the Colts had no other options. Dawson filled in as best as he could, but was pretty bad.
Defensive line rotation can always use players.
Pre-Draft Ranking: (B)
Dawson was seen as a UDFA, someone who would fit in as an OLB in a 3-4 system, but the Colts drafted him in the seventh and used him as a jack-of-all-trades, mainly at defensive end, but occasionally at defensive tackle (2008 debacle).
Average CarAV of next 10 picks: 4.2
Dawson's CarAV: 13
Ahmad Bradshaw would have been a great complement to Joseph Addai, but a running back in the seventh round is usually expected to be a special teams contributor, nothing more.
Fans may loathe Dawson, but for the Colts to get the production out of him that they did is very good for a late seventh rounder.
2007 Draft Overall
Sum of Colts' Averages: 19.83
Sum of Average AVs (historically): 23.83 (Median: 17.39)
Sum of Colts' CarAVs: 69
Sum of next ten picks average AVs: 64.7
Hit %: 4/9- 44%
The Colts had nine picks in this draft, which was unfortunate because this draft was awful, talent wise. As you can see, the Colts were middling in this draft, below average historically, but above the median. In the context of the draft itself, the Colts early picks under achieved, but the Colts committed no huge gaffes by missing players.
Looking at the individual picks, it's hard to put much blame on the front office. Gonzalez was a great pick until injuries wrecked it. Ugoh wasn't what we needed him to be in the end, but he was the right pick for the time, and we needed him in '07 and '08. Hughes was a steal, and one that was just unfortunate that he didn't work out. Pitcock looked like very good value, and then a depression caused him to retire after a promising rookie season. Session was great value at #136, and Dawson was even a producer. Condren, Hall, and Coe weren't good picks, but they were also late picks in a bad draft. The talent around them was almost non-existent.
So, for the 2007 draft, I give the Colts a B-. Remember, that's not a judgment of the players themselves (as many draft grades are), but of the picking of the players at that time and place. I think when you look at the individual picks, it's difficult to justify placing lower grades on the front office for the picks they made at the time.
So that's that. Tear it apart!
I disagree. I understand the system used and respect the writer immensely. But any system that says this draft is a B- is an incorrect system...
This draft was a disaster and the beginning of the Colts downfall. I'm not a Polian hater either. It's very hard to draft 30th every year. But the Ugoh bust set the OL back several years and also wasted a 1st round pick...
I am not criticizing the article. It's a great read but calling this draft slightly above average makes it hard to take the rankings serious...this draft was a C- or D draft.
Gonzo showed promise and it's not the FO's fault he was injury riddled. Seassion became a pretty good player and a fan fav so it's not an F- draft like many fans say but the other picks were a virtual waste. Session is gone and Gonzo is a constant scratch.
If you have a draft that and none of those players contribute 4 years later it's not an above average draft.
That said I love the site and the writers here thanks for insightful analysis and allowing the readers to come to conclusions as opposed to wallowing in conjecture fraudulence and rumor mongering
@Supreme Omega If I'm hearing you right, you judge a draft based on how many contributors are left after 4 years?
Not what I said. My point is that the draft yielded 0 players that had a long term impact with the Colts...
B- means slightly above average. That draft was a bad draft and a disaster that started a downward trend.
Just my opinion. I like your writing and the site. But bad drafting is bad drafting. I praised the FO for the drafts up to 07...but this was the worst draft in the Polian tenure...
Kyle, I like a lot of your work, and I think you're a fine writer. And I agree the Colts get a little unfairly maligned for their drafting, especially given their low average drafting position. But this draft grade thing just isn't working for me. I think it largely has to do with the scoring premise, which you summed up as:
" Remember, that's not a judgment of the players themselves (as many draft grades are), but of the picking of the players at that time and place. I think when you look at the individual picks, it's difficult to justify placing lower grades on the front office for the picks they made at the time."
Now, I've often argued with people that this style of grading is the type of analysis we should get immediately after the draft. In fact, I think it's the ONLY legitimate analysis anyone can do right after a draft -- did a team get good value for their picks, based on the "perceived" value of the players they chose.
But this isn't right after the draft. You're looking back with enough time and evidence to grade the actual value of the picks. In the end, that's the only metric that matters: Did we pick good players?
In that regard, there's no way this draft could be a B-. Even by your own scores, only two of the draft picks (Session and Dawson) outperformed the avg. draft pick at the position. The rest all underperformed -- some severely.
But the thing that riled me up the most was your coring for the Daymeion Hughes pick. Hughes was an absolute bust, and yet you rated the pick as a B. The rationale? That Hughes was highly rated (potential 1rst rounder) who seemed to fit our scheme that we snagged a full round after the experts expected him to be gone. In ohter words, we got great "perceived" value. According to your analysis "the fact that he didn't pan out is just one of the nuances of the draft."
You do realize that, according to this grading standard, you'd have to give the Chargers a solid B for drafting Ryan Leaf. After all, they landed one of the top prospects in the draft, at a position of great need for the team, and the snagged him at the appropriate spot. Good pick, right?
Wrong. Leaf was a bust. Hughes was a bust. Ugoh was mostly a bust (one solid year and one middling year from a player who cost a 1rst and 2nd round pick is NOT good value). Pittcock, Condren, Hall, Coe - all busts.
And I won't kill the Colts/Polian for missing on some picks -- every team misses on some picks, every single year. It happens. The draft is not an exact science.
But it seems like this series is more attuned to explaining the rationale for the picks that Polian made, rather than gauging the results. I don't need a defense of Polian's thinking -- hit or miss, I've often seen the logic and strategy behind the picks he made.
But that's not how GMs are judged. GMs are judged on results. And we've clearly had enough time to see how the talent in this draft panned out. And it's clearly NOT a B-.
@Neven Your thinking is based all on the results, which plenty of draft grades are based on. Mine is a little different, and I've billed it as such. I'm looking at the picks from more than one angle. I'll go through and grade the drafts just based on the numbers and production after I finish this in context study, so that may be more to your liking.
Yeah, I wouldn't kill the Chargers for picking Leaf. He was a bust, but that doesn't mean that it was a stupid decision on their part. Every GM in the league would have made that decision if the Colts had picked Manning (as they did). I wouldn't give the Chargers an A, or even a B, it probably would have been a C. The rationale for Hughes is that he was a huge steal. Leaf was not the same. It would have been like Leaf slipping down to the middle of the first round, and someone snatching him up. Hughes was regarded by an awesome pick by everybody at the time, and the fact that he didn't pan out brings it down to B-, maybe C+, but in my mind I can't fault the Colts much more for getting a steal at a position of need.
@Kyle Rodriguez@Neven I understand the logic of it, but nevertheless having a trend of drafts that didn't end up with the production that the drafts before them did and turned out to be below average in terms of career production has to say something about the picks themselves. Certainly, it's impossible to predict an injury, and maybe that says more about our training staff or style of play than the drafting itself, but at the same time a draft like this is just average (if not below) even if Gonzalez hadn't gotten several rough injuries. Session was the highlight, certainly.
For somebody who was picked that late in the draft, it's very common to have no production. I take the draft position into account. Had that happened in the early fourth or higher, I likely would have given the pick an F, whereas that happening in the first or early second would be an ultimate fail.
Note to everybody: the Gonzo and Ugoh grades were flipped. It should be a B- for Gonzo and C+ for Ugoh.
I guess I don't totally understand the grades. What exactly are we trying to grade? Were it not for injury, the Gonzo pick could have been a great pick. His stats the first two seasons indicate a great talent at a skill position. But the Colts just get a C+? And it's not like he was an injury-prone guy who they knew had some injury risk. Are they being graded based on their ability to predict fluky injuries? If it's based solely on how good a guy is in the NFL, then the grade should be at least a B if not an A. But I'm not saying you're wrong either - his career production to this point warrants no more than a C+, if not lower.
This is the problem with grading drafts. Some things are impossible to predict - can you really punish a front office for that?
Should be a B-. But, while I agree with you, I also think that the majority of draft analysis should be based on production. While you must look at the context and realize that injuries are just luck, most of the final grades are based on prouuction. Although I do try to take those other things into account.
@psvirsky I would have given Gonzo a higher grade too. He's been healthy nearly all of 2011 but for some reason the coaches buried him. If he slips away next year and wins a starting job on another team I'm going to have some hard words for Jim Caldwell.
@squirrel Agreed. If I had to bet, I still would guess that his career is effectively over (based on an assumption that the Colts decision makers last year couldn't be that bad). But I do really hope to see him back on the team and used effectively. If he, Collie and Garcon can mesh with Luck like they did Manning, we could have a truly explosive offense (taking into account Brown's explosiveness and the improving O-line). All three of those guys can run WR screens effectively, as Arians seems to like. There is a lot to be seen...
@psvirsky Everyone needs young WR talent. I'd be surprised if he doesn't get at least one decent offer from another team, one that didn't jerk him around all through 2011.
B- seems very generous for this draft. Ugoh should take a bigger hit for being over drafted since we gave up a 1st. I would also contend that at the time, we did not know Tarik was going to retire. OT was not as big of a need.
@invisibulman They did know that Glenn would retire, it just came a year early.
@Kyle Rodriguez If we had drafted Blaine Gabbert last year would that get an A+ for need? I don't think it is fair to give that grade in retrospect. Drafting a QB last year would have been wrong because at the time we assumed Peyton was going to play and we badly needed OL help.
@invisibulman I would argue that not knowing Tarik was going to retire when he did made the pick of Ugoh smarter. The Colts were counting on Ugoh being able to learn and observe for at least a year under Tarik. Who knows what that year of being around the Great Tarik Glenn would have meant for Ugoh? Seeing on a daily basis not only how to properly play the position but how to be a consumate professional, may have turned the talented but troubled Ugoh into something special.
(And I'm sure that is what the Colts were counting on.)
@invisibulman Again, they didn't give up a #5 pick or even a #16 pick for Ugoh, they gave up a #29 pick. Marlin Jackson was a #29 pick and grades out the same or worse than Ugoh, albeit because of injury rather than attitude problems. Ugoh was filling a much more urgent need, especially as we see now that Peyton needed all the protection he could get.
But Marlin made a legendary pick in a huge game so he's lauded as a hero while Ugoh is reviled as a bust. That's bullshit.
I might have graded Ugoh at C-plus or C since his attitude issues should have been predictable, but then again Ugoh was supposed to have a full year to develop behind Tarik. Tarik's abrupt retirement did Ugoh no favors at all.
I know what you're saying with the Ugoh pick, but a B+? Sure, we could've used a LT in the draft, but we also traded our FIRST ROUND pick in the 2008 draft for him. And if the 2007 draft was as weak as you continually said it was, then why did we reach in such a weak draft and trade the first round pick for the following year?
Ugoh is a D+ at best. Horrible bust that cost us much more than he was worth.
Ugoh grade is supposed to be a C-. Regardless, there's no way he's a D+, he was too valuable for two years to be that low. @ninpojames
@ninpojames The Ugoh grade is a B-minus, actually.
Putting FIRST ROUND in capital letters doesn't make the pick more valuable. There's a mountain of evidence that all first round picks are not created equal, that there's a considerable dropoff in talent after the top half or even the top third of round 1. The #29 pick the Colts gave up just isn't that much more valuable than the #42 pick they bought to get Ugoh.
There's no planet on which a decent 2-year starter at LT is a bust. I might grade Ugoh lower than B-minus but not tons lower. To grade him at D-plus you've got to tell me 1) who the hell was going to play LT after Tarik left us in the lurch, and 2) who was so obviously good at #29 in the 2008 draft that the Colts were fools for missing him. And no, reaching down to cherry pick someone like Ray Rice doesn't count.
@squirrel I know that capital letters don't make the pick more valuable, but they do convey importance. I know we're posting on the internet, where many people rage with their caps lock on cruise control, but I am not one of them. Maybe instead of making snide comments about two words I capitalized you could actually spend time forming a respectful reply.
I'm not saying that Ugoh wasn't needed. I'm saying that Ugoh wasn't that valuable, especially not to trade the following year's first round draft pick. The reason why he was a starter for 2 years is because Glenn left unexpectedly, and the Polians decided to reach.
Let me ask you this question: If Ugoh is such a good player then why isn't he still starting in the NFL?