With the dilemma of to draft Luck or to trade the pick settling upon the Colts organization many are speculating what could be had for the pick. Few people realize however, that the Colts have been in this position before.
In 1999 the New Orleans Saints traded their entire draft plus a first and third round pick the next year for RB Ricky Williams. This trade occurred with the Redskins one pick after the Colts took Edgerrin James. One would have to assume that the Colts passed up on a similar offer and took an All-Pro running back instead, but what could have been if Indy took the picks instead of the player?
For this exercise, we are going to take a balance of Colts needs and best player available approach. For example, even though RB was the Colts biggest need by far, there wasn’t a good option at #12 in the first round, so they would have taken a LB. If no legit LB was an option, CB and so on and so forth. Also we’re going to assume that the Colts draft players in the order they are rated coming out of the draft. So we won’t cheat and have the Colts take Donovan McNabb over Tim Couch because of hindsight being 20/20. Finally, we’re going to assume that everyone else drafts identically to what they would have in all else stayed equal. With the ground rules being applied, let’s take a look.
With the number 12 overall pick a high caliber running back is no longer available. The Saints took Ricky Williams and someone not named
The Colts then take Mike Peterson with their first second round pick. I won’t go into detail about that pick as Kyle has already done so very well here.
With the 42nd overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft that was acquired from the Saints. The Colts get their running back. Indy selects Kevin Faulk out of LSU. Though not the prolific all around back that James was. Faulk certainly makes his stamp on the organization. In a similar style to James, Faulk spends his career in
The Colts then take Bulsworth in the top of the third and have a pick that ends tragically.
With the Saints selection, the Colts choose DE Gary Stills out of
Colts take Paul Miranda.
Indy continues selecting extra players in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh round with none of them truly making an impact for the organization. At absolute best they take a runner in the seventh round after drafting Hunter Smith and take little known Donald Driver out of
Fast forward to 2000 and the Colts are selecting 2nd and 28th overall in the draft. Here is where the draft makes the biggest impact for the Colts. Still needing a linebacker the Colts take LaVar Arrington and insert him at LB to complete a corps of Mike Peterson, Cornelius Bennett and Arrington.
Even after taking a stud LB with the #2 pick,
The Colts then pass in the second on Marcus Washington with LB being a strength instead of a weakness and focus on supplying weapons to Peyton Manning. Unfortunately in a weak draft class with hindsight,
Finally, to spend the final pick received from NO, the Colts spend the #64 overall pick on some help in the secondary. The Colts take back to back cornerbacks at #64 and #91 trying to set their defense for several years to come. #64 overall Lloyd Harrison gets the opportunity out of camp to start but never makes much out of it. He is cut a year later and is also out of the league by 2003. Luckily Macklin hits at #91 and not all is lost.
In the end, the Colts would have received a ton of picks for Edgerrin James, but not make a ton out of it. They don’t find anyone that will individually stack up to what James did, but as a unit there are a mix of busts and hits that add up to his seasonal AV without affecting the direction of the franchise all that drastically. The Colts were still going to be up but with a stacked LB corps and a stronger interior line, they would have leaned more on the defense than outgunning the opposition on offense. In my opinion, the Colts would have likely been in better shape today as they would have had the resources to go all out on offense over the next few draft years. So what do you think? Is Booger, Arrington and Faulk > Edgerrin James?
**Side Note** There is also a scenario where you take Javon Kearse instead of McFarland and wind up with no Dwight Freeney or Edge, but Kearse and Albert Haynesworth.
Will this year's draft equal the 2000 & 2001 drafts? We don't know, nor will we know until 2 or 3 years from now. The QB is the most important player on the team, and the hardest to replace. The Colts will draft #2 in the 2nd round & #1 in the 3rd round. That's not far off from the usual draft order during most of the Manning era. Good drafting & some possible free agency pick-ups would give the Colts a stellar team to begin the 2012 season.
The real gem here is the difference in picks. 2 first rounders, a second, 2 thirds, and the 4th-7th. Seeing that the Colts could have put together an equal or better team even having traded away one of their future best players, makes me want the trade more. 3 firsts and 2 seconds. They would end up with an extra top flight caliber player. I'm sure they would even toss in a pick or two after the fourth.
It is interesting but I'd be alot more willing to trade the Edgerring pick then I would this pick. I'd much rather a franchise QB then a franchise RB
Very thought-provoking, Adam. Compiling all those names must have taken quite some time, but it makes for a nice read. Kudos. Interesting to compare scenarios.
I always just assumed that the Colts would trade the '99 and '00 first round picks to move back up and take James, and still end up with a shed-ton of extra picks, therefore filling out the roster and getting the player they desired.
@rogcohen that's what the Redskins did, but it woulda been hella complicated to try and keep all of that straight. However, Edge probably would not have been there two picks later. The Bears were willing to trade down with the Redskins because Edge and Williams were already gone. There wasn't a situation or a candidate to trade back up with to go get Edge.
This is exactly the type of analysis I have been hoping for. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. I still would have made that trade, though. The team needed depth so badly at the time.
what this little project tells me, most of all is that there is usually zero players of impact in the later rounds and UDFA. I mean looking specifically at 1999 and 2000 draft classes the cupboards were bare. Bill Polian made his living off of late round talent. It is asinine to think that Polian is anything less than a Hall of Fame caliber drafter.
@coltsauth_todd not sure if it is a frightening proposition or would have been awesome. Can Haynesworth under Dungy not be a tool?
@JustAJ It's a thought-provoking alternate universe! Same applies to Driver. Does he excel with Harrison and Wayne on the roster or fall out of the league? Is Rob Morris buoyed by a beefy defense?
I don't know. Manning didn't make Jerome Pathon a star and he had more catches during the same time as Driver. He had 114 catches in his first three years while Driver only had 37 with Favre.