Draft season typically gets fans in a tizzy about potential stars and an uninterrupted string of Pro Bowls from that second-round defensive tackle.
Of course, the reality of the draft is that outside of the top 15 picks, the most teams can hope for is a solid NFL starter.
The Colts six selections in this year's draft. Here's a look at what recent history says they are likely to land with them.
Round One, Pick 24
First round picks get the most attention, but as you slide toward the back of the round, the talent is already thin.
Here are the last five players selected at pick 24:
David DeCastro, Guard
Cameron Jordan, DE
Dez Bryant, WR
Peria Jerry, DT
Chris Johnson, RB
The historic career AV for this draft slot is 34. Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder had an AV of 34.
The players on this list for Indy are a mixed bag. Obviously, Chris Johnson has had amazing seasons, but is now one of the most overrated players in the game. Dez Bryant also possesses elite skills. Jerry and DeCastro have battled injuries, but mostly start, and Jordan is a quality end.
The Colts could catch a break if an exceptional player slides, but for the most part, at pick 24 they are hoping for a quality starter for the next four years.
Round 3, Pick 86
In the third round, teams are looking for a project who develop into a starter for two years. Here are the last five players taken at that slot.
Sean Spence (didn't make team)
Asher Allen (out of NFL)
The historic career AV for this slot is 21. The poster child for that value is Reche Caldwell.
If the 86th pick in the draft ever becomes a starter, your GM has done a good job. This player will likely be a depth/special teams guy at best. Zbikowski is a classic guy for this spot. He's not a good player, but not without some value to an NFL roster.
Fourth Round, Pick 121
Once you get into the fourth round, the odds are heavily stacked against a player becoming a star. These guys will likely be weak starters at best.
Anthony Hill (out of NFL)
The historic AV for this slot is 14. Dylan Gandy is a player with a career value of 14. This pick is the quintessential "this guy starts because we have no one better, but we wish we could replace him" player.
Sixth Round, Pick 192
Danny Batten (out of NFL)
Aaron Brown (out of NFL)
DeJuan Tribble (out of NFL)
The career AV for this slot is just 12. Melvin Bullitt is a career 12 player. Teams are looking for a guy who can make the squad and play a little special teams.
Seventh Round, Pick 230
Nathan Stupar (out of NFL)
Career AV for this slot is 11, which shows you how gradually the draft drops off over the later rounds. Former Colt Aaron Francisco was an 11. If the GM can pick up a solid rotational player like Fokou who bounces around the league, he's done well here.
Seventh Round, Pick 254
Chandler Harnish (pick 253)
David Vobra (pick 252, out of the NFL)
The average player here is worth a 7. Former Colt Von Hutchins was a seven. If Mr. Irrelevant makes the roster, it's a good pick.
Overall, the Colts don't have many picks, nor are they particularly high. They can expect a couple of players they take to be solid starters, a couple to be special teams players and backups, and several to be out of the league in five years.
Obviously, great players are found throughout the draft, and we can all point to All Pros taken in each round. Those super-star diamonds-in-the-rough are the exception, however. Most players taken after the first two days won't ever become regular starters in the NFL.
Hey Nate, back in the mid-west. Nice piece. I get the drift that there is a serious cliff in the NFL draft after the 2nd round. I have an unrelated question though:
I signed up (and paid $150 per seat) for season tickets today (before the Indy Star article) since I'm back in the mid-west again. What are my chances of getting in the lower bowl, in your opinion? Hope you are well, sir and enjoy what you're doing with this blog.
I would like to see the Colts trade up for an impact O-lineman or trade down for additional draft picks. There seem to be all sorts of opinions out there on who the Colts might draft but no clear idea of where the Colts preferences are at this point after all the trades and free agent signings. If they stay at #24, my guess is they'll go for "best available".
Also--welcome back to Colts Authority, where accurately describing Chris Johnson as overrated won't start a comments-destroying flame war of epic proportions. I always found that hilarious.
Great stuff as always...I'd be curious, too, about breaking this down by position. Is a WR picked 20-30 generally better than an OT?
I kinda hope they trade down and get more picks in the 20-45 range.
Nate, what you are saying about the average relevance or "approximate value" of players by draft pick is of course true across all 32 teams. The key point is that teams that make the playoffs consistently or eventually make super bowls after year upon year roster improvement are not doing so based solely on high draft picks.
What would be far more interesting is what is the Approximate Value per pick, for teams that made the playoffs the prior year, ie draft orders of 21 and greater, and where these teams made the playoffs more than 50% of the time within a given decade.
Yes, on average across 32 teams, you can say that fans are silly to place so much disproportionate hope and expectations on higher relative pick players. As long as Andrew Luck is QB, Colts fans have good reason to anticipate rarely if ever seeing the team with a draft seed higher than 16. The alternative is to be stuck in mediocrity and waste the talents of a first round Hall of Famer like the Dolphins did with Marino.
I think in the late rounds it is important to draft guys that fit your system that way it gives them the best chance to actually stick around and make the active roster.
Without a second round pick, I would think that Grigson and his staff are really feeling the pressure to get the right guy at pick #24.
What I am hearing is that there appears to be depth in this draft, but not a lot of players seperating themselves. My guess is that there will be several players available at 24 that will become very solid NFL starters. I just hope that the Colts pick the right one.
Nice write up, as usual. The obvious factor missing is how good was the team drafting the player. A bad or rebuilding team has more room for players that may not even make the roster of a well stocked team. A very good team will take more chances on developmental types. Our 12 draft was truly unusual, almost unheard of. There aren't as many starter spots open this year, and the depth isn't horrible in most cases. Would you agree that the odds of getting one day one starter are very slim? Which may not be a bad thing.
@ColtsAuth_Kyle I hear people down play 40 times. I know polian is a big believer in 40s. What's your thoughts?
I bet your odds are great. Even if you don't get lower bowl in year one, I bet you'll be in by next year.
Hit me up on game day. I'd love to say hi!
@dansvirsky really interesting idea for a study.
You are missing the point. The AV is tied to the draft slot.
The draft slot is already tied to record the year before.
While trades can happen that will slightly disrupt the order, the first three rounds (as compensatory picks don't factor in) are pretty much dead on for playoff teams.
The team picking 24th almost always made the playoffs.
So, basically, it's already in there.
@smonroe Well, draft position is fairly static in the first two rounds. Barring trades, first and second rounders picked at 24, are going to teams of roughly the same strength.
Beyond that I doubt it matters.
This team has enough holes. It needs a day 1 starter in round one.
@Nate Dunlevy Nate, my question is that for teams that make the playoffs > 60% of the time over lets say at least 10 years, how important was picking players with individual significantly higher AVs relative to the historic expected AV per draft position. Sure for perennially lousy non-playoff teams finding a journeyman player in the 3rd or 4th round is a plus, but for the consistent play-off teams it's a real accomplishment.
I guess, I'm not following your point. We know drafting good is important. We also know that the back-end of the draft is populated by teams that were good, at least for one year.
Yes, it's great to pick above slot year after year. That's why Bill Polian dominates draft studies.
It's also exceedingly rare. It's not a general quality of good teams. Most have a strong draft or two. Over time, the value of the slot will have its way.
@Nate Dunlevy @smonroe @Kyle @Nate Consider this: Of the 10 DL taken in the first round last year, only 2 were starters. Only 3 of the top 14 corners taken were starters. I see a corner or DL as being a high-snap, rotational, # 2/3 type of guy who eventually works their way into the starting lineup.
But look at what's going to be available in Round 1. They're not going to take a center. The likely only possibility at guard is drafting Fluker and sliding him inside. I hope they don't take a RB in the first. And CB I just don't think the ones who will be there will be ready to start over Toler/Davis day one. They may earn it as the season goes on, but not right away. Same with DL, unless injury lets them start right away.
Honestly, a first-round pick should be a big enough upgrade at all of those positions to warrant a starting job. WR would be the hardest to crack, but Indy is no better than mediocre at best at any of those positions.
@Kyle Rodriguez @Nate Dunlevy I don't see any day 1 starter. Maybe by mid season a G would start. Nate, what position do you see as a Day1 start possibility?
I wouldn't mind seeing one of the better OLB prospects fall to the Colts there but even then, I'm afraid Walden starts no matter what with that contract and the "replacing Freeney" BS they fed him.