Every year after the draft, I write one of my favorite series.
What to Expect sets historical baselines for each player selected and allows us to evaluate rookie seasons against what similarly drafted players in the past have done.
Now that 2013 is in the books, it's time to go back and see how Ryan Grigson's second draft with the Colts panned out.
Then: "Werner should see action in all 16 games, and he should end up starting at least half the time. We know he'll be in a rotation with Eric Walden, but if he can't take the bulk of the snaps away from him, it will be disappointing. Werner's pass/fail line should be 4.0 sacks and 30 tackles.
If he can produce at that level, he'll be in the top-10 in terms of productive pass rushers taken in the back-half of the first round since 2000."
Now: Werner played in 13 games, earning one start (when Walden was suspended). He picked up 2.5 sacks, 13 tackles and three passes defended.
Verdict: Missed Expectations.
It's fair to call Werner's rookie year a mild disappointment. Even with the relatively low benchmark, Werner failed to earn playing time as anything more than a situational pass rusher. He lacked strength to drive blockers into the quarterback and was routinely handled one one one on the outside.
Then: "There is some hope that they'll contribute, however. They'll see the field plenty, and will likely even win some starts.
A fair baseline for these picks is 14 games played and seven starts. Those numbers would place them in the upper third of guards and centers drafted in this range.
Given the fact that they are actually competing against each other as well, it would be impressive if they both hit that target."
Now: Thornton managed to crack the starting lineup 12 times and appeared in 14 games on the nose. Holmes appeared in just three games, making his debut against Houston in Week 15.
Verdict: Thornton met expectations. Holmes missed expectations.
It was probably never realistic that both of these players would end up becoming factors. Thornton did not play particuarly well, but for a mid-round rookie, you take what you can get.
Holmes struggled with health and to find a way onto the field. He managed only 13 snaps on the season. Given the Colts' struggles in the middle of the line, the fact that Holmes was a complete zero can't be seen as a positive.
Then: Eight games played, one start, one sack and 10 tackles would put Hughes in the top 10 for tackles drafted in the fifth round.
Now: Hughes played in four games with no starts. He picked up four tackles one quarterback hurry and no sacks on the season. He was eventually placed on IR with a knee injury.
Verdict: Missed Expectations
The Colts dealt a 2014 fourth-round pick for the rights to Hughes. That aside, he did not have much impact and didn't live up to the rather soft standard set for him.
Then: A fair expectation for a healthy Boyett is for him to make the club as a backup and play heavily on special teams. Look for 16 games played, two starts if there are injuries and 10 tackles. That would place him will into the top-half of rookies at his position and draft range.
Now: Boyett was waived by the team before the season after an arrest for public intoxication. He spent the season on the Broncos practice squad.
Verdict: Missed expectations.
Then: "For Williams, a fair expectation would be for him to play in five or six games, pick up a carry or two for 10 yards and contribute on special teams. That would place him in the top half of seventh-round running backs. Long term, it wouldn't be impossible for him to become a viable contributor. It is something that happens from time to time, though obviously, the odds are against him.
Cunningham shouldn't be expected to catch the ball much, and if he makes the roster or practice squad it's a plus for the Colts.
Again, five or six games played with a catch or two would be reasonable result for the last player taken in the draft."
Now: Cunningham played 14 games for the Colts. He had one catch for four yards. Williams was cut out of camp, but did make the practice squad. He played in one game on special teams and finished the year on the Chargers' practice squad.
Verdict: Cunningham exceeded expectations, Williams missed them.
Cunningham saw playing time, and for the last pick in the draft, that's all you can ask. Williams failed to make the roster and was essentially a wasted pick.
The Colts drafted seven players. Two of them exceeded expectations and five of them failed to. In all, the Colts got 49 total games and 13 total starts out of the 2013 draft.
The most successful pick was Hugh Thornton. The least successful was John Boyett. None of the players selected showed any signs of developing into a star player, though there is hope for solid future contributions from some.
It would be difficult to characterize this draft as anything but a mild failure at best, though there is still time for long-term improvement.
Pretend the Colts traded down with their 1st round pick and got a 2nd round and a 3rd round picks.
then draft Larry Warford, Hugh Thornton and Keenan Allen OR used the 2nd and 3rd on defense.
The Colts MUST get Talent at Guard and Center, I don't care how, the draft or free agents.
Leron Landry SUCKS, he can't cover anyone and this is nothing new as far as he is concerned.
He was brought in to STOP THE RUN.
Erik Walden the edge setter. PLEASE
Cory Redding brought to Indy to stop the Run. I liked Drake Nevis better.
Greg Toler was brought to Indy to go on Injured Reserve, he was great at it. The way he kept threatening to play all season, what can I say except thats par for the course for Greg Toler.
WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY.
@NateDunlevy Yeah, personally I felt the draft went bad when we took Werner, things just didn't seem to pan out for us, people that I wanted to fall to us didn't but oh well, hopefully next year will be better. And to be honest there were not really many guys that would have been taken that did much this year, 3 that I did like and probably would have been better were Cyprien, Ogletree and Hopkins, guy that didnt do much were Datone Jones, Rhodes who I was high on, but still cant believe we didn't move up to take Keenan Allen when he slipped to the third, I thought he would have been a perfect fit for this offense.
@NateDunlevy You nailed it. Mild average draft. 2014 could be even lower thx to trades. Not a good sign.
@18_josh_w I don't know how it's possible to do much worse in a draft after one season than Grigson did in the 2013 draft.
everytime i think about the draft, i always wish that he had taken Larry Warford instead of Werner. it may have been looked at as reaching, but we had a huge need at Guard and he has been terrific for a 3rd rounder. maybe they were hoping he would still be there when we picked, or if we had our late second rounder, but i do enjoy Davis(most of the time haha)
Hughes, Holmes and Thornton earning starting spots next year would go a long way, for me, towards redeeming this draft. i know he's not a rookie but I'm curious for your take on Josh Chapman's development. He's gotten more work as the season has gone on. Attrition at work or is he getting the hang of it?
I've been looking forward to this piece for weeks... and as always Nate didn't disappoint.
I would definitely deem this draft to be a mild failure, but not a total bust like some others. I do feel Thornton showed promise and will be the starting RG (his natural position) next year and will have a solid season. He was very inconsistent this year and often looked confused especially on stunts (if I remember correctly from Ben's articles), but I do think he'll be a solid RG for the future.
And I honestly didn't expect Werner to meet the standards. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I saw him as a 3-4 year project when drafted and I'm pretty sure that's what he will be. I do think that he showed some improvements towards the end of the season and I can only imagine that he will get better with a full offseason under his belt. I still don't expect him to be a star like Freeney or Mathis but I think he has a potential to be a solid player. I guess only time will tell.
I think the biggest disappointment for me was Holmes who not only failed to uproot Satele or McGlynn, but also managed to barely see the field even as the extra linemen on the jumbo package. The worst was when Xavier Nixon cracked the starting line up ahead of Holmes after only being with the team for a week. I'm never the one to call a pick a bust just after one year, but this may be the closest I come to thinking that it is one.
I find the Werner assessment really harsh. 30 tackles is just enormous for a rush end part time starter. Hell, Freeney found it hard to crack 30 as a full time player from that position, and he's considered borderline hall of fame. Werner also missed essentially four games at the start of the season due to injury, which really slowed him down. He also had more passes defended that Landry of Angerer (and also tied the most Freeney ever had in a year, for reference). For a rookie DE who was purely played limited minutes and was slowed by injury he did pretty well.
@NateDunlevy Love the series. It felt like Grigson aimed high in 2012 and hit big. 2013 draft felt like he aimed low and achieved it.
@NateDunlevy how do you get the 30 tackles, 4.0 sacks baseline for Werner? That SOUNDS good, but do you reference against a true source?
@NateDunlevy great read!
@NateDunlevy Great piece, do you have the one from last year?
@NateDunlevy I already look forward to the 2014 version of this article.
@NateDunlevy Let me guess: Not great.
Wait until you see the next Colts draft, Mild average will look Great.
@MrDuff1 This was well below average. It really would be hard to do worse.
and after that it was as simple as keeping Jerry Hughes, (who i really liked). he had the same amount of sacks as freeney last year while playing a limited role, and now hes been great for the bills and we just have another barely average, if lucky, linebacker in Shepard. i will say that was probably one of my biggest dissapointments this year
@rogcohen @rogcohen If you go back to the comps, it's actually fairly reasonable. Freeney was a pure edge rusher, which is not at all what Werner is projected as. Freeney was also picking up double-digit sacks from his rookie year on, and that is not an expectation anyone had for Werner.
Remember he's essentially playing the same position as Walden, and has responsibilities in this defense against the run as well.
He graded out poorly on tape and the projection was really modest.
He was considered to be a major project player and it looks like the project has a long way to go.
@FtblSickness That is too kind of you.
@NateDunlevy No first round (T-rich) and no fourth(Sumontori). Grigson didn't help himself.
if you go back and look at the first edition of this beginning of the year, theres a chart that looks like stats from a rookie year of colt pass rushers. Werner actually was very similar to Robert Mathis his rookie year. i think if Werner hadden't missed 4 games he would have surpassed Mathis's stats (he missed by 1 sack and a few tackles). i know mathis was drafted in the 5th round and werner the 1st, but mathis is also one of the best ever(for the colts at least)
@NateDunlevy Thank you
@NateDunlevy I like reasoned looks at these things. Plus, I anticipate a fine list of players you could have instead of Mr. Richardson.
@MrDuff1 Though he didn't really get much from those rounds this year anyway.
@rogcohen@apom95@Nate Dunlevy @rogcohen@apom95@Nate Dunlevy
I wanted to do a bit more research before answering you, because your opinion surprised me. Obviously, sacks and tackles are a pretty shallow way to look at the issue. There's no one great way to measure defensive players. The cheat is to try and use PFF grades, but I have problems with those too. I'll try and go into more depth with a variety of metrics.
Werner was pretty clearly worse than everyone on your list but Datone Jones. He crushed him.
Here's how they did using PFF stats (which vary from PFR occasionally):
Grade, snaps, sacks, pressures, tackles
Jordan: 0.1, 339, 2, 18, 16Mingo: -9.8, 668, 5, 18, 27JJones: -3.9, 646, 1, 25, 28Werner, -6.7, 312, 3, 10, 11
Werner played the fewest snaps, but was clearly inferior to Jordan, both by grade and pressures. You could prorate him near Mingo, but his pressures and tackles would still be short of J Jones.
Also, not all of his snap differential was due to injury. Some of it was that he simply didn't get on the field enough. He did get 2.5 sacks (or 3 in PFF), but only 10 pressures. That really does jive with what I saw on tape, which was a sub-standard pass rusher. This is confirmed by the fact that he had the worst pass rushing grade of anyone on the list. His -8.0 is really putrid.
Again, I'm not trying use PFF grades as a trump, so throw them out if you want. They have issues, I'll grant you.
On the balance, however, I don't know that the stats (which are admittedly shallow) or the tape or the scouting grades are particularly encouraging about Werner.
I do think that because of the fact that we KNEW he'd be a non-factor for a few years, it's too early to give up hope. He may well pan out.
I do not think there is any reason to take comfort from his play. I would rate him as slightly below expectations. Similar season expectation-wise to Fleener last year. Not too bad. Injury hurt him, long-term value still in question.
If he takes a nice jump forward the pick can still pan out. Right now, I'd put him ahead of D Jones and behind every other player like him taken in the first.
@apom95@Nate Dunlevy@rogcohenStill disagree about Werner. I think he was drafted as a rush end who would see time this year backing up Walden but is Mathis' direct replacement a couple years down the line. Also, he's had much better year than Dion Jordan and on a par with Mingo, and probably better than datone and jarvis jones. Ziggy is the only DE/LB from the first round that played better. Without injury Werner would be considered one of the best DE/OLB after the first year.