NFL Draft: Can History Teach Us Anything?

With the Colts picking in the 22nd spot this year, there has been much speculation about not only what players will be available, but what direction the Colts will go with that pick. There are also many who have looked back at recent drafts to try to evaluate them.  I decided to take a look at the history of the picks around 22. This is not an evaluation post (really) just a bit of a numbers crunch.  Many of you will remember the last time we picked in tis range, we took a guy named Dallas Clark.  That was a pretty good pick!  

First, I looked at the picks 20-24 for the last ten years.  The chart below is a breakdown of positions that were selected.  I added an editorial column that lists the player I see as the most productive of the five selected.  My analysis after the jump.

Picks #20-24 2001-2010
Year QB RB WR TE OT OG C DE DT LB CB S Most Productive
2010 1   1 1 1           1   Bryan Bulaga
2009     1 1 1 1     1       Michael Oher
2008   3     1           1   Chris Johnson
2007 1   1               1 2 Dwayne Bowe
2006   1         1 1   1 1   Tamba Hali
2005 1   2         1     1   Aaron Rodgers
2004 1 1           1 2       Vince Wilfork
2003 1 1   1 1   1           Dallas Clark
2002     1 1       1   1   1 Ed Reed
2001   1                 3 1 Nate Clements
Total 5 7 6 4 4 1 2 4 3 2 8 4  

The first thing I notice here is that CBs have the largest number selected.  This shows that most of the NFL finds that to be a good value in this range.  The same is true of RBs.  This doesn't necessarily mean that those players will be the most productive.  Only one of the 10 years did a RB become the most productive pick.  Same is true for CB.

The only time the Colts selected in this range during the last ten years was the 2003 Draft when the Colts took Dallas Clark with the 24th pick.  Now lets take a quick look at the general draft strategy of Bill Polian.  Polian has been in Indianapolis since 1998 and has had 11 official first round picks in that time.

Here's a small breakdown of those selections.

Colts 1st Rounders Under Polian
Year QB RB WR TE OT OG C DE DT LB CB S Player Selected
2010               1         Jerry Hughes
2009   1                     Donald Brown
2008                         None
2007     1                   Anthony Gonzalez
2006   1                     Joseph Addai
2005                     1   Marlin Jackson
2004                         None
2003       1                 Dallas Clark
2002               1         Dwight Freeney
2001     1                   Reggie Wayne
2000                   1     Rob Morris
1999   1                     Edgerrin James
1998 1                       Peyton Manning
Total 1 3 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 0  

First thing I see is 7 total offense picks against 4 total defense picks.  We all knew that was the trend.  It's nice to see the numbers confirm it.  Now on to some other trends.

You'll notice that Polian, since joining the Colts has NEVER selected an Offensive lineman in the first round.  Some people will argue that the trade back into the 2nd to take Ugoh is like using a first round pick on an OT.  That's a valid argument, but still is not technically a first round pick.  He has also NEVER taken a DT with his first selection.  This is not good news for those of us that see those spots as our two biggest needs.  This got me thinking...has he EVER drafted either of those positions in the first round throughout his career.

Polian First Round History
  QB RB WR TE OT OG C DE DT LB CB S
Total 2 5 2 1 2 0 0 3 0 3 5 0

You can see from the breakdown that even when he was in Carolina and Buffalo, Polian has never select a OG, C, DT or S with his first pick.  I think this shows a clear trend to the value that he has on those positions.  He has shown throughout the years that he thinks those positions can be filled later in the draft.  We can debate all we want if this is a good strategy for building a team.

 As far as tackles go, he has only taken 2 in the first round.  John Fina in Buffalo with the 27th pick (2nd to last at that point) in 1992 and Blake Brockermeyer in Carolina with the 29th pick in 1995.  Fina spent 11 years in the NFL and played in 2 Super Bowls.  Brockermeyer played 9 years in the NFL.  I'm not sure which of these scared Polian off of drafting tackles early, but it's clear he has been scared away from them.  

With the offensive line needs as seemingly obvious as they are, it's hard to see how anything else could be a high priority, but we all know Polian will do what he wants to do.  Tackles like Costanzo and Carimi are impressing right now and should be available when the Colts are finally on the clock.  Here's hoping he goes against some of his long time trends.

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