It seems the constant battle between Colts fans and Polian fans is that of the Colts off-season acquisitions over the last 5 years. Since the Colts (until this year) haven't signed a free agent that anyone has ever heard of, the battle really comes to the quality (or lack thereof) of the draft.
Of course, some will accuse me of bringing subjective arguments to the table, but I believe the following criteria to be logical and what any fan who follows their team would agree with. When you start throwing around stats that no one cares about (like DYOA, whatever that is) to defend your position, most fans will simply tune you out.
Criteria for a good draft:
First round pick - Ideally this person will start from day 1. If he is not starting and producing like a starter should by year 2 (year three at the very least), then that pick was wasted. There is a massive difference between being a starter and being a good starter. A first-round pick is expected to make an impact and be a serious upgrade. During years 1-2, he is expected to be a very solid back-up who can be depended upon to step up when given the opportunities. Anthony Gonzales looked like he would be a good pick, but injuries decimated him. Jerry Hughes absolutely does not fit this criteria. Donald Brown has been too sporadic to fit this criteria, though he has still shown potential. This is your last year to prove yourself, Donald.
Second-round pick - this person is expected to be a solid starter (this means that he could play for most NFL teams as their starter) within three years (ideally earlier). During the first two seasons, he is expected to be--at the very least--a solid back-up whose talent is such that there is little drop-off in quality when he comes into the game. Pat Angerer fits this criteria. Tony Ugoh does not.
Third round pick - This person is expected to be a solid back-up who could eventually compete for a starting spot. He is expected to remain on the team for the duration of his rookie contract because his play warrants it. Any third-rounder which doesn't contribute at all in the first two years (special teams at the very least) is a wasted pick. Jerry Hughes classifies as a bust even with the third-round criteria applied to him.
Fourth-round pick - This person is expected to make the team and be a decent back-up for the life of his rookie contract. He is expected not to cost the team many points when he does fill in for the starter.
Fifth-round pick - The quality drop-off is expected, but this person is still expected to make the team as a rookie and contribute on special teams (unless he's a QB).
Sixth-round pick - Expected here is someone who will not contribute right away, but could be a capable back-up after a year or so. as fans, we should have no expectations of sixth-round picks ever being a starter. Even with sixth-round standards, Jerry Hughes is shaping up to be a bust.
Seventh-round pick - This person is a camp body who has an outside chance of making the roster.
As fans, we would obviously want all the picks in a draft to be instant starters and pro-bowlers. Objectively, though, we know that isn't going to happen.
I propose the following grading system for judging the Colts drafts:
Round 1: 14 points for exceeding expectations (pro-bowler), 10 points for meeting expectations (solid starter), 8 points for "getting there" (solid back-up), 6 points for sub-par (shaky starter/back-up), 2 points for bust (not starting or contributing even as back-up).
Round 2: 12 points for exceeding expectations (pro-bowler), 8 points for meeting expectations (solid starter or back-up), 6 points for "getting there" (promising back-up), 4 points for sub-par (shaky back-up), 1 point for bust.
Round 3: 10 points for exceeding expectations (solid starter), 7 points for meeting expectations (decent starter/solid back-up). 5 points for "getting there" (decent back-up), 3 points for sub-par (struggling back-up). 0 points for bust.
Round 4: 8 points for exceeding expectations (starter/solid back-up), 5 points for meeting expectations (decent back-up), 3 points for "getting there" (sticking on the roster as second string), 1 point for sub-par (third string). No such thing as a 4th-round bust.
Round 5: 6 points for exceeding expectations (starter/solid back-up), 3 points for meeting expectations (back-up), 1 point for staying on the team.
Round 6: 4 points for exceeding expectations (starter or solid contributer), 2 point for meeting expectations (staying on the team).
Round 7: 2 points for exceeding expectations (solid back-up), 1 point for making the team.
Tony Ugoh was a second-round pick (yes, the colts traded a 1st-rounder to get that pick, but it was still a second-round pick). He started, but was not a quality starter. There are those who defend him as a good pick because he was a starter in the league. Curtis Painter is a starter in this league, but that doesn't mean he is good.
The Colts have exceeded expectations in drafting with some some of the later rounds (Bethea being the prime example), but they have failed miserably in the first rounds.
I give them a pass on Gonzales because of the injuries (he had no injury history prior to that). Donald Brown has shown flashes, but it speaks volumes when you bring back Joseph Addai and draft another RB. It shows that the team doesn't think Brown is a solid player. Jerry Hughes has yet to show that he can be a capable back-up, let alone a starter. Personally, I don't blame Hughes as much as I blame the front office. Hughes was an OLB in college and they drafted him to play a new position. Castonzo started from day 1, but the jury is out on whether or not he is a good pick.