Indianapolis Colts Top 10 Draft Busts And Successes In Franchise History: Eric Mahlum


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For the sixth all-time Colts draft 'bust,' we have another player taken in a round other than the first. However, if this player were picked today, he actually would indeed be a first round choice. I'm talking about 1994 second round pick (No. 32 overall) Eric Mahlum, OG out of California.

Colts Draft Bust No. 6: The Lineman Who Couldn't Block, Eric Mahlum

If we are to use Tennessee Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt's definition of drafting successfully:

If you look historically, teams get 2.3 starters per draft and as a team, I think you need to strive to get three starters per draft, or I should say players worthy of starting.

Well, then former Colts vice president of football operations Bill Tobin was about as good at drafting quality, starting-caliber players as current Colts vice chairman Bill Polian is.

From 1994-1997, Bill Tobin helped turn the Colts from a laughing stock into a respectable team. He made his mistakes along the way, but for two of the four years under his tenure, the Colts made the playoffs. They also won two playoffs game (Indy didn't win a playoff game until year six of Polian's reign).

Also during his four years, Tobin was able to draft roughly 2.3 quality starters per year. In 1997, he took Tarik Glenn, Adam Meadows, and Bertrand Berry. In 1996, he took Marvin Harrison. In 1995, Ken Dilger, Elis Johnson, and Zach Crockett. 1994 might have been his worst draft though. Yes, he smartly took Marshall Faulk with the No. 2 overall pick that year, but he also used the No. 5 overall pick and No. 32 overall pick on players that were, quite honestly, not very good.

His No. 32 pick was Eric Mahlum, OG out of California.

Back in those days, there were only 30 teams in the NFL. Thus, the 32nd pick was a second rounder. For those of you out there who know of my utter contempt for the play of 2008 Colts draft pick Mike Pollak, Mahlum is just as bad. The only reason Mahlum is listed here and not Pollak is because Mahlum was picked slightly higher in the second round (Pollak was the 59th overall pick in 2008). Like Pollak, Mahlum couldn't block, and that's not good for an offensive guard.

Mahlum started nine games his first two seasons, and wasn't impressive in any of them. Lost in his rather unremarkable career is that he was part of the Colts 1995 run to the AFC Championship Game. But, as Mahlum began to see more action, the offensive line started degrading. We have no numbers on efficiency for players back then as we do today, but in the three seasons Mahlum played (1994-1996), the Colts surrendered a total of 120 sacks. That's 40 sacks a year, and that's a formula for losing.

Mahlum was never a consistent starter. He played in 13 games in 1996, but started only nine. In 1997, he did not play at all. and was, eventually, released from the team. When he couldn't latch onto another team, he retired from football.

After the conclusion of the 1997 season, Bill Tobin was fired and Bill Polian hired as Colts president.

So, three seasons of play (none of them stellar), and then he retires. For a pick that high, that's a pretty substantial bust.

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