HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 29: Tony Ugoh #67 of the Indianapolis Colts warms up for the game against the Houston Texans on November 29, 2009 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Colts won 35-27. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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We're still in the 'top' five for all-time Colts draft busts, and No. 3 on our list is one that we've all written about at length over the past three years.
Colts Draft Bust No. 3: The Worst Draft Pick Of Bill Polian's Career, Tony Ugoh
Tony Ugoh was an awful pick. His selection was a mistake that has, in all likelihood, cost Indy a second Super Bowl between 2007 and now. The Colts traded their 2008 first round pick to acquire Ugoh in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, and they got very little in return. That draft was the worst during Bill Polian's fourteen years as President-Vice Chairman of the Colts. In fact, it may be his worst ever, including his stints at Buffalo and Carolina.
Using our grading chart, out of an expectation score of 68, that 2007 draft netted only a 36. Only one true starter emerged from the 2007 class, and in 2011 that player (Clint Session, 4th rounder) probably won't have that starting job anymore.
Ugoh was really the poster boy for
ineptness ineptitude suck that was the '07 draft class. His case is the classic example of a busted pick. He came in with high expectations, showed early promise, and then fell hard; so hard that he lost his job to a player taken in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft who was a converted guard.
We've written a great deal about Tony Ugoh here. So, there isn't much new we can say about him. He had all the physical tools one needs to be a great tackle in the NFL. In many ways, he was more talented than arguably the best left tackle the Indianapolis Colts ever had, Tarik Glenn.
It was Glenn's sudden retirement in 2007 that thrust Ugoh into the starting lineup. While he looked good at first, he struggled in the second half of the season. Many of you might remember the blown block on Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman in the playoff game that season. The Colts were down 28-24 with seconds to play. They'd marched all the way to San Deigo's goalline and were poised to re-take the lead and beat the Chargers. Manning dropped back, but pressure from Merriman, who blew by Ugoh like he wasn't even there, forced an early throw. The ball bounced off the RCA Dome turf, and thus ended Indy's 2007 season.
Ugoh's 2008 season continued were his 2007 one left off, circling the drain. For many, the thought was he lacked toughness. Others felt Ugoh was too hard on himself after he made a mistake. Mistakes seemed to linger with him, and after a while they started becoming more of a habit rather than the occasional screw-up. By 2009, Howard Mudd and new head coach Jim Caldwell decided they were done with Tony. They benched him in favor of converted guard Charlie Johnson. After Indy's Super Bowl run in 2009, the Colts tried to switch Uogh to guard during the 2010 off-season.
It was a failure.
Ugoh would eventually get injured in preseason, and the Colts parted ways with him prior to Week One of the 2010 regular season. Bill Polian addressed the mistake that was Tony Ugoh in December 2010:
With respect to drafting offensive linemen, first of all the responsibility is mine. When we miss on a guy like Tony Ugoh, that's my mistake. And we did miss on him. There's no question about it.
Without a stable offensive line, the Colts running game has gone from rushing for 1,762 yards in their championship season of 2006 (4.0 a carry) to 1,483 yards in 2010 (3.8 a carry). We've seen protection for Peyton Manning breakdown easier in recent years, forcing him to make more quick reads. It's also given us the now infamous 'bubble screen' play.
Also, by taking Ugoh, the Colts likely passed up on better, higher quality linemen in subsequent drafts, such as Eben Britton (2009) or Rodger Saffold (2010). Had the Colts not traded for Ugoh, and retained their 2008 first round pick, they'd have had a chance to draft players such as Matt Forte, Eddie Royal, Jordy Nelson, or Tracy Porter (the man who would pick off Peyton Manning in Super Bowl 44 and return it for a TD in a win for the New Orleans Saints).
No. 10 Draft Bust: Steve Emtman
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