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BEST ROUND EVER IN PRIMETIME
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We're now down to the
top bottom two draft choices in Indianapolis Colts history. This is the absolute bottom of the barrel, folks. One could argue that these two picks so severely damaged our franchise that it took a draft selection like Peyton Manning to pull us up from the bowels of hell.
At No. 2, we have a name ESPN's Mel Kiper surely remembers.
Colts Draft Bust No. 2: Who The Hell Is Trev Alberts, Anyway?
In 1994, after yet another dismal season, the football operations tasks were taken away from Jim Irsay and given to Bill Tobin. For those of you who weren't Colts fans pre-Bill Polian, you might hear Tobin's name pop up a bit more this year. Two men he drafted are headed to the Pro Footblal Hall of Fame in 2011: Richard Dent in the 8th Round of the 1983 draft for the Bears and Marshall Faulk in the 1st round of the 1994 draft for the Colts.
But, most people know ole Bill Tobin not for his prowess as a football personnel man. They know him as the guy who went on ESPN and absolutely trashed draft guru Mel Kiper during and after the 1994 NFL Draft.
Why did Tobin trash Kiper? Because Kiper was critical of Tobin selecting Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts with the 5th overall pick in that year's draft
If you look up the word 'quitter,' you'll see a picture of Trev Alberts. The guy seems to have made a living quitting on things. But before he started making headlines for running away from his contracted responsibilities, Alberts was a pretty darn good linebacker for Tom Osborne at Nebraska in the early 1990s.
In 1993, Alberts recorded 15 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, and 38 hurries on his way to collecting the Dick Butkus award for outstanding collegiate linebacker. In the national championship game against Florida State at the Orange Bowl, Alberts played with a cast on his hand. Though the Cornhuskers lost, Alberts had three sacks on Seminoles quarterback Charlie Ward in that game.
In April 1994, the Colts and Bill Tobin had the second and fifth overall selections in the draft. Just like with the 1992 NFL Draft, this was a chance for Indianapolis to start over again. Longtime malcontents like Eric Dickerson and Jeff George had been jettisoned, and a new era of personnel decision-making was re-making the Colts. Free agents like quarterback Jim Harbaugh and defensive end Tony Bennett were being added to the team, and with the second overall pick, Tobin drafted future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.
But, despite having Jim Harbaugh on the roster, many so-called 'draft experts' (aka, Mel Kiper of ESPN) felt the Colts would use pick No. 5 on a quarterback. Only two QBs were considered first rounders that year: Tennessee's Heath Shuler and Fresno State's Trent Dilfer. Shuler was taken with the third overall pick by the Washington Redskins. At pick No. 4, the New England Patriots took flop artist extraordinaire Willie McGinest.
At pick No. 5, the Colts went against what 'experts' like Mel Kiper were saying they should do (aka, draft Trent Dilfer) and took Alberts.
When Paul Tagliabue called out the selection in Radio City Music Hall that April day, Kiper proceeded to tear into the Colts decision to take Alberts. "That's why [they] keep picking number two every year," Kiper said of the pick.
This criticism did not sit well with Bill Tobin.
In an ESPN interview following the selection, the interviewer brought to Tobin's attention that the network's draft expert, Mel Kiper, was critical of Alberts pick. Tobin's reaction is now the stuff of legend [emphasis mine]:
Who in the hell is Mel Kiper, anyway? I mean, here's a guy who criticizes everybody, whoever they take. In my knowledge of him, he's never even put on a jockstrap, he's never been a player, he's never been a coach, he's never been a scout, he's never been an administrator, and all of a sudden, he's an expert. Mel Kiper has no more credentials to do what he's doing than my neighbor, and my neighbor's a postman and he doesn't even have season tickets to the NFL."
For some reason, the video of Tobin's epic rant is no longer on YouTube. But, the signature moment in this exchange was the cutaway after Tobin ripped Kiper upside down and sideways. Following Tobin's angry throw down, the interviewer literally did a 'Back you you guys,' and the camera cut to Kiper, sitting at the ESPN desk at the draft, fuming. The situation was so bizarrely surreal, so wonderful delicious, so full of all the uncomfortable anxieties that make for great TV, that even Chris Berman didn't know WTF to say next. It's a moment that has come to define television coverage of the draft itself.
Now, while Mel Kiper is nowhere near a true draft 'expert,' (the man thought Ryan Leaf had a winning attitude) he has built a cottage industry around the 'armchair GM' when it comes to the draft. It is this business that has directly contributed to making the draft so profitable for the NFL and the TV networks. But lost in the 'Who the hell is Mel Kiper, anyway?' moment is the truth that both Kiper and Tobin were completely wrong when criticizing-defending the fifth overall pick that year.
Yes, Bill Tobin made the smart move not taking Trent Dilfer. Jim Harbaugh proved to be an excellent quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, and he accomplished more in three seasons with Indianapolis than Dilfer did in his six in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers. However, where Tobin blew it was in wasting the 5th pick on Alberts.
Despite his high draft pedigree, Alberts never became a starter in the Colts defensive system. He simply didn't fit the team's new 4-3 alignment under the guidance of then-Colts defensive coordinator Vince Tobin (Bill Tobin's younger brother). Alberts was a classic 3-4 rush linebacker. He had little to no coverage skills, and he seemed allergic to this thing many people refer to as 'tackling.'
In 1994, Alberts played in only five games (none as a starter). He recorded two sacks that year, but the defense didn't seem to miss him all that much. They were 14th in points allowed that year as opposed to 27th overall the previous year, and new players like Bennett and rookie corner Ray Buchanon were coming into their own.
In 1995, the Colts started using Alberts as a situational rusher on passing downs, tagging him the 'Joker' in their blitz-happy defensive scheme. It's worth noting that, at this time, Alberts' position coach was none other than the late, great Jim Johnson, who would later go on to build some stellar defenses in Philadelphia with the Eagles. Still, despite Johnson as his coach, Alberts never became a consistent starter. He had two sacks and 25 tackles.
In 1996, injuries kept Alberts from playing several games. He only appeared in nine, and never thrived in the Colts blitz happy system that was, at that point, under the full direction of his former position coach, Johnson (Vince Tobin took the job of Arizona Cardinals head coach following the 1995 season; Johnson replaced him as DC in Indy).
Then, prior to training camp in 1997, Alberts decided he'd had enough of football, and simply quit.
Despite an offseason of rehab and learning a defense that was, in many ways, tailor made for his skill (notice how it's singular), Alberts decided that three years was enough. He took the bonus money the Colts had given him, and walked away, leaving Bill Tobin holding the bag. That year, the Colts would limp through a terrible 3-13 season. Tobin was fired immediately after the last game, and Bill Polian replaced him under the new title President of the Colts.
After the NFL, Alberts would move on to invent and profit from new and equally entertaining forms of quitting. After three years of serving as a college football studio analyst, Alberts was terminated from ESPN for, get this, failing to show up for work.
Today, Alberts is the director of athletics at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He had absolutely no experience as an AD before the people in Omaha decided to hand him the reigns. When he was hired, Alberts proclaimed, 'I believe the potential for UNO’s athletic programs is unlimited.' Two years later, he would cut football and wrestling from the program.
Not only is Trev Alberts one of the biggest Colts draft busts of all time, he's probably one of the biggest busts, period.
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