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So, because of the NFL Draft coverage, and because we've been doing so much to track the NFL's labor unrest, I unfortunately did not have time to write-up all my Top Ten All-Time Colts Draft Successes in the same way I did the top ten busts. I'm bummed about this because I really was looking forward to writing up full articles on players like Jeff Herrod, Ray Buchanon, and others.
But, instead of one article per player, I'll use this sponsored post to provide for you a list of the top ten all-time best draft selections made by the Indianapolis Colts. I already did a write-up on No. 10, Edgerrin James.
After the jump, check out the rest of the Top Ten.
Indianapolis Colts All-Time Best Draft Selections
10. Edgerrin James, RB, 1999 NFL Draft, Rd. 1, Pick 4
When one drafts a back No. 4 overall, one should expect great production. The Colts not only got that production from James, they got a high character player who just made you enjoy watching football. It was a true pleasure to see him play, and though I think the drafting of Joseph Addai and the development of Dominic Rhodes helped transform Indy into a Super Bowl champion, both those men will tell you to your face that it was Edgerrin James that blazed the trail for their success.
9. Jeff Herrod, LB, 1988 NFL Draft, Rd. 9, Pick 243
Herrod was probably the best value draft selection Jim Irsay ever made, back when Ole Jimmy was the team's GM and his father, Robert, owned the team. Herrod is the best linebacker in Indianapolis Colts history. From 1989-1998, he was voted Team Captain. He holds team records for most tackles in one game (22), tackles in one season (200), and tackles for a career (1,400).Quite simply, if the ball carrier was near him, Jeff brought the dude down. To get this kind of production from a player taken in the 9th Round, back when drafts went on for that long, is most impressive.
8. Dallas Clark, TE, 2003 NFL Draft, Rd. 1, Pick 24
Prior to Dallas Clark, when folks thought 'Colts tight end,' they thought of Baltimore great John Mackey. Today, Clark is right up there with Mackey in terms of accomplishments. Since coming to the team in 2003, Clark has caught 393 balls for over 4,500 yards and 44 TDs. That's almost 50 catches, 562 yards, and 5 TDs a season. Those are Hall of Fame numbers for a tight end.
7. Ray Buchanan, CB, 1993 NFL Draft, Rd. 3, Pick 65
'Big Play' Ray was the best cover corner the Indianapolis Colts have ever had. The man could flat our lock people down, and because he'd spent some time in college at Louisville playing safety, unlike Deion Sanders, Ray wasn't afraid to tackle people. He picked off 16 passes in his four years with the Colts, including 8 in the 1994 season (3 returned for TDs). He also amassed 262 tackles. That's an average of 4 picks and 65 tackles per year. Outstanding production. It was utter lunacy not to re-sign him after the 1996 season, a decision that likely factored into Bill Tobin losing his job after the '97 season.
6. Tarik Glenn, LT, 1997 NFL Draft, Rd. 1, Pick 19
Speaking of Bill Tobin, though the man seemed to have utter disdain for players wanting to be paid market value, his draft record (outside the dreadful Trev Alberts pick) was very good. In fact, one could argue it's on par with Bill Polian's, especially when factoring in Polian's last four drafts. One thing Tobin was good at was drafting offensive linemen, and a great example of that is Glenn. Glenn was one of the best LTs in all of football during his playing career. The man would lock-up one-on-one with some of the best speed rushers in the game... and stone them. Indy has been unable to find a replacement for Glenn since hie retired in 2007.
5. Robert Mathis, DE, 2003 NFL Draft, Rd. 5, Pick 138
Anytime one can find a three-time Pro Bowler in the fifth round... yeah, that's one helluva pick! Robert Mathis developed from special teams ace to situational pass rusher to fulltime starter to all-world defensive end. The man has 74.5 career sacks and has forced 36 fumbles. Those numbers are insane. In fact, they are moving towards Hall of Fame type numbers. Though Robert has had occasion to (unnecessarily) bash me and Stampede Blue on Twitter, we still consider him one of our favorite Colts. He's also one of the best 'value' draft selections ever.
4. Marvin Harrison, WR, 1996 NFL Draft, Rd. 1, Pick 19
The 1996 NFL Draft is often referred to as the 'Great Wide Receiver Draft.' the No. 1 overall pick that year was Keyshawn Johnson. Terry Glenn went No. 7 overall. Eddie Kennsion went No. 18. But, none of those guys were better than Marvin Harrison, who should be a first ballot Hall of Fame selection when his turn comes up, or they should burn down Canton sow the ground with salt. Harrison holds the NFL's single season record for catches with 143. He's second only to Jerry Rice in all-time receptions (1,102), sixth in total yards (14,580), and fifth in TDs (128). Had his career not been cut short by a knee injury sustained in 2007, he'd have broken Rice's all-time records. Harrison is one of the greatest players the NFL has ever seen, and anyone who says otherwise is an ignorant fool who knows nothing about NFL football.
3. Dwight Freeney, DE, 2002 NFL Draft, Rd. 1, Pick11
Dwight Freeney is the best defensive player of his generation, and to get that kind of talent at the No. 11 pick in a draft is indeed maximizing HUGE value. Consider for a moment that Freeney is absolutely better than any of the players picked ahead of him that here, including Julius Peppers (last I checked, Freeney never got booted from a club for quitting, unlike the always temperamental Peppers). Also factor in that the Colts, and Bill Polian, were reamed by the press after taking Freeney, a guy many 'experts' pegged as a late-first, early-second rounder because he was too small (6'2, 265). Freeney has 94 career sacks and has forced an insane 40 fumbles. He too will likely be in the Hall of Fame.
2. Antoine Bethea, FS, 2006 NFL Draft, Rd. 6, Pick 207
When people think of Bill Polian's draft record, they'll often cite players like Freeney, Edge, and Peyton Manning. But, arguably the best pick he ever made, in terms of bang-for-your-buck, was Antoine Bethea. A no-name kid out of fledgling Howard University football program, Bethea won the starting free safety job in training camp is rookie year, beating out Polian's 2nd Round pick from the 2003 NFL Draft: Mike Doss. Since winning that job, Bethea has started 75 of a possible 80 games. He's been to two Pro Bowls and 334 tackles to go with 14 INTs. He is, quite literally, the best safety Indianapolis has ever had. Yes, better than Bob Sanders. Unlike Sanders, Bethea stays on the field. That's why he is on this list, and Sanders isn't.
1. Peyton Manning, QB, 1998 NFL Draft, Rd. 1, Pick 1
Did you really expect anyone else here? If you did, you need to re-think what you view as 'valuable.' There's a saying that when a team drafts a QB No. 1 overall, the payoff has to be a Super Bowl victory. If not, you aren't getting 'value' for the pick, especially when you consider how much money QB demand. With Manning, the Colts got their Super Bowl. In fact, they guy they got is considered by many to be the best ever. Better than Unitas. Better than Montana. Better than Elway. Best, ever. His presence has transformed the NFL and the sport of football in the state of Indiana. He is the quintessential No. 1 overall pick that all No. 1s are judged against.
I hope you enjoyed this series. If you agree or disagree with my selections, chat about them in the comments.
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