Writer BigBlueShoe was kind enough to post a critique of the article written by Bay Area Comcast Sports writer Matt Maiocco. This critique presented a harsh critique of the Indianapolis Colts position in that article, which placed the Colts as the third best team in the league at drafting, over the last 5 years. According to BBS:
CSN Bay Area conducted a study of each team's drafts over the past five years. The survey took into consideration, among other factors, where teams selected; how many star players were acquired; booms and busts at the top of the draft; late-round gems; and how the players selected contributed to wins and losses.
Now, I'm a little confused on who was, in fact, being surveyed here. The writers at CSN? NFL personnel people? Not sure.
Now, I'm a little confused on why he is, in fact, confused. Why would the writers be being surveyed? Isn't it clear that it's the NFL FO's that are being analyzed? Not sure why he's confused. What I am sure about is that this is a highly subjective critique, and one that I'm pretty sure I disagree with. It's also strongly misleading, especially when evaluating how effective the Colts have been in the draft, and in the league, during the last five years.
After the jump, I'm going to pick this critique apart a little bit, and get at the heart of this very flawed critique.
Also, special thanks to BigBlueShoe for giving me something to do.
3. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Number of picks: 41
Still on team: 28
Best pick: S Antoine Bethea, 2006
Worst pick: OT Tony Ugoh, 2007
Overall: In the past five years, the Colts' first selections came at Nos. 31, 27, 59, 32 and 30. Yet, the Colts have done an admirable good job of adding talent and depth to a team that already had championship-caliber nucleus. The Colts have managed to achieve success in the sixth round, with the additions of two-time Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea, receiver Pierre Garcon and starting left tackle Charlie Johnson. Their lone early swing-and-miss was Ugoh, chosen No. 42 overall in 2007. He was cut before last season.
Of the top five teams (Packers, Saints, Jets, Falcons, and Colts), all have acquired nine starters in five years of drafting. The Colts have the second most picks of that group (Atlanta has 42 picks) and have the most players still on the team (28).
Now, I don't know how information like that validates a team being the third best in the NFL. I mean, The Buffalo Bills (ranked 32st) have 23 of their 43 picks from 2006-2010 still on their team, and eight are starters. The Carolina Panthers (ranked 24th) have 34 of their 42 picks still on the team, with thirteen as starters.
Now, I don't see how somebody gets confused on this part. I mean, the article clearly communicates that the success in the study was not based solely on the numbers given here. Even the "Overall" section gives hints to why the Colts rate so high: very low positioning in the draft, adding a lot of depth, and achieving success in the later rounds. If you read the rest of the article, then it's very clear that there is a large emphasis on where a team picks in the draft, which, again, is something that is specifically credited to the Colts in their summary.
What needs to happen here is a comparison of teams. Not merely looking at one team and declaring them 'bad' or 'good.' If you do that, then the opinion is just that, an opinion. You must compare them to the rest of the teams in the league, as this article has attempted to do. Many people would say that a teams success is one good indicator of whether their drafting has been good (it's no accident that the top , but I'll try and go deeper than that, you know, to prove the point.
Just because someone is a 'starter' doesn't mean they are 'good.' Also, if a sixth round pick is starting, but a first rounder that year is sitting second or third on the depth chart, I don't see how that translates into draft 'success' for the team. Factoring in draft value (where the player was taken), salary cap, and the effect the drafted player had on the team in relation to other 'weak areas' all have to be factored into the equation.
I must state right away that I disagree with this completely. If you get a Pro-Bowler in the 6th round, and a back up in the first, then personally, it's a success for me. I don't care where the great players in the draft come from, as long as they are on our side. If the 'draft value' is bad for a first round pick, but great for a 6th rounder, then it all evens out in my book. As will be discussed later, the first round is not the end all be all.
For the Colts, I absolutely agree with BBS that the Colts had a great draft in 2006. But why should we leave that out in a five year comparison? You can't just leave out a draft because it doesn't fit with your preconceived opinions. Also, the player evaluations in this section is tremendously subjective, and when you go into a "study" with strong opinions on it, it's extremely hard to come out of it with anything different from those opinions.
This was a truly excellent draft at a very critical moment. The Colts had lost Edgerrin James to free agency that summer, but the managed to get three starters and some excellent depth.
I'd say three and a half to four starters (Keiaho), but that's just my opinion. I liked Keiaho.
Only one consistent starter emerged from this group, and he was a linebacker (a position the Colts turnover pretty regularly). A truly awful draft class, especially when you consider that Tarik Glenn had retired prior to training camp that year. It gets even worse when you consider that in 2011 it is possible that not one member from this draft class will start for the Colts.
I don't understand how Tarik Glenn makes the drafting any worse. Ugoh was meant to learn under Glenn, and develop into his replacement. The fact that Glenn left early is possibly a large cause of Ugoh's struggles. However, overall, this draft was not very good, Polian's worst (IMO). Still, the player evaluations are incredibly biased. EX: Gonzalez is labeled as "never consistent, chronically injured; has only played in two of four seasons" He was pretty consistent, showing great promise, when he was healthy. It wasn't until his third year, where a freak knee injury ended his season that he began having "chronically injured" problems. And technically he's played in all four seasons.
Only one real starter from this draft class, and that’s Garcon. I don’t count Pollak because calling Pollak are starting-caliber guard is a big stretch. When the only true starter the team can muster comes from the sixth round, that's not good. It's also worth noting that Garcon isn't exactly a reliable contributor for the Colts. He drops a ton of easy balls, and often has serious concentration lapses. Still, to get this kind of value from the sixth round is excellent. However, that value is offset by how poor the talent haul was overall in the earlier rounds.
Despite the fact that 5 of these seven are still with the Colts, despite the fact that 6 out of the 7 have started, and played significant amounts of time, this was a bad draft. We added great depth, one good starter, and several hopeful future starters (Richard is said to be Saturday's replacement, Tamme will likely take over for Dallas, and I still have hope for Wheeler). While this draft wasn't flashy, it was a solid draft that added a lot of depth.
Unlike the last two draft classes, Powers, Collie, and McAfee provide excellent production as starters. Moala isn’t anything worth celebrating, and Brown is close to being another first round bust. However, if not for this draft class, which is very heavily flawed considered the lack of production from top picks Brown and Moala, the Colts are likely not a playoff team.
I have no problem saying that this was a GREAT draft. We got 3 potential Pro-Bowlers, 7/8 players made the roster, four players who are already starters (only their second year!), and great potential for the future. Moala has the makings of a great UT in our scheme, if we can pick up a decent NT. Brown has been disappointing, but has shown flashes of greatness. I do think the Brown pick was a bad pick, but it could still turn out good for us.
The only potential starter we may have out of this group is Conner, a 7th rounder, who will likely replace Session (drafted only four years ago). That’s poor value overall, especially when picks 1-4 are currently not starting caliber players. In Hughes' case, he isn't even a good reserve. Also, though Pat Angerer started 11 games in 2010, he is NOT a starter. Those starts were due to injuries to other players (like Session, Brackett, and the overall ineffectiveness of Philip Wheeler). Angerer’s a middle linebacker, and Indy already has a ton of bread invested in Gary Brackett.
I'm really confused as to how there is only one "potential starter" here. They've only had one season! How do you already know their potentials? And how do you sell Angerer short like that? He played very well for a rookie, and was drafted to eventually replace Gary Brackett! He did better than I expected at MLB, and was even more of a surprise at OLB. I can't wait to see him for years to come. Angerer started before Conner did, so I'm confused at how he is the 'potential starter' and not Angerer. I love how in the player evals, Hughes' stats are used to make a point, but not Angerer's (88 tackles, 11 starts). That's great value for a pick that some considered a reach.
So, in five drafts, the Colts have managed to gain at least 9 true starters. By my count, Session has started the last two seasons for us, and Moala had a very good season this year. Pollak is not starting material, but is a good back up guard. Not too mention the two LB's of the future in Angerer or Conner, or Hughes and Thomas who haven't had a chance yet.
Now, where this gets nasty is when you take 2006 out of the equation. When you do that, only four true starters have emerged in the last four drafts. That's pretty bad.
Again, it's irrelevant to just take a draft out because it was good, but let's look at this from a different perspective (see below).
Meanwhile, the rest of the starters on the roster were either drafted prior to 2006 or were players who went undrafted and were signed as rookie free agents:
Well, yes. Except Mookie, whose future is unknown. But the Colts don't sign a whole lot of free agents, so it's obvious that if they weren't drafted from 2006-2010, then they probably were drafted before that or undrafted.
Speaking of the Jets, I really don't understand how they can be ranked fourth and the Colts third. I hate the Jets, but it's folly to think the Colts have drafted better than them in recent years. From 2006-2010, the Jets got D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, and Darrelle Revis using their first round picks. Yeah, I now they busted with Gholston, but they scored BIG TIME getting Ferguson, Mangold, Keller, Sanchez, and Revis. That is truly maximizing your first round talent, which no team can ever afford to 'bust.'
Actually, it's not folly at all. Unless of course you are the type of person that believes that the sole indicator of draft success is early draft picks. For example, as shown above, the Colts have (according to BBS) only gotten four true starters in the last four drafts. In the last four drafts, guess how many true starters the Jets have drafted. Four: Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Dustin Keller, and Mark Sanchez. The exact same amount, even though they have had a far better average draft position. That's why the Colts are 3rd in the league.
So, again, when you dig into the details a little bit, I'm not so sold on BBS' critique. The reality is the Colts have done a very good job of drafting in the last five years, and it's wonderful to be a Colts fan.
*Note: I"m working on a more detailed comparison of drafting on the Colts versus other teams. Look for that soon.