SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 5: Wide receiver Jerry Rice #80 of the San Francisco 49ers braces for a hit as he makes a leaping catch against Indianapolis Colts defensive back Leonard Coleman #21during a game at Candlestick Park on October 5, 1986 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 35-14. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
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Colts Draft Bust No. 8: The Man No One Remembers, Leonard Coleman
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that most of you have absolutely no idea who Leonard Coleman is.
Oh, I'm sure of few old timers out there have heard of him, but I'm willing to bet the vast majority of you are wondering who the hell his guy is and why I'm listing him as the franchise's 8th worst draft pick. Please keep in mind, I'm trying to fit this series into a twenty-six year window. I don't want to include picks made by the Colts when they were in Baltimore. This is significant because when I explain why Coleman is listed here as a 'bust,' you might ask, 'Well heck, why isn't he the team's No. 1 bust?'
I'll do my best to explain.
We all know the tale of the Colts leaving Baltimore. The Mayflower trucks. The drunken rants by Bob Irsay. The slime trail left from the Baltimore politicians who did everything they could to milk the move for every ounce of political creme that they could.
But not many people know what the Colts did when they first arrived in Indianapolis in March 1984. Less than a month after the move, the Colts had to make their selections for the draft. For you trivia nuts out there, you might want to store this little nugget away:
The first pick ever made by the Indianapolis Colts was Leonard Coleman, defensive back out of Vanderbilt.
Indy used the No. 8 overall pick that year to snatch up Coleman. They also had the No. 19 pick, and used that to draft Ron Solt, who might have been one of the best guards the franchise ever had, Baltimore or Indy.
Coleman was a different story. He was a classic draft bust, and his disappointing career in Indianapolis would foreshadow a decade of inept Colts management, incompetent ownership, and horrible football played on the gridiron.
Coleman's career in Indy lasted just three seasons. It's somewhat debatable whether the Colts envisioned him as a safety or as a corner. He was tall for a corner (6'2), but the Colts played him at the position for part of his career. His rookie year, he played in twelve games, but started zero.
In 1985, he was a 16 game starter and picked off four passes (three in one game against the New Orleans Saints). But the Colts were a horrible team that year, going 3-13 and allowing over 400 points on defense. The pass defense was especially awful. They allowed 3,739 yards and 28 touchdowns, which is a lot by today's standards but, back then, that defense was Houston Texans bad. That was the season when, in Week Ten, the Colts played the Patriots in New England. Steve Grogan tossed two touchdowns and picked apart Coleman and the Colts defense for a 34-15 butt-kicking.
The following year, Coleman played in only four games, none as a starter. Injuries and a falling out with the new coaching staff under the direction of Ron Meyer likely contributed to Coleman's demotion. After 1986, the Colts former-first round pick (eighth overall) was traded to the San Diego Chargers for, get this, a 12th round pick (back then, the draft was twelve rounds).
Coleman played two more seasons with the Chargers, none as a starter. He was out of football after the 1989 season.
Not sure what happened to Coleman after he left football. One thing I do know is not many Colts fans remember him. Maybe that's a good thing. He was a heckuva college player at Vanderbilt though. He is tied for the school record for interceptions in one season (eight) and he helped get the Commodores to the Hall Of Fame Bowl in 1982.
No. 10 Draft Bust: Steve Emtman
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