People commonly say not to judge draft classes until after the third season. While all the talk recently has been about the Colts 2013 draft class (and rightfully so), it also has been three seasons since the 2010 draft class took the field. Let’s take a time out from looking to the future of the 2013 class and for a moment look back at how the 2010 draft panned out, back when Bill Polian was running the team.
Round One (31)- DE Jerry Hughes, TCU
This is the definition of a "bust". I mean, just five games into his rookie season there was already talk about whether or not he was a bust. Three years later, it's not even a question anymore. You won't find anybody who would claim that Hughes was anything other than a bust. In three seasons, he has 62 tackles and 5 sacks. Whenever Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis would go down with an injury or need rest, Hughes was unable to step in and provide consistent pressure. Perhaps the most concerning part about Hughes' play was the lack of special teams production - something that a speed guy like him should be able to do. Granted, Hughes took a big step forward in 2012 and recorded 41 tackles and 4 sacks in his first year in the 3-4 defense, but it was still not a very good year for an outside linebacker (though by Hughes' standards it was and I actually considered him one of the most improved players on the team last year). Yesterday, the Colts officially ended the Jerry Hughes era by trading him away to the Buffalo Bills (after this article had been written, mind you, which forced me to edit it a bit). Hughes was a bust in every sense of the word and while I hope that he can continue to build on the improvement he made last year and salvage his career, I am skeptical - because he was truly awful in Indy, especially for a first round pick.
Round Two (63)- LB Pat Angerer, Iowa
While Bill Polian and co. botched their first round pick, they nailed their next one. They took a linebacker out of Iowa named Pat Angerer. After an impressive preseason (36 tackles, 2 sacks), Angerer started out the season on the bench behind the well-liked defensive captain of the Colts, Gary Brackett. When Brackett went down early in the season, however, the rookie Angerer stepped into the starting role and never relinquished it. Angerer finished the 2010 season with 88 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 2 passes batted down. The next year he started 16 games for the Colts, and while the team struggled (going 2-14), Angerer shined. He racked up 148 tackles, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, picked off a pass and batted down 3 others. I even named him my Colts' team MVP after the season (granted, there wasn't much to choose from but Angerer's season would have been impressive no matter what). This past season, however, Angerer struggled with injuries all year and saw limited playing time due to the emergence of Jerrell Freeman and Kavell Conner. He finished the year with only 28 tackles. While his future role with the Colts is uncertain right now, that doesn't negate the work that he has already done for Indy in being a very good linebacker. As bad as Polian missed on Jerry Hughes in the first, he nailed the pick of Pat Angerer in the second.
Round Three (94)- CB Kevin Thomas, USC
Bill Polian took a chance on an injury plagued corner out of USC in the third and, well, let's just say that it didn't work out. Kevin Thomas missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury and, while he came back in 2011, he was nothing special. He made 33 tackles and batted down 3 passes in 9 games (5 starts). He was in the mix for the second starting corner spot in 2012, but new general manager Ryan Grigson traded him to the Eagles in exchange for linebackers Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd - a move that proved to be a tremendous one for the Colts. Thomas was subsequently released by Philadelphia shortly after the trade and he hasn't signed with a team since. This one also was a bust.
Round Four (129)- OG Jacques McClendon, Tennessee
In the fourth round, Bill Polian tried to address the offensive line by taking Jacques McClendon. However, McClendon would play in only 4 games for the Colts in 2010, his only year with the team. He has since spent time with the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, and now currently the Atlanta Falcons. While he has managed to stay in the league, the fact that he only played 4 games for the Colts means that this pick was another bad one for the Colts.
Round Five (162)- TE Brody Eldridge, Oklahoma
Considered to be the best blocking tight end in the entire draft, Polian and co. took Brody Elddridge out of Oklahoma. The Colts hoped that he would be the blocking tight end, which would allow them to use Dallas Clark (who had emerged in 2009 as one of the most dangerous threats in the league) almost exclusively as a receiver. Eldridge turned out to be a capable blocker and stuck with the Colts for two seasons, playing in 27 games and starting 16. While not a receiving tight end, he still caught 14 passes for 84 yards in two years. His real value came in the blocking game, and it is for that reason that the Chicago Bears gave him another chance after he was released from the Colts before the 2012 season. Most fans won't remember Eldridge, as he was nothing special, but he did provide solid blocking and for a fifth round pick wasn't a bad selection.
GRADE: C +
Round Seven (238)- DT Ricardo Mathews, Cincinnati
While not having a sixth round pick, the Colts did pick three times in the seventh round, the first of which was used on defensive tackle Ricardo Matthews. Matthews has played three years for the Colts, appearing in 36 games (starting 5) and recording 33 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 pass deflections for his career. In 2012, he played in all 16 games and made his only 5 career starts up to this point, notching 13 tackles. Matthews is still on the roster (one of only three from the draft class that is still true of), but his future is rather uncertain. The Colts brought in a lot of defensive lineman this offseason, so Matthews will have work to do to remain on the Colts for a fourth year. Up to this point, however, he has been a solid seventh round selection.
Round Seven (240)- LB Kavell Conner, Clemson
With two picks remaining in the 2010 draft, Bill Polian took a linebacker out of Clemson who led the team in tackles each of his final two seasons there. The Colts used a seventh round pick on Kavell Conner, and the pick turned out to be a home run. His first season, he started 9 games (appearing in 12 total) and made 57 tackles. His next year, in 2011, he started 15 games and played in all 16, recording 104 tackles, and then in 2012 he played in 14 games (starting 12) and made 54 tackles and recorded a sack. In his career he has started 36 games and played in 42, making 215 tackles, 1 sack, and batting down 6 passes. His future is bright, although he will also be competing for playing time with Pat Angerer and Jerrell Freeman, all three of whom are battling for two inside linebacker spots. There is no other way to describe this seventh round pick than to say that it was a great find in the seventh for Bill Polian in an otherwise weak draft.
Round Seven (246)- DB Ray Fisher, Indiana
Bill Polian used his last pick in the 2010 draft to take a kid from Indiana, Ray Fisher. The defensive back was taken with the hope that he could provide on special teams as a kick returner (which he excelled at during his time at IU), but it never worked out. Fisher was released after the 2010 preseason and didn't sign with another NFL team. He currently plays for the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League. The pick didn't turn out, but then again how often does the 246th pick of the draft turn out? Not often.
Overall, the Colts' 2010 draft was not very good. They found two very good linebackers in Pat Angerer (second round) and Kavell Connner (seventh round), but other than that the class is very underwhelming. The failures of the class are highlighted by the failures of the first round draft pick, Jerry Hughes. Even he is gone now - leaving only three players from the eight man class remaining on the Colts. Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner are both very good players and make this draft class look a lot better, but it still wasn't very good overall. Period. Had Bill Polian nailed this draft, he may still be the general manager of the Colts. I'll leave it up to you to decide how much things would be different...
OVERALL GRADE: C -