After eight years of Colts mock drafts, my picks look pretty good

Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Stampede Blue's Brad Wells looks back at eight years of Colts mock drafts and how they match-up with the picks the team actually made from 2006-2013.

For eight years, I've participated in SB Nation's NFL Writers Mock Draft. It's a fun, communal experience that provides a broad outline of how 32 separate fanbases feel about their respective team's needs in the actual NFL Draft. For fun, I decided to dig into the archives and see just how accurate my selections were. To be honest, I was kind of scared to see how far off base my picks were compared to what actually happened in the drafts between 2006-2013.

To my surprise, I was right more often than I was wrong.

2006

Mock Draft rounds: 1

Colts pick that year: No. 30 overall

Selection:

Joseph Addai, RB, LSU

That's right! My very first mock draft for SB Nation and I picked the dude that the Colts took in the real draft that year. My logic behind the pick was the same as then-team president Bill Polian's was. Edgerrin James had left via free agency and the Colts could not afford to saddle Dominic Rhodes will the full rushing load. Addai was a solid runner out of LSU, a very good receiver, and a fantastic blocker. Addai averaged 4.8 yards-per-carry his rookie season. He lasted six years in the NFL before injuries forced him to retire in 2012.

Totally objective draft grade: A

Side Note: The Bears blogger at that time gave me a bit of playful grief over this pick. I returned the favor in 2007, when Addai ran for 77 yards on 19 carries in the Colts' victory over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

2007

Mock Draft rounds: 1

Colts pick that year: No. 32 overall

Selection:

Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee

Ooof! This was a bad one. Even re-reading my draft justification makes me cringe. Harrell's frame (6'5, 300 lbs) suggested to me he'd be ideal for the Colts' 4-3 defensive front. With Corey Simon dealing with polyarthritis and Anthony McFarland near the end of his career, I thought the team needed to invest in a young DT. The position was critical for Dungy's scheme to work. The Packers ended up taking Harrell with the 16th overall pick in the real draft, and he was a big bust. He lasted just three seasons and starting only two games.

Totally objective draft grade: F

Side note: Just like current Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, my first draft was an ace and my follow-up draft was a duck.

2008

Mock Draft rounds: 2

Colts pick that year: No first round pick, No. 59 overall

Selection:

Matt Forte, RB, Tulane

By 2008, we'd expanded the mock to two rounds. However, with no first round pick for the Colts in 2008 - which was traded in 2007 so that the Colts could take eventual bust Tony Ugoh out of Arkansas - us chuckleheads in the Stampede Blue war room simply went with the guy we thought was most talented in Round Two. Forte was ideally suited for the Colts' offense, and he would have been a great compliment to Addai. The Colts employed this same strategy in 2009 when they drafted UConn back Donald Brown. The difference is Brown sucked for most of his NFL career while Forte - who was drafted by the Bears at No. 44 overall - has rushed for 6,666 yards and scored 47 total touchdowns in his impressive six-year career.

Totally objective draft grade: A

Side note: Before he wrote for Bleacher Report, draft guru Matt Miller was the head scribe at MockingTheDraft.com, SB Nation's draft site. He graded me a "B" for taking Forte, saying players like Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles were better options.

2009

Mock Draft rounds: 2

Colts picks that year: No. 27 overall, No. 61 overall

Selections:

Evander Hood, DT, Missouri- No. 27 overall

Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State- No. 61 overall

This mock was interesting. SB Nation had completed the first round selections only to have the Denver Broncos swing a major trade with the Chicago Bears just prior to the actual draft, sending Jay Cutler to Chicago. When this happened, it totally changed the complexion of the first round and forced us to re-do the selections. It's a shame because, prior to the Cutler trade, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez fell all the way to No. 27... and yes, I took him.

Naturally, all Colts fans on the Internets blasted me for the pick. Short-sighted fools, all of them!

I took Sanchez because Peyton Manning was then at age 33. The Colts had taken an interest in Sanchez, working him out prior to the draft. It just made sense that if a talented, young QB was to fall like that, the Colts would take him ala how the Packers scooped up Aaron Rodgers in the late-first round in 2005.

When we did the re-draft, Sanchez went early and I selected Evander "Ziggy" Hood. He's been nothing special in the real NFL, and Derrick Williams was out of the league after just two seasons. I thought highly of Williams in 2009. Not a good draft for me. Not at all.

Totally objective draft grade: D

Side note: Imagine how different the NFL would be today if my Sanchez scenario had happened. Manning would still have missed the 2011 season with his neck injury, but instead of Curtis Painter fumbling the Colts to a 2-14 record, it would have been a third-year veteran in Sanchez quarterbacking the Colts! This after two seasons holding a clipboard and absorbing all the knowledge Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore could provide. Sanchez could have developed into a good player! If you'll recall, he was a pretty solid young QB his first two years in the league prior to Tony Sporano ruining whatever potential he had left in 2012. Of course, if Sanchez had played well for this imaginary Colts team in 2011, they wouldn't have been able to draft Andrew Luck in 2013.

2010

Mock Draft rounds: 2

Colts picks that year: No. 31 overall, No. 63 overall

Selections:

Charles Brown, OT, USC- No. 31 overall

Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse- No. 63 overall

Hey look! I'm a psychic! I predicted Arthur Jones to the Colts a full four years before they'd eventually add him as an unrestricted free agent for $15 million in guaranteed money. Though Jones was signed this season to play DE in a 3-4, he'd have translated well as a 4-3 DT in Indy's Tampa-2 scheme. Jones was drafted by the Ravens in the 5th round in 2010 and developed into a starter by 2012, the year Baltimore won their second Super Bowl.

Regarding Charles Brown, I still hold fast on that pick! Back in 2010, readers blasted it. "We have Tony Ugoh." "We have Charlie Johnson." "Left tackle isn't a need." Johnson was a nice utility player. Not a starter. Ugoh was just bad. Fans back then didn't want to face that, but it was the truth. The left tackle position needed to be addressed, and Brown was the best option at that pick. He was a bust for the first three years in the league after being drafted by the Saints with the 64th overall pick. In 2013, he started 14 games, but played poorly. He's a free agent now and his career in the NFL is in doubt. I passed on Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate to take Brown. I really wanted Devin McCourty at No. 31, but he was taken the pick before by the Vikings.

Totally objective draft grade: B

Side Note: The Colts took defensive end Jerry Hughes at pick No. 31 and linebacker Pat Angerer at No. 63. Hughes was a bust in Indianapolis for three years before finally proving he wasn't a waste with the Bills last season. Angerer was an injury-prone disappointment whose NFL career is currently in limbo. So, overall, I drafted better than the Polians. Brown wasn't great, but Jones would've been a great pick at 63.

2011

Mock Draft rounds: 2

Selections: No. 22 overall, No. 53 overall

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College- No. 22 overall

Quinton Carter, SS, Oklahoma- No. 53 overall

Once again, I saw left tackle as a big position of need. Once again, I drafted the best tackle at that position, and, just like with 2006, my guess in the fake draft was what happened in the real one. Castonzo has developed into an "OK" left tackle. Nothing great, but nothing truly horrible. At the end of the day, you'd rather have that then Tony Ugoh.

The Carter pick was an attempt to replace Bob Sanders. The Tampa-2 scheme relied on strong safety play and, to be honest, I was just tried of drafting DTs. Carter was taken in the 4th round in 2011 by the Broncos. He started 10 games that year, but hasn't developed into a consistently good player.

Totally objective draft grade: B

Side note: In the real draft that year, the Colts traded up in the second round to select Villanova tackle Ben Ijalana. Ijalana turned into yet another bust for the Polians, as injuries prevented him from developing into a quality player in Indianapolis. Had the Colts not traded up, players like Torrey Smith, Justin Houston, and Randall Cobb would have been available at pick No. 53. Busted drafts, like this one, were one of many reasons why Bill Polian and his son, Chris Polian, were fired after the 2011 season. The Colts went 2-14 that year and earned the No. 1 overall pick. Ryan Grigson was hired as the new general manager, and, shortly after his hiring, head coach Jim Caldwell was fired.

2012

Mock Draft rounds: 2

Colts picks that year: No. 1 overall, No. 34 overall

Selections:

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford- No. 1 overall

Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford- No. 34 overall

KA-BOOM! Both picks nailed by Nostradamus Wells! Obviously, Luck was going to go No. 1 overall, but the Fleener pick was tricky. I liked Brandon Thompson of Clemson, and I figured that, if the 2013 Colts were going to roll with a new, defensive-oriented coach in Chuck Pagano, then they needed to invest a high pick on that side of the ball.

But, as I said in my mock draft write-up back then, "Fleener has the potential to be a dominant offensive player in the NFL." Two years later, Fleener isn't close to dominant, but he doesn't suck either. He's just OK. I can live with that.

Totally objective draft grade: A+

Side note: In the actual draft, corner Janoris Jenkins was still on the board at No. 34. In the mock, he went earlier than Fleener. In hindsight, drafting Jenkins over Fleener would have been the better move, and had Jenkins been there at No. 33 for me, I'd have gone that route. Jenkins is a shutdown corner while Fleener is an OK tight end who can't block.

2013

Mock Draft rounds: 2

Colts picks that year: No.24 overall, no second round selection

Selections:

Datone Jones, DE, UCLA- No. 24 overall

After a 2012 draft that saw general manager Ryan Grigson load-up on offensive players, I felt the Colts needed to go heavy with defense in 2013, especially considering that they didn't have a second round pick. That selection was traded in August 2013 for Dolphins corner Vontae Davis. Had Grigson selected Jenkins at No. 34 in 2012 over Fleener, they wouldn't have needed to trade for Davis. But, what's done was done, and for this draft I had just one pick. Both Stampede Blue editor Matt Grecco and I loved Datone Jones, and we felt that he'd be able to add some pass rushing chops to the d-line. Jones was eventually taken by the Green Bay Packers at pick No. 26 overall. Jones had 3.5 sacks in 2013, but did not earn a starting spot on GB's d-line.

The Colts ended up selecting Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner with the 24th overall pick. He had 2.5 sacks in 2013, but started in just one game.

Totally objective draft grade: B

Side note: In our mock last year, Werner was off the board by pick No. 24. I probably still would have gone with Jones.

Conclusion

Overall, I've got a pretty damn good draft record! Only one true bust (Harrell), a few very solids picks (Castonzo, Jones, Addai), and more than a few excellent ones (Luck, Forte, Arthur Jones). More importantly, I guessed right on four of eleven potential Colts picks, which is a very high percentage. But, don't take that from me. Listen to a former NFL agent who used to negotiate contracts with Bill Polian:

At the end of the day, this is all just guess work, and in more than a few places I simply got lucky with a pick, or my selection was so obvious that it would have been stupid to even consider an alternative. Example: Andrew Luck.

Still, if I were G.M. of the Colts today, my core selections of Matt Forte, Arthur Jones, Anthony Castonzo, Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, and Datone Jones would still be on the roster. Also, when you compare my first and second round selections to those made by Bill and Chris Polian, mine are better. I had just one true "bust" with Harrell while the Polians had several from 2007-2011.

SUCK IT, BILL!

To be fair, lots of things factor into whether or not a draft pick is a success or not. Ultimately, Bill Polian was fired because he (once again) couldn't stop acting like a horse's ass and the team owner just got tired of him.

I guess the point of all this is to show how the draft is, in many ways, a crap shoot. However, the other side of this could be argued that, at the end of the day, some fans might now about as much about who to take in the draft as some of these supposed "experts" who run NFL front offices do.

Oh, and in case you care, I have the Colts taking Utah corner Keith McGill with pick No. 59 in the 2014 NFL Draft. We'll see if I can get my 5th correct selection this year.

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