Sounds like a easy question now, but 5 teams got it wrong before Polian picked Wayne with the 30th pick of the draft.
The 2000 Colts took a step back in the wins column to 10, but the 2000 Colts only dropped one spot offensively and improved into the top half of the league on defense (15th). Manning, James and Harrison all turned in Pro Bowl years, the Dilger/Pollard TE combo caught 77 passes for 977 yards and 6 TDs, the O line gave up 20 sacks on 571 pass attempts. The D was mediocre against the pass and bad against the run, with the right side of Chad Bratzke and Ellis Johnson doing most of the pass rushing everything was pretty much the same as 1999 (except free safety Chad Belser had 5 of his 9 career sacks to tie for 2nd on the team).
The last draft filled out the Colts LB corps of the future, Mike Peterson, Rob Morris and
Marcus Washington, but the team still faces the same problems as the year before. No 2nd WR, no back to spell Edge and a defense that lacks many young or top level starters.
The Colts used the 30th, 37th, 91th, 118th, 152nd and 220th picks.
Before the Colts came on the clock at #22 LaDainian Tomlinson, Richard Seymore, Marcus Stroud, Steve Hutchinson, Casey Hampton and Nate Clements were gone.
A second WR seemed like a easy position to address in a class packed with high round picks. 6 receivers were taken in the first round and another 2 followed in the first 5 picks of the 2nd round. 8 of the first 36 picks were WRs. David Terrell, Koren Robinson, Rod Gardner, Santana Moss, Freddie Mitchell, Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson and Quincy Morgan were the 8 early picks. When the Colts came up at #22 Terrell, Robinson, Gardner and Moss were gone. The Colts traded down in the draft from 22 to 30 passing on the chance to draft Freddie Michell (and Deuce McAllister). At #30 they took Reggie Wayne.
Between Reggie Wayne and their 2nd round pick Todd Heap, Drew Brees, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Alge Crumpler and Chad Johnson were drafted.
With their second round pick at #37 the Colts picked Idrees Bashir, Bashir started 4 years at safety beginning as a rookie. He intercepted 5 passes, forced 3 fumbles and recorded 159 tackles in those 4 years. All Pros Kris Jenkins, Matt Light and Steve Smith were taken in the next 54 picks along with Pro Bowlers Kendrell Bell (LB), Aaron Schobel (DE), Chris Chambers (sprinter), Travis Henry (babies daddy), Shaun Rodgers (fat pile of crap), Derrick Burgess (DE) and Adrian Wilson (S).
In the third round the Colts took DB Cory Bird who would start 8 games in his 4 year career recording a pass defensed and a forced fumble in that time. The top players taken before the Colts 4th round pick were, Anthony Henry, Rudi Johnson and Sage Rosenfels.
Ryan Diem was the Colts 4th round pick. Diem would start two years at guard before moving to right tackle where he remains today. Between Diem and the Colts 5th rounder WR Justin McCareins, punter Nick Harris and monstrous blocking TE Brandon Manumaleuna were the only players selected that have topped 90 games played to date (about 13 a year).
The Colts 5th round pick was another defensive back, Raymond Walls. Walls played only 4 games in Indy starting none. He recorded three career starts and was out of the league after 5 years. There were zero Pro Bowlers taken between Walls and the next Colts pick. WR Cedrick Wilson and FB Jameel Cook were the only players to have more than one season as a starter.
The Colts went DB again with similar results with Jason Doering. Doering started 7 games for the Colts recovering one fumble and recording 41 tackles. He ended his career after 4 years without a single interception or pass defensed. T.J. Housmandzadeh was the sole Pro Bowler taken in the next 27 picks.
Indy's last pick was guard Rick DeMulling who started for 3 seasons and appeared in 80 games. The last 26 picks of the draft included TE Eric Johnson (2,178 career receiving yards) and 6 year starter at safety Marlon McCree. Dominic Rhodes was undrafted
1. Reggie Wayne, There's an argument about the best WR in that class, but Chad Johnson has gone from funny attention whore to team cancer and Steve Smith trails Reggie Wayne by a full season's worth of receiving stats (63, 1053, 10) after Smith lost a season of his prime to injury.
2. Adrian Wilson, Wilson is a beast. You love Bob Sanders? Wilson is as close as you'll get in the league. Aggressive, physical, big, safety. He's not an undersized safety, he's an oversized safety at 6'3" 222. Wilson has 16 career sacks, 16 INTs, has forced 11 fumbles and made 436 tackles. You think Sanders should be kept away from linemen, so he can avoid being swallowed by blocks and build steam before hits? Wilson is the size of a LB, he can handle in the box duties. The best safety tandem in the league without using a first round pick? insane. Smith is a hard pass, but with Marvin and Wayne set fixing the D is a much bigger deal than a 3rd WR/KR
3. Anthony Henry, another DB who is much better than anything the 2000 Colts had in their defensive backfield. Henry made an instant impact leading the league in INTs his rookie year despite starting only 2 games.
4. Ryan Diem, a TE the size of a tackle isn't as good as an actual tackle. Diem has been a solid starter for years and the draft is lacking in impact players by this point.
5. Cedrick Wilson, there really wasn't much available late in this draft.
6. T.J. Housmandzadeh, Really the best player of the second day of the draft, by far.
7. Dominic Rhodes, I <3 Dom
Something I noticed: In these first 4 years where are the late round steals? Jeff Saturday and Dom Rhodes were picked up as undrafted rookies, but Hunter Smith and Ryan Diem were the only second day picks that were big, long time contributors. Many of the late rounders washed out pretty quickly like you see looking at most other teams drafts. In 2002 and 2003, David Thornton, Cato June and Robert Mathis all became contributors from the second day. What changed in 2002 and what do those three players have in common?
Tony Dungy took over in 2002 and implemented the Tampa-2. All three of those players are guys that are suited to the Tampa-2. Dungy is a part of the drafting process and deserves a good amount of credit for the Colts ability to find late round steals.