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Indy and the first rounder

I recently remembered a PFR blog post rating the best drafting teams over a decade (1996 to 2005). Indy of course came out as the best, by far. What really set Indy apart wasn't the late round steals, all good drafting franchises unearth their share of them. It was that they just didn't miss on first rounders. Indy was merely above average in rounds 2-7, but they got more value (over the average production from their draft spot) in the first round than any team got from their entire drafts (despite trading back out of the 1st in 2004). Year after year Indy gets great players in the first round.

Marvin Harrison and Tarik Glenn were the 1st rounders in the stats, but before Polian, here are Polian's first rounders.

Year Player Pick #
All Pros Pro Bowls Yrs Started
1998 Peyton Manning 1 4 9 11
1999 Edgerrin James 4 1 4 9
2000 Rob Morris 28 0 0 4
2001 Reggie Wayne 30 0 3 8
2002 Dwight Freeney 11 2 4 7
2003 Dallas Clark 24 0 0 6
2005 Marlin Jackson 28 0 0 2
2006 Joseph Addai 30 0 1 2
2007 Anthony Gonzalez 32 0 0 1

and if you expand it to "first pick of their draft" you add in

Year Player Pick #
All Pros Pro Bowls Yrs Started
2004 Bob Sanders
44 2 2 2

So that's 9 all pro selections, 23 Pro Bowls, and every first rounder becoming a fixture in the starting lineup. Rob Morris is the closest thing to a first round bust, and he's a late first rounder, who started for 4 seasons, then was phased out because of a scheme change. Morris stayed on as a special teams ace and backup, until 2006 when he helped save the season by replacing Gilbert Gardner. Morris along with Sanders return and McFarland settling in suddenly gave the Colts the defense they needed for the SB run. When it's hard to pick out a best pick (Probably Peyton. He was #1 overall though, what about guys like Wayne, Freeney and Edge who other teams passed on, but Indy grabbed and made great?) and hard to pick a worst (Morris, pending Jackson, Addai and Gonzo's futures?) then you are either doing it very right or very wrong. Indy is clearly doing first round picks very very right. Whoever Indy takes at #27 is very likely to be another fantastic first round pick in the Colts long line of them.

"In Polian we trust" for a reason.