My motto has always been that I have sacred symbols, cows, or prophets. I call a spade a spade when I see it. Now we all greatly respect Bill Polian. He wrote the book on how to build a team in the modern NFL. Every successful team copies on the techniques that Bill Polian authored.
Now these techniques have made the Colts into one of the elite teams in the NFL. It was a foundation built upon having very good drafts year in and year out. However, I think we are starting to see that Polian is only human after all. I am not writing this to suggest that Polian "sucks" but rather to point out that many of the problems we currently face are directly the result of recent draft years which are sub-par. They aren't necessarily bad drafts they just don't live up to what I would call the "Polian Standard."
I think the best way to go about this is to look at previous drafts starting in 2001 up until 2008. Obviously, the 2008 draft class will not be viewed quite as harshly because the jury is still out on them. However, it's fairly clear to see that the current drafts classes are not living up to the pass draft classes so let's take a look and see.
2001 draft: Grade A+
1. Reggie Wayne- Reggie is one of the best
2. Idrees Bashir- a decent starter, but we traded up to get him. A bit of a disappointment.
3. Cory Bird- was promising, but had too many injuries.
4. Ryan Diem- long time starter for the Colts. Good pick!
5. Raymond Walls- Who?
6. Jason Doering- Poor safety, but solid special teams player.
7. Rick DeMulling- I loved DeMulling back in the day. A very powerful and explosive guard
2002 draft: A+
1. Dwight Freeney- Need I say more?
2. Larry Tripplett- not a great player, but certainly an effective one.
3. Joseph Jefferson- injuries and failure. Standard Polian 3rd round.
4. David Thornton- probably the best LB Polian ever drafted for Indy.
5. David Pugh- only played one season for Indy.
6. James Lewis- Who?
7. Brian Allen- injuries cut his career short sadly.
8. Josh Mallary- believe only played one season for Indy.
2003 draft: A
1. Dallas Clark- currently one of the best TE in the league
2. Mike Doss- struggled at times, but was solid at other points.
3. Donald Strickland- attitude problems hurt him
4. Steve Scullio- I really hoped he would be good but he struggled and only played for one season
5. Robert Mathis- a steal at this pick!
6. Keyon Whiteside- total bust
7. Cato June- great value here!
8. Makoa Freitas- played well in 2003 when Tarik Glenn got hurt. Sadly injuries ended his career.
2004 draft: B
1. Bob Sanders- he gets hurt too much but helped the Colts immensely in 2006.
2. Ben Hartstock- this didnt work out but Hartstock is still in the league.
3. Gilbert Gardner- he sucked and played for Purdue. Need I say more?
4. Kendyll Pope- Never played
5. Jason David- I always liked him a lot. Good pick here.
6. Jake Scott- again another solid pick here. Great value.
7. Von Hutchins- did okay for the Colts and has stayed in the league for awhile
8. Jim Sorgi- the myth and the legend himself
2005 draft: B+
1. Marlin Jackson: again, Polian usually rocks with the 1st round.
2. Kelvin Hayden- a project player that developed very nicely.
3. Vincent Burns- got tasered by the police.
4. Dylan Gandy- played well for a few years then disappeared.
5. Matt Giordano- still players for the Colts and is great on special teams.
6. Robert Hunt- who?
7. Tyjuan Hagler- good size and speed for a LB and still plays for the Colts.
2006 draft: C+
1. Joe Addai- I am not always easy on Addai, but its still a good pick because what he did his rookie year.
2. Tim Jennings- I am so... "meh" about Jennings
3. Freddie Keiaho- just... disappointed.
4. Michael Toudouze- someone I always liked, but just recently got cut.
5. Charlie Johnson- why is this guy starting at LT?
6. Antoine Bethea- anytime you got a pro bowler in round 6 that is awesome.
7. TJ Rusing- ok special teams player
2007 draft: D+
1. Anthony Gonzalez- Gonzo is good. We all agree on that.
2. Tony Ugoh- much like Keiaho... just disappointed. Ugoh just doesn't have the power to play in the NFL.
3. Dante Hughes- just got cut!
4. Quinn Pitcock- we all know this one...
5. Brannon Condren- never did anything
6. Clint Session- thus far a good, but not great player
7. Michael Coe- didn't do anything. Now cut.
8. Keyunta Dawson- jury is still out here.
2008 draft: C (for now)
1. Mike Pollak- struggled mightly in his rookie year. Has a lot to prove.
2. Phillip Wheeler- just now starting. Seems to be a good pick.
3. Jacob Tamme- just now starting to get some playing time.
4. Tom Santi- jury still out
5. Steve Justice- just got cut!
6. Mike Hart- injured then got cut.
7. Pierre Garcon- really good pick here late in the draft.
8. Jamey Richard- jury still out.
So as you can see the Colts had a series of really good draft picks early on that formed the foundation of our Super Bowl team in 2006. Lately, however, and the team has struggled with its drafts, which is starting to affect the O-line in particular.
This just goes to show you how even a few below average drafts can affect the most talented teams like the Colts. I personally think there will be O-Line issues throughout this year that will hopefully be addressed in the off season, but hopefully I am wrong.
Right now the Colts need to start hitting some drafts out of the park like they did in 2001. That would quickly solve a lot of problems.