For me, the 2007 NFL Draft has been the worst in Bill Polian's tenure as Colts President.
Now, when applying the "Polian standard" to other teams in the NFL, a "bad" Polian draft would be a "dancing in the streets" type of draft for many other teams. I mean, if Chicago's Jerry Angelo had the kind of 2007 draft that Bill Polian had, his team would likely have made the playoffs sometime between 2007 and 2009. Instead, Angelo was seemingly fleeced on the Eric Weddle deal, and only got under-used tight end Greg Olson out of the 2007 Draft. Because their roster lacks young talent, the Bears have had to turn to high-priced free agents (and big name trades) to put some punch in their team. 2010 is a make-or-break year for Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith.
But, the problem with being "Polian good" is you are often held to a higher standard than everyone else. Since the organization relies more on the draft than most other teams, the '07 Draft is one of the few dents in the Colts President's impeccable draft resume.
Recently, USA Today offered their grades on the 2007 NFL Draft. After the jump, check out how the Colts scored.
While not looking like dunces, like the Denver Broncos, or completely failing the grade, like the Miami Dolphins, the Colts received a mediocre "C" grade for the players they acquired in the 2007 Draft:
WR Anthony Gonzalez (1st) had worked his way up to a starting job in 2009, but a knee injury cost him the season. Demoted OT Tony Ugoh (2nd) hasn't justified the 2008 first-round pick team President Bill Polian paid to get him. LB Clint Session (4th) and DT Keyunta Dawson (7th) have been steady contributors.
Just to put this grade into perspective, Matt Millen's Detroit Lions draft haul that year scored a "C-". This means Bill Polian did only slightly better than Matt friggin Millen in 2007. It's worth noting that article author Nate Davis admitted that his assessment of Millen's '07 draft "feels a bit generous."
For me, the best player taken in the 2007 Draft for the Colts was Clint Session. He's not an All-Pro linebacker, but he is a solid starter and offers more at the position than Freddy Keiaho or Cato June ever did. Davis makes no mention of the third round disappointments named Dante Hughes and Quinn Pitcock.
And to call Keyunta Dawson "steady" also sounds a bit "generous." Dawson is a decent back-up who offers versatility. However, when he was a full-time start at DT in 2008, the Colts surrendered 1966 rushing yards and 18 rushing TDs. Dawson started 14 games in 2008 and had only 21 tackles and zero sacks. He lost his job to Daniel Muir last off-season. Muir provided 43 tackles at DT, and a half-a-sack in 2009.
Also, as we noted recently, Dawson does not stand a strong chance of retaining a roster spot on this Colts team in 2010. With Tony Ugoh likely demoted and Anthony Gonzalez likely the team's fourth wide receiver, this means that the 2010 roster could retain only three players from the 2007 Draft haul. Only Session would be a starter, and he was a 4th round pick.
Of the 2007 rookie class, it seems that the undrafted Melvin Bullitt was the best of the bunch, but like many others in that '07 class, he too has lost his starting job. Though, in Bullitt's case, it is not because he under-performed. Bullitt has played extensively over the years because of numerous injuries to All-Pro safety Bob Sanders. Sanders is, supposedly, healthy to start 2010. Thus, Bullitt is a reserve again.