With draft season now upon us and plenty of conversation going on about the 2016 NFL Draft, Pro Football Focus' Rob Hamilton recently decided to review the draft classes from six years ago in the 2010 NFL Draft.
It's safe to say that it wasn't a very good draft for Bill and Chris Polian, and PFF's grades reflect that. In fact, the Colts received a cumulative grade of -86.4 for their 2010 draft class, with only the Jacksonville Jaguars (-94.3) and the Chicago Bears (-96.0) receiving worse grades. In case you forgot, here's the Colts' 2010 draft class:
1 - Jerry Hughes, DE
2 - Pat Angerer, LB
3 - Kevin Thomas, CB
4 - Jaques McClendon, G
5 - Brody Eldridge, TE
7 - Ricardo Matthews, DT
7 - Kavell Conner, LB
7 - Ray Fisher, DB
That's not a very inspiring group, and PFF notes that. It is interesting, however, to see what they consider to be the best and the worst picks from that class.
Cumulative grade (eight picks): -86.4
Best pick: DE Jerry Hughes (round 1, pick 31, -10.5 cumulative grade)
Indianapolis did not have one positively-graded player from their 2010 draft class. Hughes developed into a one-dimensional pass rusher with the Colts before being traded to Buffalo and blossoming into an upper-echelon edge defender since.
Worst pick: LB Pat Angerer (round 2, pick 63, -33.2 cumulative grade)
Angerer consistently posted negative PFF grades, notably in run defense.
That's right, Jerry Hughes is PFF's highest-graded player from the Colts' 2010 Draft class - and it's important to note that this is only from his time with the Colts, not from his time in Buffalo (which has been much, much better). You could look at this one of either two ways: this either means that PFF got it wrong (because we all know that Hughes stunk in Indy) or it means that the Colts' 2010 class was really, really bad.
We certainly know that the Colts' 2010 draft was bad, but was it bad enough to warrant Hughes being the best player from that class? And was Pat Angerer, who produced more than anyone else from that class, really the worst pick? Here is where we see that PFF's metrics can't give the entire picture to judge a draft class. Angerer played in 54 games with the Colts and was a productive contributor, whereas other guys - like Ray Fisher, for example - never played a game with the Colts. Was Angerer a worse pick than Fisher? Of course not! So we see that PFF's grades can't account for everything when evaluating a draft.
Nonetheless, let's move on to our previous question: was Jerry Hughes really the Colts' best player from that draft class? Keep in mind that Hughes played in 40 games (starting seven) with the Colts and managed just 62 tackles, five sacks, and a pass defensed. If we're taking Hughes' production with the Bills into account, then he clearly has had the best career of any of these picks, but PFF is focusing only on the player's tenure with the team that drafted him (which is the right thing to do). Pat Angerer, on the other hand, played in 54 games with the Colts and started 39 of them, recording 327 tackles, 2.5 sacks, eight passes defensed, two interceptions, and four forced fumbles. During the 2011 season, Angerer started all 16 games and recorded a team-leading 148 tackles. I'm not arguing that Angerer was great, but he absolutely was more productive and helped the team more than Jerry Hughes did. Though I think PFF's grades of the individual picks have a lot of shortcomings, the grades are ultimately just an interesting discussion point and help us again remember just how bad the Colts' 2010 draft class was.