When the Indianapolis Colts hand in their first-round selection on April 26, the hope is obviously that the player will go down in Colts lore. The team has made some pretty bad selections in the first round in recent seasons, and with a pick as high as No. 6 (if they stay there), you’d hope it’s an elite player that they’re getting.
To break up the monotony of “Who will the Colts take at 6?”, I wanted to take a look at the Colts’ last 10 players taken in the first round and rank them against each other.
1. Andrew Luck | 2012 – Pick 1 Overall | Quarterback | Stanford
Colts Career Stats: Started 70-of-70 games, 1,570-for-2,651 passing (59.2%), 19,078 yards, 7.2 YPA, 132 TD, 68 INT, 87.3 passer rating, 63.5 QBR, 286 carries, 1,442 yards (5.0 avg), 14 TD
Pro Bowl: 4x
Colts Tenure: 2012-Present
This one is an obvious layup. Yes, Luck missed a season and a half from 2015-’17, but he has been as good as advertised otherwise.
Considering he was dubbed the next John Elway/Peyton Manning entering the 2012 draft, Luck took a 2-14 team as a rookie and led them to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in three straight years, increasing their depth into the postseason every year. As Luck has gone, so have the Colts. His injuries and recovery have lasted over the last three years, and the Colts have gone 20-28 in that time rather than the 33-15 they went in his first three years. Overall, Luck holds several NFL and Colts franchise records.
Luck has that magical quality about him. He raises the play of everybody around him, even on both sides of the ball. He is expected to return to action in 2018. We’ll see if he is still the same top-notch signal caller we knew before.
2. Anthony Castonzo | 2011 – Pick 22 Overall | Offensive Tackle | Boston College
Colts Career Stats: Started 105-of-105 games
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2011-Present
Having a quality left tackle is an invaluable commodity in the NFL. Though the Colts have had offensive line issues for the whole time they’ve had Castonzo, they haven’t had to worry about him (for the most part). He’s had his poor stretches, but he’s regained his form in the last couple of years, performing at an adequate level as that of a blindside protector.
Pro Football Focus ranked Castonzo as the No. 10 overall offensive tackle in the NFL in 2017 with a grade of 82.0. His career average grade is 79.5, and his average over the last four years is 82.5.
3. Joseph Addai | 2006 – Pick 30 Overall | Running Back | LSU
Colts Career Stats: Started 60-of-78 games, 1,095 carries, 4,453 yards (4.1 avg), 39 TD, 191 receptions, 1,448 yards (7.6 avg), 9 TD
Pro Bowl: 1x
Colts Tenure: 2006-’11
Injuries derailed what at one point appeared to be developing into a fruitful career. Addai saw the bulk of the action in the backfield as a rookie, leading all NFL rookies with 1,081 rushing yards. He also set a then-Super Bowl record for receptions by a running back, as his 10 catches helped the Colts win Super Bowl XLI. Addai followed his rookie season with another 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, that would be the last big season we would see out of him.
Beginning in 2008, Addai’s availability began to dwindle. The aforementioned injuries caused him to miss 17 games from 2008-’11, and he was never able to regain his same form. In fact, he never played again after not being re-signed by the Colts.
4. Donald Brown | 2009 – Pick 27 Overall | Running Back | UConn
Colts Career Stats: Started 20-of-66 games, 551 carries, 2,377 yards (4.3 avg), 17 TD, 83 receptions, 767 yards (9.2 avg), 2 TD
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2009-’13
Brown was a punching bag early in his Colts career for not living up to his first-round status — also because Manning roasted him in the middle of a play. While he never did live up to that status, he did carve-out a nice role in the Colts’ offense. He was always a big play waiting to happen, but injuries and inconsistency at running between the tackles always led to someone else gaining the starting running back spot.
5. Ryan Kelly | 2016 – Pick 18 Overall | Center | Alabama
Colts Career Stats: Started 23-of-23 games
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2006-Present
The jury is still out on Kelly, but so far, so good for the most part. He missed half of his second season following foot surgery as well as a concussion. However, he has been solid and dependable while on the field. When a center is taken in the first round of the draft, more often than not they turn out to be a Pro-Bowler. If Kelly can string some healthy seasons together, there’s no reason to think he can’t get there.
6. Malik Hooker | 2017 – Pick 15 Overall | Safety | Ohio State
Colts Career Stats: Started 6-of-7 games, 22 tackles, 3 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, this stiff-arm
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2017-Present
Hooker has been with the Colts for even less time than Kelly, getting picked with the Colts’ top selection last year. Hooker got off to a slow start in training camp and the preseason as he recovered from offseason surgery and then dealt with a hamstring pull. However, he was ready to start come Week 2 of the regular season and came down with an interception in each of his first three starts. Considering he was the most reputable ballhawk in the draft, he did exactly what the Colts brought him in to do. Unfortunately, a blind-side block in Week 7 caused Hooker to tear an ACL and cost him the remainder of his rookie season.
7. Jerry Hughes | 2010 – Pick 31 Overall | Edge Defender | TCU
Colts Career Stats: Started 7-of-40 games, 62 tackles (4 TFL), 5.0 sacks, 1 pass breakup
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2010-’12
Naturally, Hughes turned into a terror for opposing offenses when he left Indianapolis. Still, it was just never a great fit. There was a lot of pressure on him because the logic was the Colts drafted him to be the long-term replacement for Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
Hughes only had 5.0 sacks in his three seasons in Indianapolis and promptly had 19.5 combined in the next two seasons alone with the Buffalo Bills. Former Bills head coach Rex Ryan once said that Hughes was ruining practice because he was dominating the offense so badly.
8. Anthony Gonzalez | 2007 – Pick 32 Overall | Wide Receiver | Ohio State
Colts Career Stats: Started 12-of-40 games, 99 receptions (141 targets), 1,307 yards (13.2 avg), 7 TD
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2007-’11
There is a lot of “what if?” attached to this pick. No. 32 was probably too soon to pick-up a slot receiver, but Gonzalez was on his way to being a really good player before injuries also wrecked his career. In his first two seasons, he caught 94-of-130 targets for 1,240 yards and 7 touchdowns. If Manning throws to a player that young that many times, there’s a good reason for it.
Unfortunately, Gonzalez suffered season-ending knee injuries in both 2009 and 2010, then was completely left out of the offense in 2011. Like Addai, Gonzalez did not play again following his time in Indianapolis.
9. Phillip Dorsett | 2015 – Pick 29 Overall | Wide Receiver | Miami (FL)
Colts Career Stats: Started 7-of-26 games, 51 receptions (98 targets), 753 yards (14.8 avg), 3 TD
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2015-’16
It was never Dorsett’s fault that former general manager Ryan Grigson selected him in the first round ahead of way more important players, but it never got easy for Dorsett in Indianapolis. He missed a good chunk of his rookie season after fracturing his leg and dealt with other small, nagging injuries the rest of the time. After following up his rookie season with an equally underwhelming sophomore campaign, the Colts traded Dorsett to the New England Patriots in exchange for quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who started in place of the injured Luck in 2017.
Dorsett is the fourth player on this list to spend time with the Patriots after the Colts (Addai, Gonzalez, Brown).
10. Bjoern Werner | 2013 – Pick 24 Overall | Edge Defender | Florida State
Colts Career Stats: Started 16-of-38 games, 81 tackles (11 TFL), 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumbles recovered, 5 pass breakups
Pro Bowl: 0x
Colts Tenure: 2013-’15
Werner’s career with the Colts really never got off the ground. There may have been chronic knee issues that weren’t really mentioned at the time, but he never came close to reaching his potential. Werner never became a pass-rushing threat, instead becoming a decent run defender. Trying to make him the JACK linebacker in the Colts’ then-3-4 defense was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Werner announced his retirement in 2017 after ongoing issues from his injuries.
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