Draft Rewind – Indianapolis Colts

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With NFL training camps in full gear, we continue to take a look back at each team’s hits and misses over the past 25 years.

FIVE BEST PICKS

1. Reggie Wayne, WR, Miami. 1st round, #30 overall in 2001. 

Durability and consistency were the hallmarks of Wayne’s impressive tenure in Indy. During the ten years from 2003 to 20012, he didn’t miss a game and averaged 89 – 1,200 – 7. In contrast to the annoying diva WRs of his time, Wayne was a quiet and humble star. Notable appearances on career leader boards for the future Hall of Famer: seventh in receptions, eighth in yards, and second only to Jerry Rice in playoff catches. Of the 29 players drafted before him, only LaDanian Tomlinson had a better career.

2. Robert Mathis, DE, Alabama A & M. 5th round, #138 overall in 2003.

Mathis has been one of the best pass-rushers of his era, averaging about ten sacks a season over his 12 year career with the Colts. The 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is incredibly popular among the team’s fan base, and 2016 will likely be his swan song. He is among the best players from the 2003 draft, and has returned value commensurate of a top-10 pick. Not bad for a Division II player picked in round five.

3. Marvin Harrison, WR, Syracuse. 1st round, #19 overall in 1996.

Harrison owns or shares an astonishing 36 NFL records, and will be enshrined in Canton next week. The consummate possession receiver, he remained relatively healthy for a guy that took a lot of pounding at 175 lbs. The three WR drafted before him were all disappointments: Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Eddie Kennison. It should be mentioned that although Harrison was a model player known for his professionalism during his career, he has been involved in several serious gun-related incidents since his retirement.

4. Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee. 1st round, #1 overall in 1998.

It probably goes without saying, but when you draft a QB #1 overall, you expect (hope?) the return will be 8 – 10 years of Pro-Bowl caliber play. For all his postseason warts, and there are many, Frankenstein is probably the greatest regular season QB ever. His teams won at least ten games 14 of his 16 years in the league, and he owns or shares 54 regular season records. This is a great pick in part because the Colts didn’t take Ryan Leaf.

5. Antoine Bethea, S, Howard. 6th round, #207 overall in 2006.

The Colts grabbed Bethea late in the 6th round, and he was a starter and versatile safety for them all eight of his years in Indy. His rookie year, he teamed with Bob Sanders as the Colts featured one of the best pass defenses in the league in route to a Super Bowl win. His play in the postseason that year, which included two interceptions, allowed Indy to move on from Mike Doss.

 

FIVE WORST PICKS

1. Steve Emtman, DE, Washington. 1st round, #1 overall in 1992.

The Colts were victims of bad luck, as Emtman was constantly getting hurt. Injuries limited him to 18 games in three years before Indy cut ties. In college Emtman enjoyed an outstanding junior year at Washington, winning numerous awards and a National Championship (and later, an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame). He was actually having a good rookie season before he shredded his knee in his 9th game. To the Colts credit, the ’92 draft was collectively garbage; zero Hall of Famers and very few All-Pros.

2. Trev Alberts, LB, Nebraska. 1st round, #5 overall in 1994.

First the good news: the Colts drafted All-World back Marshall Faulk at #2 overall in 1994 (although they would later dump him trade him to St. Louis where he immediately won the Super Bowl and Offensive Player of the Year). Bad news: They wasted their other early pick on Alberts, who was mostly a disinterested dog of an NFL player. He quit the game after three years of mediocre spot duty, and has since impressed as a studio analyst. Now an AD at Nebraska-Omaha, he also possesses a distinguished first name.

3. Quentin Coryatt, LB, Texas A&M. 1st round, #2 overall in 1992.

1992 was not a great year to be drafting multiple times in the top 5. Coryatt was a pedestrian LB for six years with the Colts (four as a starter), and probably should have been drafted in the 5th round. Amazingly, Indy matched Jacksonville’s $17.5 million RFA offer sheet in 1995 and brought him back. Predictably, he continued to play terribly when he wasn’t hurt and was out of the league in two years. A comeback with Cowboys in ’99 stalled when they came to the realization that he was still rubbish.

4. Jeff George, QB, Illinois. 1st round, #1  overall in 1990.

As stated earlier, when drafting a QB #1, the expectations are that you should get at least good QB play for 8 or more years. Unfortunately for the Colts (and the other four teams he played for), George was the epitome of the phrase “million dollar arm…10 cent head”. The 1990 draft is a good example that the best rated QB isn’t necessarily the best prospect (or for that matter the second rated either – Andre Ware). Scouts were enamored with George’s big arm and gunslinger reputation, and Indy traded for him two days before the draft (for a 5th, a 1st in ’91, Chris Hinton, and Andre Rison – ouch). Upon signing his rookie contract, George became the 3rd highest-paid QB ahead of three guys named Marino, Montana, and Elway. His career was marked by limited moments of brilliance mixed in with petulance, a lack of leadership ability, and selfishness.

5. Shane Curry, DE, Miami. 2nd round, #40 overall in 1991.

The U was cranking out defensive talent in the late 80s – early 90s, so with their first pick in the ’91 draft, the Colts drafted Curry (who had a whopping 13 tackles for loss in three years with the Hurricanes). His rookie year, he struggled to get off the bench and appeared in only eight games. In May of ’92, 13 months after being drafted, Curry was fatally shot outside of a night club.

Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com

 

 

 

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