Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Death of Reason: Bill Polian hands reins over to Chris Polian

The day I have always dreaded has arrived.  Bill Polian has officially handed control of the Colts to Chris Polian.

As I detailed in the article "Should Peyton Manning re-sign with the Colts?", I feel that the Colts lack of production in recent drafts may be due to Chris Polian's increasing role in the decision making process.

Chris Polian was elevated to Assistant General Manager in 2004, and in the drafts from 2005 - 2010 I count only two solid players picked in the first three rounds (Kelvin Hayden 2005 & Jerraud Powers 2009).  These two are not stars - just solid players.  The first three rounds is where you draft your stars.

Thats three out of eighteen picks that the Colts have hit on in a five year period.

The breakdown:

1 (29)             Marlin Jackson (CB)          -INJURY BUST
2 (60)             Kelvin Hayden (CB)          -SOLID PLAYER
3 (92)             Vincent Burns (DE)           -BUST
Marlin was solid before he blew up his knee - you could argue that this was an additional successful pick.

1 (30)             Joseph Addai (RB)          -BUST
2 (62)             Tim Jennings (CB)          -BUST
3 (94)             Freddie Keiaho (OLB)    -BUST
Addai is a total bust.  Fans like to point out his blocking and such - but you don't need to burn a 1st rounder on a RB whose best quality is pass blocking.  Jennings was simply not a fit for a cover-two defense because of his size.

1 (32)             Anthony Gonzalez (WR)     -BUST
2 (42)             Tony Ugoh (LT)                 -BUST
3 (95)             Daymeion Hughes (CB)      -BUST
3 (98)             Quinn Pitcock (DT)            -BUST
Gonzalez has not shown the ability to stay healthy, and he has also not shown a real connection to Manning.  They will cut him if he cannot produce this year.  The Ugoh trade was reportedly something that Chris Polian fought for - complete bust on lack of heart.

2 (59)             Mike Pollak (C)                 -BUST
3 (93)             Phillip Wheeler (OLB)        
Pollak lacks the basic talent to compete at this level.  Simply not strong enough.  Wheeler showed something last year and may end up a solid player.

1 (27)             Donald Brown (RB)          
2 (56)             Fili Moala (DT)
3 (92)             Jerraud Powers (CB)
To me, the jury is still out on Donald Brown.  He has been hurt a bit, but has shown some flashes when blocked for.  Moala started to show something last year and may yet end up as a solid player.  This could actually become a good draft - it is a little early to tell.

1 (31)             Jerry Hughes (DE)
2 (63)             Pat Angerer (MLB)
3 (94)             Kevin Thomas (CB)
Angerer looked OK at times last year, the other two got very little playing time.

What about the prior years?  Here are our first picks of each draft from 1998-2004.  See if you notice a different trend:

1998              Peyton Manning
1999              Edgerrin James
2000              Rob Morris
2001              Reggie Wayne
2002              Dwight Freeney
2003              Dallas Clark
2004              Bob Sanders

I sense a trend - don't you?  With the exception of Rob Morris, every one of these players is a star and one of the top ten at their position in the NFL.

Since 2005 we have not drafted a single player who could be called a "star" with a straight face.  Even if you don't agree with me calling Addai or Gonzalez a bust - you would not say they were a star - right?

So where is all this headed?  The Colts will get weaker and weaker over the next few years.  Manning will cover up a lot of issues, but one year he will be either injured or just overcome with the lack of talent and we will fall hard.

The kind of trend I am seeing is Matt Millen-ish and it makes me very worried about the future.

Here is a follow-up article:  

Yes, Chris Polian is *that* Bad


  1. I more or less agree with your analysis of the Colts' recent drafts. Except I wouldn't call Adai a bust: he runs hard inside, has pretty good vision, does well catching passes from the backfield, and is invaluable in pass protection. Do the Colts get first round value out of him? Probably not. But is he a bust? I think that is a stretch.

    However, I think it's fair to say that the 2009 and 2010 first-rounders are busts (Brown and Hughes). Those are huge misses. Brown brings nothing that Adai didn't offer, and is a big down-grade in pass protection.

    I also think it is a bit unfair to include the 1998 and 1999 picks (Manning and Edge) in your analysis. Those were both top-5 overall picks (Manning #1, Edge #4). Indy's draft position after those years was typically very late-round. So, obviously, in '98 and '99, the Colts had a deeper pool of talent from which to find impact players.

    But I generally agree with your hypothesis that Indy's draft performance has been going downhill. Because the franchise's formula relies on the draft and not free-agency, these misses in the draft have caused the decline we've seen in the past couple seasons. I think 2011 was a pretty good draft, though, but time will tell.

  2. I don't like calling players who "fail" in the NFL due to injuries as a "Bust". When I give a bust designation to a player, it is a comment on the people doing the drafting; not the player.

    My reasoning on Addai is that what he gives us would have been available at a MUCH lower pick. On top of that he is injured all the time - which does not help.

    I'm still on the fence with Donald Brown. This season is the first time we have had anything resembling run blocking, so we see him making some plays.

    As for the 1998 draft, including Manning, only five out the first ten players selected ever made a pro-bowl. You can pick a dud up high just as well as you can at lower picks.

    In 1999 the top ten looked a bit better, but we needed a RB. Polian correctly passed over Ricky Williams and drafted James - in the face of overwhelming public opinion to the contrary.

    The draft position argument is bogus. Look at who the Colts drafted in the 2nd round between 1998 and 2004. Compare the quality of those picks to who we got in late round 1st picks in the years since.