"No, we always try to draft the best player available, and the best example I can give you is Reggie Wayne," Polian said. "We had a very big need for a cornerback that year, we could not agree on who that person should be. So we turned around, traded down, and took Reggie Wayne, who was the best player available at that pick. And it turned out to be the right thing.
"And it always is, you should take the best player. You might be wrong in the assessment of the player, but as long as you take the best player your odds of success are very much greater than they would be otherwise."
While we won't go as in depth into each round as we did the first round in Part Two, we'll take a close look at the average selection and number of players selected at each position and identify particularly savvy or unfortunate choices at those positions during Polian's 11 drafts with the Colts.
AVERAGE ROUND: 3.5
STUD: Peyton Manning (1-1, 1998)
NOTES: Not much to see here. Polian has selected Manning and Jim Sorgi in his time with the Colts. Peyton is the man, Jim remains the Maytag Man. Moving on . . .
Running BackNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 5
AVERAGE ROUND: 4.2
STUD: Edgerrin James (1-4, 1999)
MISS: Anthony Davis (7-243, 2005)
DO YOU REMEMBER? Brian Allen (6-204, 2002)
NOTES: Polian has used first round picks on running backs twice, and it netted the Colts James and Addai. Other than them, the Colts have picked up backs late in the draft or found free agents such as Rhodes and James Mungro.
Wide ReceiverNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 6
AVERAGE ROUND: 3
STUD: Reggie Wayne (1-30, 2001)
MISS: E.G. Green (3-71, 1998)
NOTES: Polian has found a couple of solid producers with first-round picks Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez (1-32, 2007). The Colts also got contributions from Jerome Pathon (2-32, 1998) for a number of years. Hall has been a constant on the injured list, and the jury is still out on him and Pierre Garcon (6-205, 2008).
Tight EndNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 4
AVERAGE ROUND: 3.5
STUD: Dallas Clark (1-24, 2003)
MISS: Ben Hartsock (3-68, 2004)
DO YOU REMEMBER? Hartsock
NOTES: Clark has been excellent, but Hartsock never developed into the complement Polian envisioned. He's trying again with 2008 draft picks Jacob Tamme (4-127) and Tom Santi (6-196) both of who showed progress during injury-filled rookie campaigns.
Offensive TackleNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 5
AVERAGE ROUND: 3.5
STUD: Ryan Diem (4-118, 2001)
MISS: Makoa Freitas (6-208, 2003)
DO YOU REMEMBER? Freitas
Offensive GuardNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 8
AVERAGE ROUND: 4.9
STUD: Jake Scott (5-141)
MISS: Aaron Taylor (7-190, 1998)
DO YOU REMEMBER? Brandon Burlsworth (3-63, 1999)
NOTES: The numbers have shown that this is traditionally not a high priority for the Colts, although the team has had several centers and tackles play guard, as well. Scott, who departed in 2008 in free agency, was the best of the bunch. The highest guard to be selected was Burlsworth, the charismatic third-rounder from Arkansas who tragically died just days after the 1999 draft.
CenterNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 4
AVERAGE ROUND: 5
STUD: Jamey Richard (7-236)
MISS: Robert Hunt (5-165)
NOTES: Center is another spot that didn't get much attention from Polian until the 2008 draft, when Polian selected three college centers. Richard ended up impressing and starting seven games. Mike Pollak (2-59) and Steve Justice (6-201) are probably looking a guard spots in the future, although one of the trio will likely be the center when the real "stud" at the position, Jeff Saturday, hangs up his helmet.
Defensive TackleNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 7
AVERAGE ROUND: 4.6
STUD: Larry Triplett (2-42, 2002)
MISS: Quinn Pitcock (3-98, 2007)
DO YOU REMEMBER? David Pugh (6-182, 2002)
NOTES: It's a sad state of affairs when Larry Triplett gets the "stud" designation at defensive tackle. The Colts have had notoriously bad luck at this position, but they haven't drafted well or consistently, either. They looked to have a solid base established in 2007, with Pitcock, Keyunta Dawson (7-242) and Ed Johnson (undrafted free agent), but less than two years later, Dawson is the only one left, and the team is still looking for long-terms solutions at the position.
Defensive EndNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 8
AVERAGE ROUND: 4.75
STUD: Dwight Freeney (1-11, 2002)
MISS: Jonathan Welsh (5-148, 2005)
NOTES: Freeney was the sole first-rounder and was obviously a home run, but Polian has found other success stories later in the drafting both Brad Scioli and Robert Mathis in the fifth round and 138th overall in 1999 and 2003, respectively. He's hoping for future, similar success with 2008 fifth-rounder Marcus Howard (161 overall).
LinebackerNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 13
AVERAGE ROUND: 3.6
STUD: Marcus Washington (2-59, 2000)
MISS: Gilbert Gardner (3-69, 2004)
DO YOU REMEMBER? Keyon Whiteside (5-162)
NOTES: Polian has taken just one linebacker in the first round, Rob Morris (1-28, 2000), but has also spent two picks on second-rounders, three third-rounders, three fourth-rounders and three on fifth-rounders. The results have been consistently solid, with Mike Peterson (2-36, 1999), Washington, David Thornton (4-106, 2002), Cato June (6-198, 2003), Tyjuan Hagler (5-173, 2005), Freddie Keiaho (3-94, 2006), and Clint Session (4-136, 2007) all contributing in Indianapolis and elsewhere. The unfortunate thing about this group is that the best three of them — Washington, Thornton and Peterson — have left Indianapolis to continue fine careers elsewhere. But you can't say Polian hasn't drafted this position well.
CornerbackNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 14
AVERAGE ROUND: 4.1
STUD: Kelvin Hayden (2-60, 2005)
MISS: Joseph Jefferson (3-74, 2002)
DO YOU REMEMBER? Rodregis Brooks (7-238, 2000)
NOTES: With this many selections, there were bound to be some hits and misses. Polian has used just one first-rounder on a corner (Marlin Jackson, 29th, 2005) and has spaced out the other picks pretty evenly (two second-rounders, three third-rounders, two fourth-rounders, two fifth-rounders, two sixth-rounders and two seventh-rounders). Hayden and Jackson have been solid when healthy, while others have ranged from adequate (David Macklin, 3-91, 2000; Jason David, 4-125, 2004) to frustrating (Tim Jennings, 2-62, 2006; Dante Hughes, 3-95, 2007) to forgotten (Brooks; Paul Miranda, 4-96, 1999).
SafetyNUMBER OF SELECTIONS: 10
AVERAGE ROUND: 3.9
STUD: Bob Sanders (2-44, 2004)
MISS: Mike Doss (2-58, 2003)
DO YOU REMEMBER? Jason Doering (6-193, 2001)
NOTES: It's probably unfair to call Doss a "miss" — after all, he started 42 of the 46 games he played in for Indianapolis — but the Colts moved on pretty quickly, selecting Sanders the next year. Sanders, of course, has gone on to be a superstar, and Doss has played in just 11 games in the last two years. Polian has also made solid late-round find in Antoine Bethea (6-207, 2006). Matt Giordano (4-135, 2005) has been a solid insurance option, but is likely headed out of Indy after Melvin Bullitt's emergence and his contract expired.
Check back soon for a final wrapup of this series with some conclusions!
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