The people of Indianapolis, and Colts fans worldwide have been very fortunate to have had a front office that has seemed to make all the right decisions…. Well for the most part.
We could go on all day about the great picks over the storied Colts History… Names such as: Unitas, Mackey, Faulk, (and of course) Manning and Luck come to mind.
But when it comes to the NFL drafting process, for every one great pick…There is usually three or four REALLY bad ones. WHICH….I think is a little more fun to talk about :p
Isn’t that right JaMarcuss…. 😉
But, for “the powers that be” in this current regime, they can’t take the credit for those past successes because they want to create a legacy of their own. However, at the same time, they aren’t responsible for the previous Colts blunders either… and with names like Jerry Hughes, Donald Brown, and Tony Ugoh to name a few fairly recent failures… I think they’re okay with that.
So, with almost all of the 2016 draft picks under contract and starting rookie camp this weekend, I think it’s a great time to go back and review the top draft busts over the first four years of the Pagano/Grigson Era:
Honorable Mention: RB Trent Richardson, 2013 trade for 1st Round pick
Indy didn’t draft him back in 2012 because they obviously took Luck with the first pick. BUT, not even half way into his second year with the Browns, the Colts pulled the trigger on the deal to bring him to the Circle City.
Although he had a solid rookie year: 950 yards(3.9 yards per rush) and 11 TDs..He came into the following season and didn’t seem like the same guy with “franchise player” talent, thus prompting Cleveland to accept the trade.
In Richardson’s 2 seasons in Indianapolis, he never rushed for more than 520 yards in either campaign, hovered around 3 yards per rush, and had 3TDs in each season. Needless to say, not worth the 1st round pick price tag.
The Browns received the Colts 1st round pick in the following year in the 2014 Draft. But, although Colts fans regret this trade, it really hard to tell who REALLY lost in this deal. Why, you ask?…..The Browns used that pick to draft none other than, Johnny Manziel. Enough said right?
I will say this though before I move on…looking at all the players Indy did draft in 2012.. That may go down as one of, if not the best, drafts in franchise history! Incase some of you are wondering why I say that…: Luck, C. Fleener, D. Allen, T.Y. Hilton, and V. Ballard were the 5 of the first 6 picks for the Colts that year.
That’s a heck of a way to start a new era if you ask me….
OLB Bjoern Werner, 2013 1st Round
With him just being cut from the roster back in February, this one is probably the most notable considering the obvious lack of production from him in three seasons.
This is also a pretty big stinger for Grigson and Irsay considering the defensive players who came later in the round after they took Werner off the board with that 24th pick: CB Xavier Rhodes(Minnesota), DE Datone Jones(Green Bay), DT Sylvester Williams, & OLB Alec Ogletree(then St. Louis, now LA) All productive young talents for their teams.
His stats in the 81 games played with the Horseshoe were abysmal:
58 tackles, 6.5 sacks, & 1 forced fumble…. For him to have been a successful pick, he would’ve needed to have those stats half way through his rookie year.
DE Johnathon Newsome, 2014 5th Round
A little over two months removed from his sudden release after being arrested for marijuana possession… Many Colts fans may be stuck wondering what Newsome could have been if he’d stayed on the straight and narrow with the law.
His rookie year Newsome provided a BIG boost to a defense that was searching for a successful pass rusher opposite vet Robert Mathis…(mainly because they were hoping to find it in Werner ^). But this late round pick came in and played well above his draft slot.
By the end of the 2014 campaign, “J New” led the team in sacks with 6.5 (as many as Werner had in THREE SEASONS remember) and forced 3 fumbles. The Ball State alum appeared to be one of those “late round gems” everyone loves to think they’ve found on the third day of the draft.
Coming into last season with high expectations though, Newsome struggled, and eventually began to seemingly lose that fire he had his first year. He finished this past season with only 10 tackles, a sack, and one forced fumble.
Then, as they say, “the rest is history”… He tweeted after his released that we haven’t seen the last of him… I guess we will wait and see about that.
RB Vick Ballard, 2012 5th Round
This kind of hurts me to put him in this category because he showed such promise…but it’s true. I know I started off talking about he was involved in the great 2012 draft and I meant that. But, in this case he seems to be on the lower end of an overall great situation.
He started off his career in a big way coming in and earning playing time right away.
(This picture is one of my favorite moments in the Luck/Pagano Era. Ballard’s acrobatic dive into the endzone in OT to beat the Titans.)
He finished his rookie year with a team high 814 yards, while averaging almost 4 yards per carry, and 2TDs. He was a big, bruising rusher who also had decent breakaway speed once he got behind the defense.
Unfortunately, like with many promising RBs in the NFL, the injury bug got to him early….and came with a vengeance.
Ballard went down with a season ending injury in game one of the 2014 campaign, and unfortunately that was the last game he would play with the Colts, being released almost exactly a year after going down with that injury.
Everyone from his teammates, to the coaching staff, front office, and of course the fans were all waiting for him to get healthy so he could come back and help a struggling running game, but unfortunately we never got that chance.
Ballard spent last year with the New Orleans Saints, but was not able to see any in-game snaps all season. It is unclear if that was due to his recovery or just because he was stuck in the “log jam” of RBs on the Saints roster.
Now of course these players aren’t the only 4 players the Colts picked up who aren’t on the team anymore. This list would’ve been never ending if that were the case.
I chose these players because they either came in with high promise and failed to live up to it… Or they were only supposed to come in as a role player, had a breakout year instead, only to fall back down the depth chart and eventually off the team all together.
Also, with such a great class to start with in 2012, and only having 4 drafts under their belt with one who have only been on the team a week… There weren’t many players I could point out that would really fit the bill of a “bust”.
Nonetheless, let’s hope at least most of the players Indy just drafted don’t end up on a list like this in upcoming years.