The NFL Draft has long advocated the importance of “going deep” as the seven rounds of the draft can produce talent from any pick.
Teams and scouts spend hours on end to research and develop a draft strategy that they believe will best benefit their organization. Teams spend millions of dollars on their selections in hopes of producing Pro-Bowl level talent.
Bill Polian, president of the Indianapolis Colts, is heralded as one of the best minds in the NFL Draft, as evidence by the history of the Colts draft selections under his tenure.
“It’s a real art, but Bill knows what he’s looking for, and he knows what the most important characteristic for success is in an offensive lineman or a running back,” remarked NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt of the Colts President. “He drafts them and they’re safe players. Those safe players might not end up going to the Pro Bowl but if you get enough of them, you’ll be a playoff team.”
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Polian has spearheaded draft campaigns for the Colts, for which they have not had a first round selection inside the top-15 since 2000. From 2000-2009, the Colts missed the playoffs just once, and won 115 games, tops in the NFL during that span. They also earned two conference championships and one Super Bowl title.
Such picks of Polian’s include Dallas Clark, who was the 24th overall selection back in 2003. Clark produces among the highest numbers for tight-ends and receivers in the league.
In addition to Clark, Polian pulled the trigger on receiver Reggie Wayne, who was the 30th selection in the first round out of Miami. Wayne has since gone on to become second on the organization’s all-time receiving list. He is also on a string of four consecutive Pro Bowl Appearances.
Evidence of Polian’s Draft strategy came to the forefront in 2004, when the organization made the decision to trade down their picks two times, before selecting safety Bob Sanders as the 44th overall pick. Sanders has since shined for the Colts, including being named the defensive player of the year in 2007.
“I think Bill takes the best player that’s there, and I think he showed that when he took (Anthony) Gonzalez a couple of years ago,” Brandt remarked. “The guy works hard, he knows how to grade players, he has good contacts at the college level. That’s why he’s so good.”
This year, the Colts again find themselves picking outside of the Top-15, as they are slated in the 31st slot of the opening round, in front of only Super Bowl champion New Orleans.
“Sometimes you get guys that look the part, but don’t play the part,” Brandt added. “Other times you get guys that don’t look the part, but play the part. Bill always seems to find someone who fits the part.”
Online Sportsbooks favor the Colts to win Super Bowl XLV, after coming up just short of the goal a year ago.