The Colts don’t have a first-round pick at the upcoming draft, and at the beginning of last decade, that would have been a good thing. Management would have just mucked it up somehow, likely by adding a diva, crystal-fragile injured reserve specialist, or generally overall middling underachiever. This team’s decade of 6 Sanchez Purple AFL50th jersey
supremacy is even more remarkable when one looks back at how the 90s began.Jeff George, who, at age 40, should maybe finally begin thinking about growing up, kept the ball from getting rolling. He started things off utterly wrong for this team as 1990’s first overall selection, slacking and bitching his way into the worst sort of oblivion, namely that area reserved for unbelievably talented people who can’t be bothered to harness their extraordinary gifts.The concept that a good attitude is crucial to a quarterback’s success became an issue again eight years later; thankfully, the Colts obviously chose wisely on that occasion. Learning from one’s mistakes separates ultimately successful humans from eternal failures and mental patients; it took until 1998, but they demonstrated that they got collectively smarter.The Colts didn’t have a first round chance in 1991, which they made up for with a double measure of disappointment the next season. Given the unprecedented luxury of possessing the top two picks, they achieved the near impossible by lucking out with neither.Steve Emtman, basically a human muscle who unfortunately also had papier-maché ligaments and tendons, was betrayed by his body, as injuries kept him from even providing a glimpse of what heights he could have reached following college. Their second try actually went better, but not spectacularly so: Quentin Coryatt’s career may be most gently classified as steady, as he failed to reach the fantastic status he wanted and the Colts needed.That was similar to the production level they got from Sean Dawkins of Cal, their first 1993 addition. He never gained 1,000 yards in a season and topped out at 68 catches in 1997, his final in Indianapolis. That would have been okay for a player acquired later in the afternoon, but it’s a level that was frankly disappointing for the 16th overall choice.Things seemingly turned around in 1994, but only for an hour or so: they of course got Marshall Faulk at second overall, but kept up the tradition of wasting opportunities just three spots later with Trev Alberts. The linebacker was so broken down that he was no longer able to work after only three professional seasons; it was similar to what happened when he stopped showing up at his ESPN commentator gig, although that time he didn’t have the excuse of being plagued by injuries that kept him from doing his job.The selection of defensive tackle Ellis Johnson in 1995 was the option that may have been the sort-of milestone on the path to competence. He spent half a dozen years as a Colt, over the course of which he tallied 29.5 sacks; that’s not an undeniably amazing total, but there was at least some return on the risk. The next year they added Marvin Harrison, which was the official moment at which they officially, mercifully turned the corner.The point is perspective: the Colts are now good while drafting late, which is the precise opposite of early last decade when they were lousy while 4 Brett Favre Purple jersey
drafting early. This franchise had a tendency to add at worst thorough busts and at best fair contributors who produced the way one would expect from mid-round picks, not mid-first-rounders.With no slot in the initial cycle this year, Bill Polian will still undoubtedly find someone fantastic with the team’s first opening, a player who should be capable of contributing and perhaps even starting immediately. Fans should be grateful, in part because it was distinctly unlike this during the not-too-distant past: things used to go exactly backwards for the Colts.