7 Biggest Draft-Day Mistakes in Indianapolis Colts History

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IIMarch 13, 2014

7 Biggest Draft-Day Mistakes in Indianapolis Colts History

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    Everyone makes mistakes, even professional sports franchises.

    The NFL is no exception, even with the Indianapolis Colts. The NFL draft is an especially big time for potential mistakes, as we've seen even the most highly touted prospects turn into complete busts.

    During their time in Indianapolis, the Colts organization has made a number of mistakes on draft day, just like the other 31 teams in the league. Teams can recover from some of these mistakes, but others can hurt a franchise for several years.

    With that being said, let's take a look at seven of the biggest draft day mistakes the Colts have made since moving to Indianapolis.

7. Anthony Gonzalez

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    With an aging Marvin Harrison, the Colts decided to use their No. 32 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft on Ohio State wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez. While the pick seemed to be a promising one at the time, it looks much worse looking back.

    Gonzalez showed potential during his first two seasons, catching 94 passes for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2009, he was expected to replace Harrison and start opposite of Reggie Wayne, but he missed the entire season after injuring his knee in the season opener.

    After that injury, Gonzalez was never able to really come back. Over the last three years of his career with the Colts, Gonzalez caught just five passes for 67 yards.

6. John Elway

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    Had John Elway actually played for the Colts, the history of the franchise could have been changed forever.

    The Colts drafted the now Hall of Fame quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 draft, but Elway refused to play with the team, threatening to go play for the New York Yankees if they didn't trade him away.

    Elway eventually was traded to the Denver Broncos, with the Colts getting Chris Hinton, Mark Herrmann and a first-round pick. Elway went on to win two Super Bowls in his NFL career and was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times.

    While the fact that Elway refused to play hurt for Colts fans, at least they got another all-time great at quarterback around 15 years later.

5. Steve Emtman/Quentin Coryatt

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    I'm grouping these two players together because they were drafted No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the 1992 NFL draft, but neither exactly lived up to the hype.

    11 of the 28 first-round picks in that draft went to at least one Pro Bowl, but Steve Emtman and Quentin Coryatt were never selected. Emtman, the No. 1 overall pick, showed some promise in his rookie season, but constant injuries kept him from ever reaching his full potential, as he retired in 1997 at just 27 years old.

    Coryatt played in 78 games with the Colts, but he never lived up to the hype, recording just 8.5 sacks and 441 tackles during his six years in Indy.

4. Tony Ugoh

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    Bill Polian will go down as one of the most famous general managers of all time, but this might have been one of the worst picks he made while working with the Colts.

    For some reason, Polian seemed determined to bring in Ugoh out of Arkansas in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft, even giving away a first-round pick in 2008. 

    As Colts fans learned once again this year, trading away a first-round pick doesn't always work out.

    Ugoh took over as the starting left tackle after Tarik Glenn retired, and he was a big disappointment. During the 2007 season, Peyton Manning was sacked 21 times, the most since 2002.

    Along with Ugoh being a bust, the Colts also lost out on a number of other players in the 2008 draft after trading away their first-round pick, making this one of the biggest draft day mistakes of Polian's career.

3. Dedric Mathis

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    While he wasn't a first-round selection, Dedric Mathis still turned out to be a major disappointment and a huge liability when on the field.

    Mathis was taken with the 51st overall pick in the 1996 draft, the second pick the Colts made that year after taking Marvin Harrison with their first. Although they had a strong secondary, the Colts were hoping that Mathis could be an asset on defense.

    While Mathis appeared in all 16 games during his rookie season, he hurt the team more than he helped when on the field. Not only did he struggle to cover receivers, but Mathis also gave up huge plays on a consistent basis.

    The Colts could have drafted players like Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens or Tedy Bruschi with their pick, but instead they got a player that played in just 29 games and recorded one interception in two years with the team before being released.

2. Trev Alberts

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    When the Colts drafted linebacker Trev Alberts with the No. 5 overall pick, they were expecting big things from him. After all, during his senior season at Nebraska, he was a first-team All-American and Butkus Award winner after recording 15 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.

    However, Alberts came nowhere close to meeting expectations at the next level, as he's considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. To make matters worse for Indianapolis, six of the next eight selections in the 1994 draft went on to go to at least one Pro Bowl, including linebacker Jamir Miller, who was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 10 pick.

    Alberts went on to start just seven games and lasted just three years with the Colts, recording just 69 tackles and an interception.

1. Jeff George

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    Colts fans will never forget Jeff George, but that's not exactly a good thing.

    The No. 1 overall pick in 1990, George was a hometown hero, playing high school football at Warren Central in Indianapolis before going to Purdue and later transferring to Illinois. The Colts traded up to take him, and at the time he was drafted, George signed the biggest rookie contract in NFL history.

    Unfortunately, George came nowhere close to living up to his deal. In four seasons in Indy, George led the Colts to a lowly 14-35 record in the 49 games he started, posting a quarterback rating of just 72.0. George spent the rest of his NFL career with a number of teams, playing all the way until 2006.