Indianapolis Colts Get an A+ for the 2012 Draft for Luck, Allen and Hilton

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJanuary 1, 2013

The Indianapolis Colts had one of the best drafts in recent memory, easily taking the top grade in the AFC South one year later.

From uber-rookie Andrew Luck all the way to fifth-round flyer Vick Ballard, Ryan Grigson hit on pick after pick helping to turn the Colts from a 2-14 disaster to an 11-5 playoff team.

After the draft, fair expectation baselines were set for the Indianapolis rookies. Player after player met or exceeded those baselines.

Back in April, I gave the Colts a B+ for their draft, docking them for their late round picks. Now it's clear that the only possible grade for this draft was an A+.


Andrew Luck-Round 1, Pick 1

Baseline: 57%, 3,500 yards, 7.0 YPA, more touchdowns than interceptions, 75.0 rating.

Actual Production: 54.1%, 4,374 yards, 7.0 YPA, 23 TD, 18 INT, 76.5 rating.

Verdict: Surpassed Expectations

The baseline for Luck was set high on purpose. From the start, he was given a tougher standard than even Peyton Manning was for his rookie year.

There's no question that Luck has been more than anyone could have reasonably expected. He managed to pass the benchmark for an elite rookie year in all categories but completion percentage. That's a function of his high-volume, vertical passing offense, however.

Luck is easily the most talented of the rookie quarterbacks and his ceiling is far higher than even what Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III have shown. In a redraft, Luck would still be the top choice by a wide margin.


Coby Fleener-Round 2, Pick 34

Baseline: 40 catches, 400 yards, four touchdowns

Actual Production: 26 catches, 281 yards, two touchdowns in 12 games.

Verdict: Missed Expectations (slightly)

Fleener missed a quarter of the season. His prorated numbers would have been 36/375/3.

He struggled early in the year, but overall his pace was right in line with a strong expectation for his season. Because of the outstanding play of Dwayne Allen, Colts fans may view Fleener as a bit of a bust, but there's no reason to feel that way.

He had a perfectly respectable rookie year, and there's every reason to think his arrow is pointing up.


Dwayne Allen-Round 3, Pick 64

Baseline: 30 catches, 300 yards, three touchdowns

Actual Production: 45 catches, 521 yards, three touchdowns

Verdict: Surpassed Expectations

Allen was fantastic both blocking and receiving and had an all-around super rookie season. Combined, the two tight ends totaled more than 800 yards and five touchdowns.

Allen is ahead of Fleener as a target for now, but both players have tremendous upside.


T.Y. Hilton-Round 3, Pick 92

Baseline: 25 catches, 350 yards, two touchdowns

Actual Production: 50 catches, 861 yards, seven touchdowns, punt return touchdown

Verdict: Surpassed Expectations

What makes Hilton such a fantastic pick isn't that he played well. It's that Grigson traded up to get him.

Getting a rookie star like Hilton in the third round is a coup, but when a GM rolls the dice to snag the player, it makes him look like a genius.

Hilton has been tremendous for Indy and looks to be a big part of the offense for years to come.


Josh Chapman-Round 5, Pick 136

Baseline: 10 games played, one start, 10 tackles

Actual Production: Never played

Verdict: Failed to Meet Expectations

The Colts knew Chapman had a knee injury when they drafted him. He was never able to come off of the PUP list, and though he got a few practices, they ultimately decided to put him on the shelf for the whole season.

That doesn't make Chapman a bad pick. The team took a risk, and he'll have a chance to thrive in 2013.


Vick Ballard-Round 5, Pick 170

Actual Production: 814 yards, two touchdowns, 152 yards receiving, one touchdown

Verdict: Surpassed Expectations

For whatever reason, there was no projection done for Ballard, but it's safe to say he would have obliterated whatever standard was given him.

Ballard took over as the Colts top back and gave them quality carries all season. His YPC settled in at 3.9 for the year, and he doesn't look like a long-term solution at running back, but for a team in desperate need of a back in 2012, he fit the bill.

He should be a useful player, though probably not a starter, for years to come.


LaVon Brazil-Round 6, Pick 206

Baseline: 10 catches, 100 yards, one touchdown

Actual Production: 11 catches, 186 yards, one touchdown

Verdict: Met Expectations

Brazil never caught on as a returner, but did manage to post solid enough rookie year numbers. The Colts got about what you'd expect out of this type of receiver.

He shows outstanding speed and should be in the mix for more playing time in 2013.


Justin Anderson-Round 7, Pick 208

Tim Fugger-Round 7, Pick 214

Chandler Harnish-Round 7, Pick 253

None of these players managed to stay on the roster for the entire season. The reason the Indy draft was initially criticized was that the seventh round picks seemed weak.

Harnish did make the final roster and hung around on the practice squad, so that counts as a win of sorts for Grigson.


Ultimately, docking the Colts a letter grade for weak seventh round picks was too harsh. Of the top seven picks in the 2013 draft, only two failed to meet expectations. Fleener and Chapman still have the chance to be quality players, however, and I suspect the Colts would choose both again if given the choice.

In the same draft the Colts took their quarterback, top two tight ends, number two receiver and starting running back.

That's an A+ draft in any book.


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