NFL Draft 2011: The 10 Best First-Round Selections of the Indianapolis Colts

Alex CurtlandCorrespondent IApril 11, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: The 10 Best First-Round Selections of the Indianapolis Colts

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    Colts president Bill Polian is considered one of the better drafting GM's in the league.

    Peyton Manning, Dwight Freeney, and Marvin Harrison (among others) are all players drafted by Polian who have gone on to have HOF careers.

    Polian is also great at finding talent in the later rounds of the draft.

    Jeff Saturday, Antoine Bethea, and Gray Brackett are examples of players who have all turned into starters for the Colts despite their late selection (all were 6th round or later picks).  

    Looking at the history of the Colts' draft's, here are the ten best first round selections of Indy.   

1. Tennessee QB Peyton Manning

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    Career Highlights: Superbowl XLI MVP, four-time AP NFL MVP, 11 time Pro Bowl selection, Colts all-time leader in wins 

    Draft Selection: Number one overall pick in 1998 NFL Draft

    It wasn't an easy choice selecting Manning; many scouts had Washington State QB Ryan Leaf ranked slightly ahead of Manning.  

    But Manning's accuracy and leadership skills won out over the strong arm of Leaf. 

    And thank goodness, because the two QB's career's could not have turned out much differently. 

    Had the Colts made the wrong decision and selected Leaf, it would have set them back monumentally as a franchise. 

    The selection of Manning made football relevant in a basketball state, leading to a Superbowl title, a new stadium, and now Indianapolis is home of the 2012 Superbowl- all thanks to Manning.  

2. Syracuse DE Dwight Freeney

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    Career Highlights: Colts all-time leader in sacks, six time Pro Bowl selection, fourth among active players in sacks 

    Draft Selection: 11th overall pick in 2002 NFL Draft 

    Frenney has been a sack artist since arriving in Indy, with a rookie record nine forced fumbles in his first season in Indy.  

    He led the NFL in sacks in 2004 and has been a consistent Pro Bowl selection for the Colts.

    He is already 33rd on the career sacks list, and has plenty left in the tank at only 31 years of age. 

    His ability to generate pressure on the QB has made the Colts Tampa Two defensive so effective over the years, as with Freeney the Colts are able to create pressure without blitzing.

3. Syracuse WR Marvin Harrison

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    Career Highlights: Eight time Pro-Bowler, NFL record 143 receptions in 2002, holds many QB/WR records with Peyton Manning  

    Draft Selection: 19th selection in 1996 NFL Draft 

    Wideouts Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Eric Moulds were all taken in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft, but the Colts got the pick right with Harrison. 

    His great route running allowed him to instantly bond with young QB Manning, becoming an insurance blanket for the talented, but unproven, QB. 

    He holds every prominent QB to WR record with Manning, and had over 1,000 receptions and 125 touchdowns in his NFL career.

4. San Diego State RB Marshall Faulk

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    Career Highlights: Elected to HOF in 2011, NFL MVP in 2000, seven time Pro-Bowl selection 

    Draft Selection: Second selection in 1994 NFL Draft 

    Faulk is better remembered for his playing days with the Rams, but he had a brief, spectactular career with the Colts as well.   

    He was one of the great dual-threat players in the NFL; he is one of three players to amass 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving. 

    He won an MVP and a Superbowl in St. Louis playing alongside Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, and Issac Bruce.

5. Miami RB Edgerrin James

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    Career Highlights: Colts career leader in rushing, four time Pro-Bowl selection, AP offensive ROY in 1999, 11th all-time in career rushing yards  

    Draft Selection: Fourth selection in 1999 NFL Draft 

    It was a gutsy decision selecting James over Heisman winner Ricky Williams, but it paid off for the Colts.

    He fit in great with the Colts rushing scheme, especially on their now trademarked stretch play.

    He missed out on the Colts Superbowl title, but he helped build the foundation of success that has resulted in now 12 straight postseason appearances for the Colts.

    James was such a big part of the Colts that management even had a Superbowl ring delivered to him after the victory over the Bears.    

6. Miami WR Reggie Wayne

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    Career Highlights: Five time Pro-Bowl selection, led NFL in receiving in 2007 season 

    Draft Selection: 30th overall selection in 2001 NFL Draft 

    Wayne had to wait his turn playing behind Marvin Harrison in Indy, but once he emerged, the Colts had perhaps the best one-two punch at WR in the league. 

    Similar to Harrison because of his great route running and hands (albeit average speed and height), Wayne now is the number one receiver in Indy and may be on his way to a HOF career. 

    Wayne's role has continually changed with the Colts, to the point now where he is the leader of the WR core. 

    Regardless of what is asked of him, Wayne has always done the job without complaint, making him a fan favorite and all-time Colt great.  

7. Michigan State WR Andre Rison

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    Career Highlights: Five time Pro-Bowl selection, touchdown with NFL record seven teams, Superbowl and Grey Cup (CFL) champion 

    Draft Selection: 22nd pick in 1989 NFL Draft 

    Rison played only one season for the Colts, so he did not leave a lasting impact on the franchise.

    But the journeyman had a great NFL career; it's a shame the Colts traded him after only one season.

    He won a Superbowl with the Packers, the highlight of a productive 11 year NFL career. 

8. Alabama LB Cornelius Bennett

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    Career Highlights: Five time Pro-Bowler, AFC defensive POY in 1988 and 1991 seasons 

    Draft Selection: 2nd overall selection in 1987 NFL Draft 

    Again, Bennett is better remembered for his playing days in Buffalo, as the high draft pick was unable to reach a rookie contract with the Colts. 

    A great sack artist, Bennett also had 27 fumble recoveries and 7 interceptions in his pro career. 

    He played in a time of great defensive players, and while not an LT or Andre Tippett, he had a long, successful career.  

9. California OT Tarik Glenn

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    Career Highlights: Three time Pro-Bowl selection, Superbowl XLI champion 

    Draft Selection: 19th overall pick in 1997 NFL Draft 

    Glenn's three Pro-Bowl appearances belittle his impact to the Colts; winning a Superbowl would have been impossible without him. 

    He did a great job protecting Manning's blind side at a time in his career when the QB was less conscious of incoming blitzers. 

    He also did a great job in run blocking.  Whether it be Edgerrin James, Dominic Rhodes, or James Mungro, Colts' RB's had a great deal of success running behind Glenn.  

10. Iowa TE Dallas Clark

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    Career Highlights: One Pro-Bowl selection, Colts franchise leader in yards by a TE and receiving touchdown's by a TE, had 100 receptions in 2009, only the second TE ever to accomplish that feat 

    Draft Selection: 24th pick in 2003 NFL Draft 

    Clark had to wait playing behind Marcus Pollard, but once he became the full time starter he has never looked back. 

    Half receiver and half TE, Clark creates mismatches on the field with his ability to line up off the line of scrimmage.  He is too fast and too good a route runner to cover with a linebacker. 

    With Marvin Harrison gone, Clark has become Manning's go to guy in pressure situations, and has responded great, becoming one of the elite TE's in the league.