The Indianapolis Colts are a team that really likes to build its roster from within not with many free agents.
Colts vice chairman Bill Polian explained the process of selecting players in the draft and the way players are evaluated.
“It’s a process. We’re trying to evaluate the physical ability, performance, mental ability, emotional status and system fit for every draft-eligible collegiate player in the country. That is a tall order. Our scouts do a magnificent job of getting out there in the field and providing the data that is necessary to make that evaluation,” Polian explained. “Their evaluations carry great weight. We’ve rarely moved players on the board very much at all from the grades that the scouts have established in December, and when we have in the past we’ve made mistakes. So we’re a little more conscious of that now.”
The reason why Polian is known as one of the best talent evaluators in the history in the NFL is because he’s very consistent in his approach.
“We trust the system, we trust the people who operate the system, they do a great job for us, and we feel that everything that we do in player acquisition is based on that system. Now, much of what we do does not comport with conventional wisdom, and we understand that. I guess ‘conventional wisdom’ is a poor term. It does not comport with the theories that are out there in the media, and that’s fine,” Polian said. “The combine has become a big thing because it is on television. A lot of people see it, and we drafted a player a year ago who wasn’t at the combine and people questioned that. How could you draft a player that wasn’t at the combine? Well, all the combine does is provide us with data. We had the data from another source, our on-campus workout. There are certain myths that have grown up around the draft that we don’t necessarily subscribe to because they don’t comport or fit with our system. There is nothing wrong with them, but we simply don’t place a lot of value on things outside of our system.”
Polian sticks with a philosophy of building through the draft.
“The final piece in that puzzle is that we have a philosophy, you go back to the original definition that the draft and collegiate free agency, which normally follows it and won’t this year, provides us with players. Therefore the player in the first round is no less important than the last collegiate free agent you sign because any and all can provide the winning edge. I recognize that everybody follows the first-rounders and that’s fine, but that’s not the way we look at it. For example, Melvin Bullitt is every bit as important as a player you drafted early because he ends up being a major contributor to a championship team.
“The names go on and on: (WR) Austin Collie, (LB) Kavell Conner, (LB) David Thornton, (RB) Dominic Rhodes, (DE) Robert Mathis, (C) Jeff Saturday, (LB) Gary Brackett, and I apologize to those other great players that we’ve drafted lower than round one who I have not included here. In order to have a successful draft, it isn’t just one round or just two rounds that are important. It is the whole thing top-to-bottom. We put in as much or more work, in fact a great deal of more work, on the backend of the draft than we do on the top. I recognize that everybody focuses on the top and that is fine, but you can’t just draft one player.”