Looking from the opposite side of the spectrum now. After my top five draft busts from last week was such a hit (I never knew there were so many Rob Morris fans), I decided to do the top 5 draft steals. Now, Polian’s drafts will be under the microscope now. This one will be easy to find the choices but hard to separate them. I will only use steals from the draft, so no undrafted free agents. Sorry Gary, Dominic, Big Ed.
5. Ryan Diem, Round 4, Pick 118, 2001: Diem has been a starter since his first season, and he hasn’t looked back since. Diem has been the right guard for the Colts since 2003, and he has been a great run blocker in his time in Indy. Diem was a great pick in the fourth round, and he has helped the Colts line be dominate over the past 7 seasons. Offensive lineman taken before him-Ben Hamilton out of Minnesota.
4. Bill Brooks, Round 4, Pick 86, 1986: This is the first and only non-Polian pick on this list. Brooks was a solid receiver for the Colts for 7 seasons. He had 5818 receiving yards in 7 seasons with the team. He was also a fairly decent returner, averaging 6.8 yards per return on punts. He was recently inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor. Wide receiver taken before him-David Williams out of Illinois.
3. Cato June, Round 6, Pick 198, 2003: June and the two picks that follow were all tough for me to get the order on. June was a phenomenal player when he was with the Colts. He made the Pro Bowl in 2005, and he was a great pass defender. He got 10 interceptions in 4 years with the Colts. This all at outside linebacker. Cato June was designed for the Tampa 2. Linebacker taken before him-Joe Odom out of Purdue.
2. Robert Mathis, Round 5, Pick 138, 2003: My guess is most of you would have picked Mathis at number one. Mathis has 42 sacks in five seasons. He wasn’t even a starter for the first three. I’m not a big Mathis fan, but there is no denying that he pressures the quarterback on a consistent basis. His play last season after Freeney got hurt and before his injury helped the Colts secondary out a lot. He played great against Jacksonville, and he had a great forced fumble that helped the Colts get out on a good start. He has 25 forced fumbles in his career as well. A great all-around pass rusher. Defensive end taken before him-Jamaal Green out of Miami (Fla.)
1. Antoine Bethea, Round 6, Pick 207, 2006: A little early, maybe. However, Antoine Bethea did make the Pro Bowl this season and had 4 interceptions, leading the secondary. Bethea was everything you could ask for out of a free safety. He made the big plays with his interceptions, and he had 47 tackles in 13 games. For someone who plays center field in the Tampa 2, that’s pretty good. Safety taken before him-Marcus Hudson out of North Carolina State.
Photo by Darren Cummings, AP.