1998 was a huge draft for the Colts. They had the first pick, and Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning were the two stars of this draft. Ryan Leaf was the larger-than-life personality from Washington State. Peyton Manning was the son of an NFL legend who kept to himself off the field. Polian was starting his first draft as the Colts GM. Let's look at the picks he made and how they turned out.
Rd. 1, Pick 1: Peyton Manning/QB/Tennessee
Next 3 Picks: Ryan Leaf/QB/Washington State, Andre Wadsworth/DE/Florida State, Charles Woodson/CB/Michigan
Looking Back: We were so close to being stuck in the top 5 of the draft for 11 years. There wouldn't be a Super Bowl XLI banner hanging anywhere close to Indianapolis. Hell, there may not even be an NFL team in Indianapolis if Polian would have taken Ryan Leaf, the bust of all busts. Peyton Manning is going to end his career with every notable passing record and with multiple Super Bowl victories. Ryan Leaf is the golf coach at West Texas A&M. What a relief...
Rd. 2, Pick 32: Jerome Pathon/WR/Washington
Next 3 Picks: Corey Chavous/S/Vanderbilt, Jacquez Green/WR/Florida, Tony Parrish/S/Washington
Looking Back: Could have done better. Pathon had two 50 reception seasons with the Colts even though he only played 3 years with the team. He was a mediocre kick returner, only getting one return over 40 yards in 3 seasons with the Colts. He was a decent slot receiver for the young Colts offense of the late 90s, but Chavous and Flozell Adams, two future Pro Bowlers taken within the next 10 picks, would have been much better options.
Rd. 3 Pick 71: E.G. Green/WR/Florida State
Next 3 Picks: Jeremiah Trotter/LB/Stephen F. Austin, Mitch Marrow/DT/Penn, Jammi German/WR/Miami
Looking Back: Can you tell Polian wanted to get the offense rolling? Green was not the best choice right there. It's a good thing Polian drafted Peyton, or else this draft would be left off of his track record. Green played 3 seasons in the NFL, all with the Colts. He only scored 2 touchdowns and never caught more than 25 passes. Hines Ward was the best receiver taken in the third round after the Colts.
Rd. 4 Pick 93: Steve McKinney/C/Texas A&M
Next 3 Picks: Alonzo Mayes/TE/Oklahoma State, Michael Pittman/RB/Fresno State, Az-Zahir Hakim/WR/San Diego State
Looking Back: Finally a strong pick here. McKinney was a solid guard for the Colts for 4 seasons. He helped keep Peyton Manning standing up, which was helpful in his quick development. McKinney is still playing in the NFL today, unlike Green and Pathon.
Rd. 5 Pick 135: Antony Jordan/LB/Vanderbilt
Next 3 Picks: Jerry Jenson/LB/Washington, Jason Simmons/DB/Arizona State, Oliver Ross/OT/Iowa State
Looking Back: Not much to say here. Jordan doesn't have a Wikipedia page and pro-football-reference.com doesn't have his stats. Of course, with the talent left in the draft, this isn't a horrible pick.
Rd. 7 Pick 190: Aaron Taylor/C/Nebraska
Next 3 Picks: David Terrell/DB/UTEP, Alvis Whitted/WR/North Carolina State, Phil Savoy/WR/Colorado
Looking Back: Taylor did not play a game with the Colts, but he had a minorly successful career with the Packers and Chargers that lasted for 5 years. There were no Pro Bowlers left, so the Colts didn't miss out on much.
Rd. 7 Pick 231: Corey Gaines/S/Tennessee
Next 3 Picks: Moses Moreno/QB/Colorado State, Ron James/FB/Miami, Kio Sanford/WR/Kentucky
Looking Back: Gaines doesn't have a Wikipedia page or a pro-football-reference.com page. That pretty much explains this pick.
Grade: I give the Colts a B for this draft. Sure, 5 picks were crap, but the Peyton pick at least has to give this a B, and McKinney solidifies this grade. If this draft looks mediocre to you, remember this. Ryan Leaf could have worn a Colts jersey. Think of how frightening this image is.
That is a horrifyingly real picture from deadspin.com. It was probably taken at a photoshoot so there could be pictures to market immediately after the draft. I should have warned you guys about the gruesome image above. Thank Polian for this not happening.