What If the Colts Had Drafted Ryan Leaf?
Yeah, I know it’s a question that’s been pondered a thousand times, but I started thinking about it because the Colts are playing the Saints tonight, and the old thoughts of Peyton following in dad Archie’s footsteps came up. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Peyton would have ended up playing for the Saints, but it’s pretty easy to imagine the Colts drafting Ryan Leaf in 1998. It almost happened after all.
1998 – Colts draft Leaf, and the San Diego Chargers draft Manning.
1999 – The Colts are still excited about Leaf and still have troubles with Marshall Faulk, so they still draft Edgerrin James.
2000- The Colts are pretty bad, but not ready to give up on Leaf. They draft Brian Urlacher to beef up the defense.
2001 – After releasing Leaf, the Colts take a chance on hometown favorite Drew Brees in the middle of the first round.
2002 – Brees looked OK his first year, but the Colts struggled on D, so they take DT Ryan Sims in the first round. DE Dwight Freeney goes to the Dallas Cowboys.
2003 – The Colts, a middle-of-the pack team in 2002, take TE Dallas Clark in the first round.
2004 – After a division title and a divisional playoff loss, the Colts take CB Chris Gamble in the first round. The Oakland Raiders draft Eli Manning after brother Payton leads the Chargers to a Super Bowl victory.
2005 – Brees takes the Colts to the AFC title game, and the team drafts CB Marlin Jackson.
2006 – After an injury to Brees drops the Colts to the bottom of the AFC South standings, they draft LB A.J. Hawk.
2007 – The Colts win the Super Bowl, and Brees is named MVP.
2008 – Indy repeats as SB champs, beating Manning and the Chargers in the AFC title game. A neck injury suffered by Manning in the game prompts a trade to the New Orleans Saints, his father’s old team.
2009 – Peyton Manning retires after one season in New Orleans, 300 yard shy of his father’s career mark for passing yards. Brees and the Colts fall to 8-8 and lose in the Wild Card round.
2010 – The Colts release Brees, sighting diminished play and salary constraints, and draft QB Tim Tebow in the first round.
2011 – With Tebow still struggling, the Colts roll into New Orleans during Week 7 to face Eli Manning, who was replaced in Oakland by Carson Palmer. Both the Colts and the Saints are 0-6.
You never know. It could have happened that way!