Mel Kiper Re-Drafts 2009 for the Colts


If ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. could go back in time to the 2009 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts would’ve ended up with a solid cornerback instead of their up-and-down running back in Donald Brown, who they selected with the 27th overall pick in that year’s draft.

Unfortunately for the Colts, that cornerback wouldn’t be Vontae Davis however per Kiper’s ESPN Insider (subscription) piece. In Kiper’s re-draft, Davis would’ve been long gone as a Top 5 pick to the New York Jets of all teams, forming a potential shutdown cornerback duo along with All-Pro Darrelle Revis:

"5. New York Jets: Vontae Davis, CBDavis’ actual slot: No. 25 overallNew York’s actual pick: Mark Sanchez, QBHe has been one of the top few cover corners in the NFL during the past couple of seasons, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Based on that alone, he’s worth plenty. He’s second among players in this draft class with 17 career INTs, but no corner from the 2009 draft is currently at Davis’ level. He and Darrelle Revis would have been a decent pair."

Nevertheless, the Colts end up selecting current Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb. While not a star, Webb has been one of the NFL’s more consistent and productive cornerbacks in his 1st 6 NFL seasons. He was a notable Pro Bowl snub in 2011, but had a season in which he was one of the best cornerbacks in the game. Injuries have derailed his career in recent seasons, but he’s still a productive member of the Ravens secondary:

"27. Indianapolis Colts: Lardarius Webb, CBWebb’s actual slot: No. 88 overallIndy’s actual pick: Donald Brown, RBAt his best, Webb was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL during the 2011 season, when he easily deserved a Pro Bowl nod. He hasn’t been up to that level since — injuries have been a culprit — but he’s certainly outperformed his draft slot and is expected back healthy for the Ravens in 2015."

Sep 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown (31) against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, the Colts selected running back Donald Brown. While Brown was largely a bust for his first couple of seasons in Indy, his final season with the Colts in 2013 was fairly productive, as he rushed for 537 yards on 102 carries (5.3 ypc) and 6 touchdowns. Brown parlayed that production into a multi-year contract with the San Diego Chargers, his current team.

Brown’s not a bad running back by any means now, but he clearly wasn’t worth such a high draft spot in the first round. Perhaps, most known for his “God Damnit Donald” botched pass blocking assignment with Peyton Manning, Brown did have one thing going for him during his Colts tenure.

He wasn’t Trent Richardson. 

While Trent Richardson plodded and was ineffective in 2013, eventually losing the starting job, Brown showed considerable burst and explosion and was clearly the Colts best running back after the team lost both Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw to season-ending injuries. Consequently, Richardson started to earn his bust label, while Brown began shedding his.

Still, it’s clear that if the Colts could do it over, then-Colts General Manager Bill Polian probably doesn’t select Donald Brown with the 27th overall pick. While whether Webb should ultimately be the team’s first round selection is debatable, he’d still be a clear upgrade over Brown, who’s no longer even with the Colts, which is the most telling sign.

Aug 22, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb (21) runs onto the field prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports