Bill Polian already has made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But maybe there’s an unknown higher level of the Hall into which he’s trying to nudge his bust.
Regardless, B.P. has instantly qualified for a spot in the B.S. Hall of Fame by suggesting that, 17 years ago, the Colts had a first-round grade on quarterback Tom Brady.
Asked by Sports Illustrated to name the quarterbacks he would have drafted if Peyton Manning weren’t on the roster, Polian had this to say after mentioning Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, via USA Today: “Tom Brady would have been a guy, and we were very high on him. Our guys really loved him, but we weren’t in the quarterback market, obviously. Those would be the guys I remember us giving solid, first-round, can-lead-you-to-a-championship grades.”
And so a guy who belongs to a very exclusive club of football achievement has instantly become a member of a far bigger group: Those who claim they knew Tom Brady was going to become Tom Brady.
Frankly, Polian is either lying or admitting to a moment of gross incompetence. The fact that the Colts had Manning, the first pick in 1998, didn’t preclude them from drafting a quarterback in 2000 at or before the Patriots got Brady at pick No. 199. In 2004, for example, Polian drafted quarterback Jim Sorgi with selection No. 193.
If Polian truly had a first-round grade on Brady, Polian should have drafted Brady. Not in the early rounds, obviously. By the time round four rolls around, however, who in their right mind would pass on a player with a first-round grade — unless the player picked instead also had a first-round grade?
For the Colts, it’s possibly that defensive tackle Josh Williams (No. 122 in round four) had a first-round grade, but he sure didn’t play like it. Ditto for guard Matt Johnson (No. 138 in round five), who never even appeared in a regular-season game.
Any time a player with a first-round grade slides, you take him. And if he ends up being better than the guy you currently have at the position, you play him or you trade him for more than you got him for.
Indeed, look at what the Patriots have done at the quarterback position during Brady’s career. They took Rohan Davey in round four of the 2002 draft, Kliff Kingsbury in round six a year later, Matt Cassel in round seven in 2005, Kevin O’Connell in round three three years later, Zac Robinson in round seven in 2010, Ryan Mallett in round three the following year, Jimmy Garoppolo in round two in 2014, and Jacoby Brissett in round three a year ago.
That’s eight quarterbacks drafted since 2002, despite the presence of Brady. And when Brady was drafted, the Patriots supposedly had a franchise quarterback in Drew Bledsoe.
Bottom line? If Polian truly believed that Brady was going to be a great player, Polian should have taken him at some point before the Patriots (a division rival at the time) got him with pick No. 199.