In an interview with SI.com's Doug Farrar, Polian was asked who the Colts might have eventually drafted if they didn't select Manning in 1998.
"Well, (Ben) Roethlisberger later on (in 2004) -- we were really high on him. Aaron Rodgers the year after," Polian said. "That's the only name that comes to mind right away. And I don't think there was a guy in between, but 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."
Asked Farrar: "You had a first-round grade on Brady? What did you like so much about him?"
"Brady was less of a slam-dunk, of course," Polian said. "Less of a known commodity than Peyton was. But he had such a great last half of his last season (at Michigan), and fought Drew Henson for the starter's job, and he really came on. I don't remember where we ultimately put him, but it was certainly a very high grade. We weren't in the quarterback business, and it wasn't going to be an issue for us, but it was a very high grade."
It's curious because the Colts, in this scenario, let a player with a first-round or "very high" grade pass through six rounds of the draft before New England snatched up Tommy.