Bill Polian: Colts had first-round grade on Tom Brady

Bill Polian was enshrined last month into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

During his career, the vastly successful general manager turned the Bills, Panthers and Colts into winners. His induction into Canton certainly was helped by the career of Peyton Manning, but Polian revealed this week that Indianapolis also had eyes on another quarterback.

In an interview with'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.

For a Colts team that seamlessly went from Manning to Andrew Luck, the idea of Brady joining the group seems downright unfair to 31 other teams. Polian, though, will always be remembered for correctly taking Peyton over Ryan Leaf. Had that gone the other way, he might still be waiting on Canton.

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