As usual, the Colts made few headlines with their draft. Team President Bill Polian and Coach Tony Dungy clearly had the offensive line in mind, as they took three interior linemen and two tight-ends.
The defense got a couple contributors as well, but the offense got seven of the nine picks after their depth was tested at all positions due to injuries in 2007.
Second Round: Mike Pollak—G/C Arizona State
A very typical Colts O-Lineman. He's a smart, heady player and uses his technique more than his power to get the job done. He's also versatile. He played both guard and center in college. He needs to hit the weight room and get a little stronger to handle the better defensive tackles in the league.
Pollak will more than likely start at the RG spot opened up after Jake Scott left via free agency, and Dylan Gandy was cut. He will also serve as C Jeff Saturday's primary back-up.
Third Round: Philip Wheeler—LB Georgia Tech
Wheeler could play a number of positions for the Colts. He's a good blitzer and pass rusher, which leads me to believe me may play some DE. As a LB at Georgia Tech, he had a tendency to be over-aggressive and overrun plays.
He also plays a little soft, and doesn't like to take on blockers. Wheeler often gets pushed around too easily. He also lacks good coverage instincts. In the Colts Tampa-2, the LBs have to be good in coverage.
My guess is that Wheeler plays a lot of special teams and provides depth at defensive end and as a situational pass-rusher.
Fourth Round: Jacob Tamme—TE Kentucky
After cutting Bryon Fletcher, the Colts had only one TE on the roster, so they drafted two. Tamme is very undersized, and will more than likely be a Chris Cooley-type H-back or move out to WR.
He's not a very good blocker, and he also has durability issues. He is a good receiver, runs good routes, and has good hands. I don't see Tamme developing quickly enough to fill the No. 2 TE spot.
As often as the Colts run two TE sets, he could see the field a lot this year. I expect him to be a good special teamer as well.
Fifth Round: Marcus Howard—DE/OLB Georgia
Another typical Colts pick—very fast and a bit undersized, Howard fits right into the Robert Mathis mold. He will have to add some bulk to play defensive line after being a LB in college.
Howard will provide good depth at DE, which proved to be the weak link in the Colts' defense after Dwight Freeney went down in 2007. He'll also play on coverage teams.
Sixth Round: Tom Santi—TE Virginia
Another TE, since the Colts only have one on the roster. He's a better blocker than Tamme, but not as good of a receiver. Santi has good hands and is a good route runner, but lacks top-end speed. At 6'4", he provides a big target for Peyton Manning to go to when he's in trouble. He reminds me a lot of Ben Utecht, who left via free agency, though Utecht was a better blocker.
I think Santi will beat out Tamme for the No. 2 TE spot in two TE sets with Dallas Clark.
Sixth Round: Steven Justice—C Wake Forest
Justice is a good pass blocker, but struggles in run blocking. He doesn't show much lower body strength, and isn't much of a drive-blocker. As a center, he will get manhandled by bigger DTs. He may actually be a bit of a project player.
Justice will provide depth at G/C.
Sixth Round: Mike Hart—RB Michigan
Hart is a hard runner who lacks top end speed. He'll get the tough yards, and isn't afraid to take a hit. The former Wolverine has good hands out of the backfield, and is a good route runner as a RB. Though vastly undersized to be the kind of workhorse back he was at Michigan, he has been compared to former Colts RB James Mungro.
Hart will fill the backup spot behind Joseph Addai, and will be a an improvement over Kenton Keith, who will slide to the No. 3 spot.
Sixth Round: Pierre Garcon—WR Mount Union
Garcon is a good jump-ball receiver, despite being a little short. He's also a good route runner who adjusts well to bad passes, and will run over the middle. He also has experience as a returner, adding to his ability to make things happen after the catch. makes things happen after the catch. The major flag is that he played DIII ball, and could have problems adjusting to the speed of the NFL.
Garcon could battle T.J. Rushing for return duties, but will probably end up on the practice squad for a year.
I think he has a chance to be a good slot receiver eventually, as WRs often have the biggest learning curve from the college-to-NFL jump. Think Brandon Stokely.
Seventh Round: Jamey Richard—C Buffalo
The Colts end their draft the same way they began it—with an interior lineman. Richard has some technique issues, like keeping his pads too high, but Line Coach Howard Mudd will take care of those. Richard has adequate size, but needs to work on lower body strength. I think he will be a solid player if he improves his strength and technique.
For now, he will provide depth along the interior O-line, if he makes the roster. There's a chance he could sit on the practice squad for a year.
Overall, it was a solid draft. Howard, Richard, and Garcon could be diamonds in the rough. I think that Tamme was drafted too soon. I like that they took three offensive linemen, but I would have liked to have seen a tackle drafted, as they have little depth behind Tony Ugoh and Ryan Diem at OT.
At least two opening day starters came from this draft (Pollak, Santi/Tamme). Howard and Wheeler will also play in the D-line rotation. I could also see three of the draftees being cut in camp.
The draft is also a main source for special teams guys. The Colts drafted at least three, possibly six players who won't play special teams. Little was done to improve the coverage teams, which are an annual weakness for the Colts.