Filling the Stable: What the Colts might look like in 2010
The Colts are definitely not staring the future in the face right now (since it probably includes San Diego, I wouldn't either) but I was wondering the other day about the roster and I decided to put it into a slideshow.
I'm going to talk about the draft (not specific round by round pickings, just people of interest), possible offseason releases/additions to and from free agency, and even the offensive and defensive looks (starters and what not).
The 2010 Draft
I think the main positions that the Colts need to draft are:
SS (or a DB who can be converted)
Offensive Line - Ah where to begin...The Colts need some serious truckers up front. The current line does fine in pass protection, but that's mainly because of Manning's quick release. Run blocking is much more aggressive than pass protection, which explains why the O - Line appears to be good at pass protection while they seem to struggle in run blocking. Some added youth on the line would either promote competition, or simply find replacements for the inadequate. The organization already knows this, and drafted Thomas in the 09 draft.
Prospectives: Russell Okung, Trent Williams, Mike Johnson
Linebacker - The Colts' linebackers are definitely an underrated crew and have been pretty solid this year (especially Gary Brackett), but as the injury to Hagler showed, they are not men of steel. Wheeler has filled in admirably, but more depth is required. The Colts also lack a stud pass rushing Linebacker (Session has 0.5, Bracket has 1 and Wheeler has 1). Coyer has thrown in more blitzes this year, but the sacks have still mainly gone to Freeney and Mathis. With the more aggressive style of defense being played, the Colts will have to draft players with more aggressive styles.
Prospectives (the Colts most likely won't get any of these, as plenty of teams will be drafting defense ahead of the Colts):
Brandon Spikes, Sean Witherspoon, Roland McClain, Travis Lewis
Fullback - As most all Colts fans know, the Colts have no true fullback. Gijon Robinson, Jacob Tamme and even Keyunta Dawson (correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he was the backup DE who plays fullback) have played the position but lack the size and power of a true bruiser. With the addition of a fullback, the running game would surely improve. It would also provide a more reliable option in short yardage situations and spread the carries.
Prospectives - Toby Gerhart, Charles Scott
Strong Safety (or a big defensive back) - Yes Melvin Bullitt has been great in place of Bob Sanders (Pats game anyone?) but he can be injured too (and was in the Denver game). Since Sanders' status is always iffy, more depth at the safety position would be welcome.
Prospectives - Eric Berry, Taylor Mays, Joe Haden, Javier Arenas
Of course the positions (and prospects) are all personal opinion, but I think all of them would help. For each position I merely listed the "studs" who were entering the draft, but based on round placement, the Colts will most likely get only one of all the athletes I mentioned.
Last season's roster changes were evidence that we have to expect the unexpected when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts. Many expected the release of Marvin Harrison to be a disastrous move for the organization, but it actually allowed Manning to spread the ball around more. I don't expect the Colts to do much in the offseason (they rarely sign people who they didn't draft) but they might shore up some holes.
Matt Stover - With Vinatieri coming back from knee surgery, Stover will most likely be cut. There will be no need for him as honestly, Vinatieri is a better kicker in every way.
Mike Hart - Addai has gotten his mojo back this season, Brown has shown why he was drafted in the first round and Chad Simpson can scamper like the best in the league, as well as return kicks. Hart may be left for sheer depth, but four running backs is a lot. He will probably remain on the practice squad.
Hank Baskett - With the return of Anthony Gonzalez, Baskett will probably be cut. If the Colts draft a wideout (which they may, depending on their belief in the health of their current pass - catchers) Baskett will almost definitely be cut. Otherwise, he has a chance at staying.
The Colts will continue to use their No - Huddle as they have for years, but I see a few wrinkles in the mix.
If they draft a fullback, they may put him in some of the no - huddle sets just to add versatility and force defenses to respect the run. If they don't, I see the Colts utilizing Chad Simpson's talents more and more. In his two long TD scampers against the Rams and Texas, Simpson displayed great speed and elusiveness. He's a completely different runner than either Addai or Brown and would provide a great change of pace. Right now, he reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles and with Sproles' recent success, I think Simpson could be a great weapon.
Secondly, I think Pierre Garcon will be firmly entrenched as the starter opposite Wayne. He is a great deep threat and is now capable of demanding double teams to draw coverage away from the other weapons in the offense. He will definitely be more involved in the screen game (he has remarkable talent in it, just look at his touchdown against miami).
Finally, I think Brown may eventually become the co - starter alongside Addai. They have very similar running styles and sharing carries may improve them both, as neither performs best as a workhorse.
Larry Coyer's defense this year is a definite improvement over last year. The Colts' recent struggles of late have mainly been because of the abscence of Jackson and Hayden in pass coverage.The Colts had to face the Patriots and the Broncos without either Hayden or Jackson and still managed to win those games with rookies starting, but I think that Hayden will still have the starting spot. Jackson has a habit of being injured, so I don't know what'll happen to him. As for Tim Jennings...anyone know where he is? The last time I saw him was when he was playing a deep zone against the run...
I think the depth chart will remain similar, with Hayden returning and possibly a new linebacker emerging, either Wheeler or a stud from the draft.
With the way the defense is playing (while healthy) I don't see any major changes being done to the schemes. Maybe a few new looks now and then, a Linebacker Prowl on 3rd down or a new formation to trick offenses.