Let me say it before you do: I know it's early. There will be plenty of time for this later. I know.
That said, we as fans can look past the right now and into the future. After all, we all want to see the Colts in another Super Bowl, right? Not to mention that Bill Polian is already waist-deep in scouting information on draft prospects.
I will not attempt to guess what players the Colts will take; Polian has proved me a fool too many times for me to even try that. Rather, I'll look at the team position by position, and look at where I think we may need to draft.
Current Players: Peyton Manning, Jim Sorgi, Curtis Painter
Peyton Manning will be here for another five to 10 years. He's 33 now, and I personally think he'll play into his 40s. That means it's still way too early for QB of the future talk. Curtis Painter will return as a back up, and Jim Sorgi may stay for another year as well.
I feel fairly confident in saying the Colts will not invest a draft pick in a QB.
Current Players: Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Mike Hart, Chad Simpson
Addai still has a year left on his contract, and they may try to extend him. Brown is having a decent rookie year. Hart may be the second-best third RB in the league, behind Tashard Choice in Dallas. Simpson is primarily a return man, but does have a TD run this year late in the Rams game.
Unless Hart doesn't return, I would be surprised to see even a late-round pick used on a back.
Current Players: Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Hank Baskett, Sam Giguere, Anthony Gonzalez (IR)
The Colts are deeper here than anywhere else on the field. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Gonzalez traded for the right price, though I don't see the Colts actively pursuing a trade. Baskett's contract is up after this year, and I'd give him about a 30 percent chance to return. It will either be him or Giguere as the fifth receiver next year, and Giguere can return kicks.
I don't know Garcon's contract situation, but I believe he has one year left, and may get an extension this offseason. Wayne, Collie, and Gonzalez are under contract for the foreseeable future.
Again, I feel pretty confident in saying that the Colts aren't using many resources scouting receivers. I'd be stunned if we drafted one at all. The exception would be a return man who plays receiver.
Current Players: Dallas Clark, Gijon Robinson, Jacob Tamme, Colin Cloherty, Tom Santi (IR)
Clark is among the best in the league. Robinson is a good blocker and the primary second TE. Tamme is a good receiver, as is Santi. Cloherty was signed mid-season and has not yet been active.
Current Players: Charlie Johnson, Ryan Lilja, Jeff Saturday, Kyle DeVan, Ryan Diem, Mike Pollak, Tony Ugoh, Jamey Richard, Micheal Toudouze, Daniel Federkeil (IR)
Saturday and Diem are aging, and Diem could be replaced. Ugoh and Pollak were drafted to start in the second round in '07 and '08, respectively. Of the starting five linemen, two were undrafted, one was a fifth round pick, another was a sixth, and the last claimed off waivers. Huge props to Howard Mudd and Pete Metzlaars for coaching these guys up and getting the most out of them.
I think they have given up on Ugoh. They'll work with Pollack because they want him to replace Saturday eventually.
I would expect to see several offensive linemen become Colts on draft day. Both tackles can be upgraded, and a replacement for Saturday is a necessity.
Current Players: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Keyunta Dawson, Raheem Brock, Ervin Baldwin, Daniel Muir, Antonio Johnson, Eric Foster, Fili Moala, John Gill
Freney and Mathis are excellent, but injury prone because of their size. Brock and Dawson have filled in well, and both have experience playing inside as well.
Muir, Johnson, and Foster have improved tremendously in the last year at tackle. Moala was drafted in the second round last year to upgrade the line, but was disappointing as a rookie.
Baldwin and Gill will probably not come back unless they are on the practice squad.
Mel Kiper had us taking an end in the first round. I do think we could use another end, but one with enough size to move inside on passing downs a la Justin Tuck. However, the Colts found ways to get their best pass rushers on the field, using Brock as a stand-up blitzer quite a bit. You can never have enough pass rushers. I expect an end at some point and wouldn't be stunned to see a tackle taken later as well.
Gary Brackett, Clint Session, Philip Wheeler, Ramon Humber, Freddy Keiaho, Cody Glenn, Tyjuan Hagler (IR)
Brackett is the leader of the defense. His contract is up, but the Colts will franchise him if they have to in order to keep him. Look for him to get a contract extension. Session is a huge playmaker and will start as well. Wheeler replaced Hagler after he went on IR and has played well, but nothing special. Keiaho has starting experience and is the primary back up to all three spots. Glenn and Humber are special teamers. Hagler and Keiaho may not return because they were on one-year contracts this year.
I expect at least one linebacker to come in on draft day. Polian is great at finding outside linbackers late in the draft.
Antoine Bethea, Melvin Bullitt, Jaime Silva, Aaron Francisco, Bob Sanders (IR), Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers, Jacob Lacey, Tim Jennings, TJ Rushing, Marlin Jackson (IR)
Bethea is a restricted free agent assuming there is no new CBA by March. He is a rising star and must be signed long-term. Bullitt has played great replacing Sanders the last two years. Silva and Francisco are special teamers.
Powers and Lacey had outstanding rookie campaigns and will be back. Lacey may need to be re-signed, since he was probably on a one-year deal as an undrafted free agent. Hayden missed time, but has played well. Jennings will probably be cut. Rushing is here as a return man. Jackson is a free agent, but since he was injured, will probably come back on a one-year deal. If he returns along with Sanders, the Colts may have the deepest secondary in the league.
Polian may take a DB late for special teams purposes, but I wouldn't expect one before the fifth round.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri, Matt Stover
Punter: Pat McAfee
Returners: Chad Simpson, TJ Rushing
Stover is one of the older players in the league, and his contract is up. Vinatieri has been injured all year and has only one year remaining on his deal. I could see us keeping either of them, or letting them both go and going for a younger leg. I tend to lean toward keeping Stover. He has limited range, but is very reliable.
McAfee handles kickoffs and punts and has done great on both this year.
Simpson and Rushing are not even adequate return men, and need upgraded, though it seems low on Polian's list of priorities.
This is a team with no glaring holes headed into next season, assuming Brackett and Bethea are re-signed. That will allow Polian to select the best available player, no matter where they play. I would expect him to trade down as much as possible, collecting future picks and more picks later in the draft.
The primary concern has to be the offensive line, but Polian missed on linemen twice in the second round, so I wouldn't expect another high pick there unless they trade up into the top of the first round to get a tackle.
Secondary concern is the defensive line, mainly gathering depth, knowing you'll have guys get banged up. A better second TE could also be in play.
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