With The 31st Pick In The NFL Draft, The Indianapolis Colts Select...

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With The 31st Pick In The NFL Draft, The Indianapolis Colts Select...
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Offensive tackle from the Baltimore Ravens: Jared Gaither.

Offensive tackles are at a premium in the NFL.  Take a look at the last few years of the draft and you'll find a ton (literally) of offensive linemen drafted in the first round.  Last year two of the top five picks were offensive tackles.  Two years ago, Jake Long, offensive tackle from Michigan, went number one overall.  With that kind of emphasis on protecting the quarterback- it's hard to believe that no one's made a move for Jared Gaither.

At 6'9 and 340 pounds this guy is a beast.  He's a big guy, but he's got no problem getting down in his stance and firing off the snap.  His footwork is exceptional and he's quick enough to beat speed rushers to the edge on pass plays. Plus, he learned from Jonathan Ogden, arguably one of the best offensive linemen to ever play the game.

Of course, there is the question: why do the Ravens want to trade him?  Well I can think of one reason, his name is Michael Oher.  The rookie from Ole Miss started on the right side, but was outstanding taking care of Joe Flacco's "Blind Side" after Gaither injured his neck in a loss to the Patriots on October 4.

There's also been some concern about his work ethic.  Actually that's been an issue of his since he was in college at Maryland.  He started eight games as a true freshman (all at left tackle) without allowing a sack.  He started all twelve games as a sophomore and the Terps had the second lowest sack total (19) in the ACC, but then academic problems crept up on him.  He was declared academically ineligible in 2007 and entered the supplemental draft.  The Ravens took him in the fifth round. 

Even with his issues the Colts could really use him.  Bill Polian admitted that the Saints defensive line outplayed them.  They've already signed Andy Alleman from the Chiefs in an effort to get bigger and better on the right side, but what about Peyton's blind side.  Charlie Johnson played well, but he's not a franchise left tackle.  Jared Gaither is—and he could step in on day one and help this team.

To get Gaither, the Colts will probably have to give up their first round pick.  That's a pretty steep price, except, who else are they going to get at thirty one?  The first tier offensive tackles will be gone, so maybe Charles Brown (USC) slips to them.  Some mock drafts have them reaching for Rodger Saffold (Indiana).  Those guys could be pretty good, but do you really want a rookie protecting Peyton Manning from Mario Williams and Aaron Kampman?

Sure they could go defense.  Maybe Kareem Jackson (cornerback, Alabama) or Brian Price (defensive tackle, UCLA) will be there when they pick, but the Colts were in the Super Bowl last year.  They're ready to win now—not in a few years after these guys develop.

One last thing.  I know the Colts like to build through the draft.  That's because they like young players who have their whole career ahead of them.  Jared Gaither is twenty four.  He's actually four months younger than Austin Collie.

 

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