Boring Draft May Just Be What the Indianapolis Colts Need
There are many questions that the majority of NFL fans will focus on between now and 2010 draft.
Will the Rams end the suspense and draft Sam Bradford?
Who will take a chance on Tim Tebow?
How far will Dez Bryant tumble down the board because of his checkered past?
The sexy picks in the draft are always skilled offensive players. Colts' fans that are holding out hope that Indianapolis will snag such a player early in the draft should probably make alternate plans for Thursday and Friday night.
On the surface, it's hard to argue with Bill Polian's success as GM of the Colts, especially when drafting skill players in the first round.
Since 1998, Polian has used seven picks on offensive skill positions. Five have made the Pro Bowl. Six are still with the team. The only one that is still not in a Colts' uniform is Edgerrin James, who had a tremendous career in Indianapolis before leaving after the 2005 season.
Success or not, the Colts have no reason to chase after a skill player, despite their need to find a consistent kick and punt returner.
But this shouldn't really come at a surprise. The Colts will enter the 2010 season with an amazing wealth of offensive talent. Anthony Gonzalez, missing for all of 2009 save for a few minutes in the opener, will return to give Peyton Manning another weapon to add to his already talented trio of receivers in Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie.
This doesn't even count Dallas Clark, a wide receiver in a tight end's body.
The passing game is in fine shape for next season. Any wide receiver drafter will surely come in the later rounds, and they'll be brought in primarily as a return man.
But what of the run game? Surely a unit that ended up dead last in the league could use an injection of new talent.
Though the rushing game struggled last year, the Colts have some talent at running back. Joseph Addai is an elusive runner, underrated blocker, and an excellent receiver. He may not make anyone forget about Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson, but he's the perfect back for the Colts system.
Behind him are Donald Brown and Mike Hart. Brown showed flashes of potential but was eventually slowed by injuries. Hart spent much of 2009 getting his legs back after a devastating knee injury in 2008. Both will enter this year healthy and will help improve the Colts' porous rushing totals.
No, Polian won't care about the whereabouts of the Tebows or Bryants of the draft. Instead, Polian will be busy in trenches, as the Colts are likely much of their picks over the three-day draft bolstering the offensive and defensive lines.
If the Colts should get lucky enough to have Mike Iupati or Maurkice Pouncey fall into their laps at the 31st pick in the draft, the Colts will happily snatched them up. Both are versatile linemen capable of playing multiple positions.
The Colts are a team in need of some talent along the line. The Colts let Ryan Lilja walk during the offseason. They've replaced him with journeymen players. Sure, last year's find, Kyle DeVan, played admirably during the season. But still, he was part of unit that was simply bad at run blocking. Even pass blocking, long the mainstay of a Colts' line, had moments of inconsistency.
Their best lineman, Jeff Saturday, will be 35 at the start of the season. Only Ryan Diem would be considered better than average out of the rest of the bunch. Yes, Charlie Johnson did a fine job replacing the underachieving Tony Ugoh, but if Johnson was dominant there wouldn't be talk of Ugoh getting another shot at the job this summer.
If anything, the play of the offensive line should be a testament of Howard Mudd's coaching. He took one possible Hall of Famer, one decent tackle, and whatever else he could fine and turned them into a solid pass blocking unit.
The trouble is, Mudd is now retired.
The other trouble is Polian's history of drafting linemen doesn't match his skill position success. Polian only drafted two of the five starters from last year. His two highest-drafted linemen, Ugoh and Mike Pollak, have both lost their starting positions, though Pollak has a chance to regain his with the departure of Lilja.
If Polian isn't concentrating on drafting offensive linemen, he's liable to focus on their defensive counterparts.
The Colts lost Raheem Brock to free agency this year and they will miss his versatility. The Colts will look to find a defensive end to help spell Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney on a rotational basis.
More importantly, the Colts will look to draft defensive tackles. Ed Johnson's troubles were finally enough for the Colts during the 2009 season. He was cut in midseason, the second time he had left the Colts in that fashion. After his release, the unit played well, but were far from spectacular. 2009 rookie Fili Moala was inactive for much of the season and is yet to prove his worth, but Polian will probably still choice to use a pick or two to help the unit out.
Polian hit home runs with later draft picks Jerraud Powers and Austin Collie. He hit another with undrafted free agent Jacob Lacey. He desperately needs to hit one of two for the lines this year. The Colts are built to win now, and a little help along the lines could make the Colts even better than they were last year.
So for Colts' fans, maybe a boring draft is just what you need. Such is the luxury of being the defending AFC champ.
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