2010 Indianapolis Colts Draft: Substance Over Style

Nick SouthCorrespondent IApril 25, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04:  Quarterback Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos passes the ball in the second half as Jerry Hughes #98 of the TCU Horned Frogs rushes in during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 The Rolling Stones once sung, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need."

 Those lyrics could apply to the way the Colts handled the 2010 draft.

 Locals were hoping to land a big play maker for the return game, someone like Notre Dame's Golden Tate. But there was no highly touted specialist taken, no flashy scat-back, not even a dual-threat Deion Sanders type.

 If there was ever a meat-and-potatoes draft, this was it.

 Now, I'm not the type that dishes out grades based on a draft. To me, you can grade a draft two ways. One is by short term impact. Looking at the Colts' 2009 draft, so far I'd give them a solid B+ because of finds like Jerraud Powers. You can also grade a draft on its long term impact. For example, the 2003 draft would have to get a very high grade because it produced Dallas Clark, Robert Mathis, and Cato June.

 The Colts draft in 2010 is not likely to garner any A's from the top media outlets. Without the glitz of a high ranking offensive specialist, the Colts' draft looks very boring on the surface. However, if you look at the draft and then look at what the Colts needs are, there's great potential for the 2010 class.

Bolster Defensive Line Rotation

 With the departure of Raheem Brock, the Colts found themselves in the market for a defensive end. Bill Polian has often cited that most of the losses in the playoffs have come when the tandem of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis has had its effectiveness hindered by injuries.

 The Colts addressed this need immediately by drafting TCU's Jerry Hughes in the first round. Hughes, who has a body type similar to Mathis', will give the Colts another quick end that has a history of getting to the QB (11.5 sacks in 2009).

 Now, the Colts will be able to rotate these three defensive ends into games, giving them a fresher pass rush in the fourth quarter when a game is on the line. One of the hidden differences in Super Bowl XLIV, was the Colts' inability to get to Drew Brees in the second half. Even without the loss of Brock, this may have been Polian's priority since the final whistle of the Super Bowl.

 Also added was Ricardo Matthews, a defensive tackles from Cincinnati drafted in round seven. Matthews gives the Colts another big (6'3'' 294 lbs) tackle to help strength the rotation in the middle of the line.

Improve the Running Game

 Perhaps the biggest surprise by the Colts was the fact that they didn't address offensive line needs until the final day of the draft. But even considering the long wait, the Colts appear to have gotten some good value in the draft's final rounds.

 The most intriguing pick, was that of Brody Eldridge, a tight end from Oklahoma. Regarded as perhaps the best blocking tight end, Eldridge seems like a pick that usually ends up in a place like Pittsburgh, not Indianapolis. But Eldridge's versatility could greatly enhance the Colts' rushing attack. Eldridge spent time at fullback, tight end, and even guard while with the Sooners.

 The Colts have a lot of possibilities in how they can use Eldridge. He could be used as a fullback in short yardage, or as an extra tight end to give the Colts some unbalanced line looks. It's been awhile since the Colts have had this type of player and it'll be interesting to see how Jim Caldwell's staff utilizes him.

 The Colts also nabbed Jacques McClendon, a massive guard from Tennessee. McClendon has the size to be the steamroller the Colts need to be more of a power running team.

Improve Defensive Depth

 While the defensive line needed players that fit into the rotation, the rest of the defense was searching for some much needed depth. The Colts already had some good starters in place, but little behind them.

 At linebacker, the Colts drafted a pair of players that may be short on size (both are listed at 6'0'') but have shown play making ability in college. Iowa's Pat Angerer was a key member of one of the country's best defenses. Clemson's Kavell Conner may not be as polished as Angerer, but it should be noted that NFL's draft analysis stated that both guys play bigger than they really are. The Colts have a history of getting more out of smaller linebackers than most teams (see career of Cato June).

 In the secondary, the Colts really needed to land another corner. Again, injuries in the Super Bowl allowed Brees to pick on guys like Tim Jennings (or as I call him, Mr. Ten Yard Cushion). The Colts are blessed with solid talent in the secondary. The addition of USC's Kevin Thomas could give the Colts a fourth quality corner, which would be a great asset in what's rapidly becoming a pass-happy league.

Find a Return Specialist

 At the end of the draft, the Colts picked Indiana's Ray Fisher. Though a cornerback by nature, it's likely Fisher was drafted because of his experience in the return game. He had two kickoff return touchdowns in 2009 and ended with an impressive average of 35 yards per return. He also spent some time returning points.

 Though he wasn't drafted, Florida's Brandon James was picked up as an undrafted free agent. The tiny James, listed as only 5'6'', could find a spot on the roster as an explosive returner.

 Polian's biggest pick as Colts GM will forever be Peyton Manning, but Polian gets his reputation because of the quality players he finds in the draft's later rounds. Mathis, Antoine Bethea, and Pierre Garcon were all found in fifth round or later. Early results show that 2009 was a successful draft for Polian and the Colts. If the organization can get the same production from the 2010 class, the Colts will have an excellent chance of defending their AFC Championship.