Indianapolis Colts 2011 NFL Draft: A Step-by-Step Guide to Offseason Success
Step 1: Draft a lineman with the first pick.
Step 2: Draft a lineman with the second pick.
Step 3. Draft a lineman with the third pick.
It seems pretty simple really.
The Colts are a talented team. Forget what Mel Kiper said about how "The Colts would be one of the worst teams in the NFL without Peyton Manning." The Colts have talent.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are pretty good if I recall correctly. As are Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Joe Addai and Gary Brackett are starters if not significant contributors for almost ever team and Jacob Lacey, Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden form one of the NFL's best young secondaries.
Oh and don't forget about Peyton.
But talent at the glamorous skill positions only goes so far in the playoffs. Come January, the teams that win are the teams that have talent in the trenches. For years the Colts have lacked elite offensive linemen or dominant defensive tackles, which might explain why the Colts posted the most regular season wins ever in a decade, but only have one Lombardi Trophy to show for it.
Now its true, the Colts don't typically draft offensive lineman or defensive tackles in the early rounds. In fact, in 13 seasons with Bill Polian as the GM and draft guru, the Colts' have never drafted either in the first round.
The last offensive tackle that the Colts drafted was Tarik Glenn, which given he was selected to numerous pro bowls seemed to have worked out quite well. Yet he is long gone, so after a 13 year absence, it is time to revisit the strategy.
Signs indicate that even the stubborn Bill Polian seems to be coming around to the idea that the Colts can't win if Peyton doesn't have time to throw and Addai has no holes to run through. With a deep draft class of both quality offensive lineman and defensive tackles, look for the Colts to go big and finally fill the gaping holes (big enough for opposing RB's to run right through).
On the offensive side of the ball, the Colts most pressing need is left tackle. Charlie Johnson filled in and played out of position admirably, but he is better suited for right side of the line.
Therefore look for the Colts to target one of four players in the first round.
The top offensive line prospect is Gabe Camiri out of Wisconsin. Unfortunately few expect him to be available when the Colts pick at 22.
Other promising candidates include Anthony Castonzo from BC, Tyron Smith from USC and Nate Solder from Colorado. Smith projects more as a right tackle meaning the decision will probably boil down to either Solder and Castonzo.
While either would be the upgrade the Colts' desperately need, Castonzo seems to be more NFL ready, an important factor considering Peyton's advancing age.
In the second round, the Colts will look to the opposite side of the line. Desperate for a strong, tough run-stopper to shore up their 25th ranked rush defense, the Colts' front office has to be giddy Stephen Paea's slip down recent draft boards.
If the Colts could snag both Castonzo and Oregon State's DT Paea, Indianapolis would fulfill their two biggest needs right off the bat.
In the third round the Colts should go back to the offensive line to address the guard position. While the Colts have high hopes for last year's fourth round pick Jacques McClendon, the Colts need to upgrade the left guard spot currently anchored by Kyle Devan.
Florida State's edgy and athletic Rodney Hudson is the perfect fit to open up the running lanes while still keeping Mr. Manning nice and clean.
Such a draft strategy would be a significant departure from years past, but ask anyone in Indianapolis what is needed and they will tell you: linemen, linemen and more linemen.
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