NFL Draft 2011: 6 Prospects the Colts Can Surround Peyton Manning With
Since drafting Peyton Manning in the 1998 draft, the Indianapolis Colts have continually tried to draft high quality offensive targets to surround him. From Edgerrin James in 1999, to Austin Collie and Donald Brown in 2009, the Colts have attempted to optimize Manning's abilities with high quality teammates.
In the 2011 draft, there are once again players that could be valuable assets to Manning and the Colts' potent offense. With six picks this year, one in each of the first six rounds, the Colts will have players that they can draft on offense to help the offense's efficiency.
Of course, as a Colts fan, I hope the Colts work the defensive side of the ball as well, but let's take a look at the best prospects in each round that the Colts could take offensively.
Round 1: OT Anthony Costanzo, Boston College
Most of the offensive prospects around the Colts' pick at 22 are offensive linemen, of which Anthony Castonzo would be the best fit for the Colts.
With Castonzo's work ethic, intelligence, and natural abilities, no other offensive lineman (save maybe Gabe Carimi) would be able to provide the initial impact that Castonzo can. His ability to both pass protect wonderfully, as well as be an adequate run blocker, would improve the Colts' offensive line tremendously.
Honorable Mentions: Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod, Nate Solder, Mark Ingram
Round 2: OG Rodney Hudson: Florida State
Once again, there are a solid number of offensive linemen at pick number 53, and if the Colts end up passing on an offensive lineman in the first, the second round would be an ideal place to pick one up.
Rodney Hudson would be a great pick up for the Colts interior line, especially if they failed to grab a tackle in the first round. Hudson's zone blocking experience would be especially helpful in his transition. Hudson's flexibilty (i.e. having played both center and guard) will also be great for the Colts, who often times shift players around on the line.
Honorable Mention: Marcus Cannon, Ben Ijalana, Jon Baldwin, Leonard Hankerson, James Carpenter
Round 3: WR Titus Young:
Again, more offensive linemen dominate the possibilities, but if Young slipped to the Colts' third rounder, they'd be hard pressed to pass him up.
Young has that breakaway speed that allows him to stretch the field, which allows players like Austin Collie and Dallas Clark to exploit the middle. Young's speed, crisp routes would make him an ideal receiver for the Colts. Young could possibly even develop into a starting role.
Honorable Mentions: Stephen Wisniewski, Will Rackley, Edmond Gates
Round 4: WR Denarius Moore, Tennessee
The theme of these prospects seems to be offensive linemen, but there are many players who would fit perfectly on the Colts in different areas. Once such player would be Denarius Moore.
Moor has soft hands, as the Colts love, and is a very disciplined route runner, with experience he could be a top option. He'd be another consistent deep threat to keep the middle of the field empty.
Honorable Mentions: Zack Hurd, Derrick Locke
Round 5: WR Austin Pettis, Boise State
This past year, Austin Collie was one of the most productive WR's in the NFL when he was healthy. When Collie went down with a concussion, the offense's efficiency dropped. The Colts have always flourished with a solid slot receiver, and Collie fulfilled that role perfectly.
Pettis has actually been mentioned as a reminder of Austin Collie, a good sign for an aspiring possession receiver. Pettis has an uncanny ability to find holes in zone coverages, and tracks the moving ball extremely well. He would be a great value if he dropped all the way to 5th round.
Honorable Mentions: Vincent Brown, Keith Williams
Round 6: OT Chris Hairston, Clemson
Another OT caps off the look at offensive prospects. Chris Hairston was a two-time All-ACC left tackle for Clemson during his career, and has a lot of mobility for such a big guy.
At 6-7, 333 lbs, Hairston may be able to be moved inside if he doesn't work out at tackle. Either way, he would provide more depth to an oft-injured Colts' offensive line. Although his technique is sloppy, he still managed well in college, and looks to be improved in the coming years.
Honorable Mention: Evan Royster, Jeff Maehl