Colts Draft: Never Question Bill Polian
I often chuckle at the amount of time people spend whining about how you can't accurately evaluate the draft immediately. We know that. We also don't know exactly who is going to do what in each season, but that doesn't stop us from giving preseason predictions or fantasy football advice. Sometimes you just have to have a little bit of intestinal fortitude and put yourself out there. The reader demand is there, so we'll provide the supply.
One of the few cases (along with teams like the Steelers and Patriots) where it's probably not a good idea to say anything bad, though, is when it comes to Bill Polian and the Colts.
The man's first order of business when taking over the Colts was to get rid of Jim Harbaugh -- a fan favorite at the time -- and then draft Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf. Next season, he traded Marshall Faulk and replaced him by drafting Edgerrin James. Beginning in that 1999 season (Edge's rookie season), the Colts have won at least 10 games in every season but one -- a 6-10 mark in 2001, the only time in that stretch they've missed the playoffs. They've won at least 12 games in each of the past six seasons.
My resume in the field? Well, it's blank. So I'm not about to sit here and question what Polian's done in the draft. We'll go through and assess how well he filled the team's needs, but take it with a grain of salt. We are, after all, supposed to be having fun (I don't think people do enough of that on the internet anymore, in this "I'm smarter than you" age).
The first round looked like an obvious defensive tackle or wide receiver pick. We know Polian's past history of picking DTs in the first round is pretty nonexistent. He believes there is better value later in drafting the position. Still, it was the biggest hole on his team. Receiver seemed likely with the departure of Marvin Harrison and Polian's penchant for keeping Manning's arsenal of playmakers full.
And Polian threw us a curve. It was a pretty good one, though. The Colts rushing offense was pretty lackluster in 2009, and now Dominic Rhodes is gone. Donald Brown of Connecticut has the skills to be an every-down NFL back.
At tackle, Polian stuck to his m.o. He grabbed Fili Moala of USC in the second round and Terrance Taylor of Michigan in the fourth round. Adding this depth to the middle of the defensive line should help the annually-maligned Colts run defense. A full season of Bob Sanders, along with continued development of Melvin Bullitt and Clint Session couldn't hurt either.
The Colts only drafted one receiver, but he seems to fill a nice need. Austin Collie of BYU was also selected in the fourth round. The 6-foot-2 Collie isn't very fast, but he's a polished route-runner with great hands. He seems to fit as the team's possession receiver opposite Reggie Wayne -- at least eventually -- which would enable Anthony Gonzalez to remain in the slot. Also keep in mind the Colts have one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league in Dallas Clark.
An interesting pick is the selection of Purdue's Curtis Painter in the sixth round. The Colts haven't carried a third quarterback in recent memory because Manning never leaves the field. This pick could either signal their desire to further protect against the 33 year-old's health, or their belief Jim Sorgi isn't an able backup.
1 (27) Brown, RB, Connecticut
2 (56) Moala, DT, USC
3 (92) Jerraud Powers, CB, Auburn
4 (127) Collie, WR, BYU
4 (136) Taylor, DT, Michigan
6 (201) Painter, QB, Purdue
7 (222) Patrick McAfee, K, West Virginia [Edit: He was a kicker and punter at WVU, and the Colts plan on having him punt -- my mistake]
7 (236) Jaimie Thomas, OT, Maryland
GRADE: A-. Hey, I'm not questioning him. It's a great grade. Just didn't want to give a A. Sue me.