Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Indianapolis Colts

A teams ultimate success is measured in Super Bowl victories. In the last decade the Colts have only one. But if you look at their overall body of work, you'll see a team just as dominant as the Patriots and Steelers. Since the 1999 season Indianapolis has amassed 114 wins (to only 46 losses), six division titles (five straight from '03 through '07), six straight seasons with 12 or more wins (2003 through 2008), and a Super Bowl title (XLI). New England and Pittsburgh are routinely mentioned as the best teams of the new millennium but Indianapolis deserves equal praise.

The Colts have become synonymous with offense (though New Orleans is making a good case of late) thanks to Peyton Manning and his stable of WRs. It doesn't hurt that pretty much any RB can do what the scheme dictates; a superstar is not needed. And it was perfectly clear after last season that passing is all that matters (if it wasn't already clear) as the Colts were 31st in rushing yards per game. The running game rarely worked, no matter who was running the ball. But you have Manning so who cares? The Colts were 5th in passing yards per game. Their lack of rushing game dropped their total yards average to 15th in The League. The offense wasn't as explosive as it had been in recent years, putting up 23.6 points per game (13th). Fortunately they didn't have to be. Even though Indianapolis gets a bad rap on 'D' they actually have a pretty formidable unit. They allowed only 18.6 points per game (7th) and 6th and 11th respectively in passing and total yards allowed per game. Their downfall, as it has been recently, was in the running game. They can't stop it, surrendering over 120 yards on the ground per game (24th).

Tony Dungy is gone, after contemplating retirement for some time. Jim Caldwell replaces him, as had been announced a year before Dungy's retirement. Caldwell inherits a strong team capable of competing as long as Peyton Manning is under center. However, to win another Super Bowl Caldwell and his coaches must fix the running game on both sides of the ball.

1/27/27 - Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
2/24/56 - Fili Moala, DT, USC
3/28/92 - Jerraud Powers, CB, Auburn
4/27/127 - Austin Collie, WR, BYU
4/36/136 - Terrance Taylor, DT, Michigan
6/28/201 - Curtis Painter, QB, Purdue
7/13/222 - Pat McAfee, P, West Virginia
7/27/236 - Jaimie Thomas, OT, Maryland

  • DL - Check!
  • WR - Check!
  • LB - Try again.
  • RB - Check!
Four offensive players, four defensive players, and one specialist. Seems to be the norm for the Colts. They addressed their biggest needs - DT, RB, WR - and added a new punter (who can also kick) plus some depth at CB and OT. It would have been nice to get a LB somewhere in there. Overall solid in filling holes. For their sake I hope the DTs can play early and often.

GRADE: 90/100

Pick 1 - Should RB have been the #1 priority for the Colts? They needed some quality depth behind Joseph Addai as he proved last year he couldn't stay healthy. Dominic Rhodes is gone once again. Can second year man Mike Hart be the guy? Apparently not. With Evander Hood still on the board I have to question this pick. Solid backup/complementary RBs can easily be found in rounds two and three. Potential impact DTs are less likely. Grade: 7

Pick 2 - Now they fill their DT need. Moala was once considered a first round pick but a lack of production, strength concerns, and minor character issues dropped him down the board. Moala, cousin of Ravens Haloti Ngata, is perfect for the quick defense the Colts employ. He rarely has to shed blocks because of his speed and play recognition skills. If he gets caught in a double team or reading the play incorrectly though he's doomed. He needs some work but could be a good one. Grade: 9

Pick 3 - Powers is the type of CB the Colts love. Undersized but quick with good cover skills. However I must ask why? They have upwards of 20 DBs on their roster now. Was Powers really a necessity? He won't start over Kelvin Hayden or Marlin Jackson and I'd bet Dante Hughes, Tim Jennings, and T.J. Rushing all have better chances at being the nickel or dime backs. Where does Powers fit? He may have more upside and, in a season or two, could push for the nickel spot but why now? Couldn't a LB have been selected here? Grade: 4

Pick 4 - Marvin Harrison was finally released after wearing down the last few years. Collie could become a fitting replacement. He doesn't have blazing speed but has good size and hands to work next to Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez. If he can learn the offense quickly he may start the season as the #3 or 4 guy. Grade: 9

Pick 5 - Doubling up on DTs was a good move. The rushing defense was once again terrible in 2008 and they lost a starting DT as well as kicked one of them to the curb at the beginning of last season. Of course Ed Johnson was brought back recently. He could pair with the rookies and form a young and growing DT rotation. Grade: 8

Pick 6 - The Purdue QB was considered by some to be one of the five best QBs in college prior to last season. Following the season no one thought that. Painter, when healthy, was a disaster for the Boilermakers. He showed nothing during the season. Fortunately with Manning always healthy and Sorgi seeming as the life time backup, Painter can focus on taking down UDFA Chris Crane for the 3rd QB spot. Painter may have the tools to usurp Sorgi in a few years and become a competent #2. He has a long way to go. Grade: 6

Pick 7 - I don't like drafting specialists but, out of necessity, the Colts went with West Virginia's McAfee. They lost their punter and needed a new one; I get it. It's nice that McAfee could kick too if something ever happens to Vinatieri. Good pick for need but undrafted specialists can perform just as well - or better - than drafted ones. Grade: 6

Pick 8 - The tackle from Maryland provides some added flexibility to the OL. He can play OT or OG. He's been listed as a guard but based on depth at tackle he may see time there as well. The only better pick would have nee Trevor Canfield. I like young OL depth so Thomas was a decent pick. Grade: 7

GRADE: 56/80


They needed help at DT and got it. They found a complementary RB and a WR to assume the role vacated by Marvin Harrison. They added a new punter. Wonderful. Did the RB have to be in round one? Why any CBs? Where was a LB? They did some good things and some bad things. For them the good outweighed the bad and formed a solid class addressing most of their needs.


WHY: I would have arranged the picks differently myself but, in the end, they were able to fill most of their needs with solid players. Not really any major reaches. A LB would have been nice over a CB though. Don't know if they needed to draft Painter, as he may have been available as a UDFA, such as Crane.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Moala
Worst Pick: McAfee
Sleeper: Collie
Instant Impact: Brown
Developmental: Taylor

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Indianapolis Colts
CBS Sports (Prisco): B+
CBS Sports (Rang): B
ESPN (Kiper): C+ (Brooks): C+ (Fan's): B
Walter: A



No comments: