NFL Draft Focus: Indianapolis Colts

Colts beat writer Phil Wilson of the Indianapolis Star talks offseason agenda for the AFC South champs. Peyton Manning and Co. went 10-6 to capture their seventh division title in eight years in 2010 and will pick 22nd overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.


Total Yards:          4th (380.8)

Rushing Yards:     29th (92.7)

Passing Yards:    1st (288.1)

Points Scored:    4th (27.2)


Total Yards:         20th (341.6)

Rushing Yards:    25th (127.0)

Passing Yards:    13th (214.6)

Points Allowed:    23rd (24.3)

Interceptions:       T-30th (10)

Sacks:                24th (30)


Passing Yards:    Peyton Manning (4,700)

Rushing Yards:    Donald Brown (497)

Receiving Yards:  Reggie Wayne (1,355)

Sacks:                Robert Mathis (11)

Interceptions:       3 tied (2)

Tackles:              Antoine Bethea (106)


2010 Jerry Hughes, DE (2010 stats: 12
tackles in 6 games)

2009 Donald Brown, RB (2010 stats: 497
rush yds., 2 TD)

2008 No first-round selection

2007 Anthony Gonzalez, WR (2010 stats:
5 rec., 67 yds. in 2 games)

2006 Joseph Addai, RB* (2010 stats: 495
rush yds., 4 TD)

*Pro Bowler.

DA:    What do you feel is the number one area of need for the Colts to
address in the 2011 Draft, and do any names in particular come to mind?

PW:    No question, it’s offensive tackle. I know they could use another wide
receiver, running back, defensive tackle and safety, but what team
couldn’t? The most pressing need is offensive tackle, because left
tackle Charlie Johnson is really a decent guard and right tackle Ryan
Diem has a year left on his contract and showed some of his age this
past season with some shaky moments. I don’t know if the Colts bring
Diem back. As for specific players, I haven’t looked at it yet. But
take a look at the biggest, strongest offensive tackles available, and
the Colts should be taking someone high off that list.

DA:    Is it too early to actually be thinking of grooming a QB to take over for Peyton Manning one day?

PW:   Yes, it is too early. Manning turns 35 in March, and he’s planning to
play at least four or five more years, we’re thinking. That means
Manning’s replacement is probably starting college right now. Give or
take a year or two.

DA:    The Colts struggled to both stop the run and run the ball in 2011. How
much emphasis do you think there will be try and correct that?

PW:    It’s been an ongoing problem for the last few years. Attempts
were made to beef up the line. They failed. And they cut a guy,
offensive guard Ryan Lilja, who was better than anybody else they lined
up at the position this year. In every one of their losses this season,
the opponent pounded the Colts on the ground. They took advantage of
the scheme, with the pass-rushing ends coming up too far, too fast
outside, the defensive tackles not getting penetration, the Colts’
smallish linebackers unable to get off blocks to make stops. The Colts
need another safety. Antoine Bethea can’t do it all himself. While
there was some progress late in the year with the Colts stopping the
NFL’s No. 2 rush offenses in back-to-back weeks, Jacksonville and then
Oakland, those teams had shaky quarterbacks, too. I think it was more
of the other team’s limitations than the Colts’ improvement. There
should be a tremendous amount of emphasis on this problem, but Colts
president Bill Polian blamed the playoff loss to the Jets on special
teams. He said nothing was wrong with the defense. So you can’t help
but wonder if those ignoring history are doomed to repeat it.

DA:    Bill Polian is often revered as one of the best talent evaluators in
the game and has had constant success drafting with the Colts. What is
it about his methods that allow him to be so good at what he does?

PW:   He’s been named NFL executive-of-the-year six times, but many are
calling Polian’s abilities into question. Fact is, he’s missed on some
high picks in recent years and it’s really hurt this team. They moved
up to take offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, and he was a bust. Mike Pollak
has been average at best and has lost his guard job twice in as many
years. Running back Donald Brown hasn’t been the guy everybody thought
he would be as a first-round pick. This most recent first-round pick,
defensive end Jerry Hughes had as many tackles (six) as healthy
scratches. Fans are already calling him a bust. While Polian has scored
big with mid-round and late-round picks such as cornerback Jerraud
Powers (third round), wide receiver Austin Collie (fourth round), wide
receiver Pierre Garcon (sixth round), the reality is there have been
enough misses to question if Mr. Bill is, indeed, slipping.

DA:    The Colts are generally pretty quiet when it comes to free agency. Do you expect that to change at all this offseason?

PW:   They have so many guys looking for new contracts, it’s doubtful
the Colts will make much noise in the free-agent market. The company
line is their free agency is keeping their most important players. They
will re-sign Manning. They need to give a new deal to Charlie Johnson,
safety Melvin Bullitt and kicker Adam Vinatieri, too. I’m not sure if
they bring back running back Joseph Addai. Same with linebacker Clint
Session. The list also includes defensive tackles Dan Muir, Antonio
Johnson and Eric Foster, guard Kyle DeVan, and a few others. But I do
think the Colts need to invest in at least one or two offensive
tackles, if for no other reason than depth, to ensure the line doesn’t
give up as much pressure as it did last year. The Colts still led the
NFL in fewest sacks allowed, but that was more about Manning making
guys miss because, too many times, he was rushed or planted.

For more on the Colts, check out the following:

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