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MI_Buckeye
05-18-2011, 01:34 PM
Chiefs are up next. If you are interested in knowing the remaining order of my reviews, it is available in the Chargers review thread.

Indianapolis Colts

Where the franchise stood before the draft:

Perhaps no team had one single more urgent priority than the Colts. PROTECT PEYTON MANNING!!!

18 has elevated this franchise like few in the history of sports. He has done it all. In the course of starting every game in the first 13 years of his career, he has played in two Super Bowls, winning one, won multiple MVPs, taken the Colts to the playoffs in all but two seasons and will probably leave the game with every significant passing record in the game. When you talk about a player being the franchise, Manning is the penultimate example.

And the best news is, he is not going anywhere anytime soon.

However, Manning's marks of durability are getting harder to maintain with the amount of abuse he has taken the past several years. Since the retirement of Tarik Glenn, the Colts have tried a whole lot at LT to keep their franchise standing up. Surrendering a first round pick for Tony Ugoh didn't work out, neither has Charlie Johnson. GM Bill Polian even went as far as to publicly express regret over not taking current Rams LT Rodger Saffold in last year's draft. Perhaps no pick was easier to mock than OT to the Colts.

That being said, this team has plenty of other areas of concern. The defense is not exactly championship-caliber, and they are particularly weak in the interior defensive line, an area often thought of as the engine of the Tampa 2 scheme. Former DPOY Bob Sanders is no longer with the team and depth in the secondary is a significant issue.

The Colts still have championship football in them, but the window is closing. It really is not a stretch to say how the Colts perform in the 2011 draft will determine how much longer that window stays open.

The Picks

Round One, Pick 22: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

Great pick. I thought Castonzo was the best tackle among the first rounders. He is a technician with explosive hands. He is a natural knee and hip bender, enabling him to handle counter pass rush moves much better at this stage of his career than OTs taken earlier like Tyron Smith and Nate Solder.

I also love the edge Castonzo plays with. He is an old-fashioned BC lineman, and while he doesn't dominate in the run game like Chris Snee, he is more than willing to get involved in some extra-curriculars if he feels his players are being threatened.

The one issue with Castonzo is whether he has the feet to be an elite pass protector. He is a former tight end with good athleticism, but his lateral quickness is just a couple rungs above average.

All things taken into consideration, Castonzo looks like a significant upgrade. It was pretty obvious the Colts had found their blindside protector for years to come until ...

Round Two, Pick 49 (from Washington): Ben Ijalana, OT, Villanova

Bill Polian typically doesn't like to trade up in the draft, and he definitely doesn't like taking players from lower levels of play. That must tell you Polian likes Ijalana almost as much as I do.

One of my pet prospects, Ijalana was simply dominating in both the run and pass games at Nova. Because of his height at 6'3", many analysts initially projected Ijalana inside at OG, but when they realized he had one of the longest wingspans in the draft to go along with really good feet, I think more decision makers warmed to the idea of keeping him at OT.

Like Castonzo, Ijalana is a natural bender and plays with great leverage. In getting two of the most polished linemen in the draft, the Colts greatly improved their chances of keeping Manning healthy now. The only question is where do you play both of them.

Call me crazy, but I think we could very well see Ijalana starting on the left side while Castonzo takes over at RT this season. Peyton has to be smiling.

Round Three, Pick 87: Drake Nevis, DT, LSU

This is a typical Bill Polian pick, taking perhaps the most productive player from a major football factory left on the board.

This past season, Nevis trailed only Nick Fairley, not only in the SEC but nationally, in terms of making plays from the DT position. Nevis plays with a great motor and an elite first step. He is pretty significantly undersized but fits into the Colts' defense better than he would most.

The Colts needed a player at DT almost as much as they needed a couple of OTs. Daniel Muir and Fili Moala finished last season with a combined ZERO sacks. Pathetic, especially for this scheme.

Round Four, Pick 119: Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse
Carter gives the Colts their most physical runner in years. He is tough between the tackles and has tremendous balance. He breaks a ton of tackles but has very little wiggle in his game.

Carter will be the short-yardage back immediately with the opportunity to compete for more playing time down the road. This is also a pick to help protect Manning, as the current backs have had issues with protection.

Round Six, Pick 188: Chris L. Rucker, CB, Michigan State

The Colts are typically one of the most character-conscious teams in the league, so it is curious that here they take a guy with more baggage than Santa Claus.

Rucker is a good, physical corner who doesn't wow you in any one area of the game. Get burnt playing press man but will not be playing much of that in Indy.

All in all

The Colts have a couple glaring holes, and I think they filled the wonderfully. I honestly can't criticize any of the first three picks; I think they were that full on.

Thanks to their first two picks, I don't think we'll be talking about OT as a need for the Colts for a very long time. Nevis will be a starter and will give them an interior pass rush they may never have had.

The Day Three picks are a bit more suspect, but I think both guys bring something of value.

This small class has no developmental feel to it whatsoever; it's win now baby. This class helps the Colts as much as any top-tier team take that next step to contend for Lombardi next season. One of the very best drafts in the whole league.

Overall Draft grade: A

FUNBUNCHER
05-18-2011, 01:50 PM
Like both Olineman, Nevis and the Delone Carter pick.

Iamcanadian
05-18-2011, 02:54 PM
I like the Colt's draft but lets not exaggerate. Castonzo has weaknesses. I originally thought Baldinger, the ex OL analyst on NFLN was a pretty weak assessor of talent until he got to the OL, a position he played in the NFL. Then my ears perked up because he seemed to understand what it took to play the positions.
He saw real weaknesses in Castonzo's game, played too high, not a natural knee or hip bender. He is more of a mauler who will struggle at the next level if he doesn't improve in those areas. That is the reason Smith and Solder went before him, they have far more natural ability than Castonzo.
It doesn't mean he won't succeed at the next level but he could end up as a RT if he doesn't improve or even move inside.

AntoinCD
05-19-2011, 03:15 AM
I liked the Ijalana pick and I loved the Drake Nevis pick. To me he will be a better player than Corey Liuget. But I cant say Im in love with Castonzo. He is IMO a very low ceiling player. Doesnt have the strength to dominate a guy like Mario Williams nor the athleticism to beat pure speed guys. Could be a solid player but I think they could have gotten an impact player in the early 20s and still upgraded their offensive line later

PossibleCabbage
05-19-2011, 06:14 AM
When you talk about a player being the franchise, Manning is the penultimate example.

Not to nitpick (okay, I'm nitpicking) but "Penultimate" means "one less than ultimate" or "second best" which is probably not the word you want there.

MI_Buckeye
05-19-2011, 08:44 AM
Not to nitpick (okay, I'm nitpicking) but "Penultimate" means "one less than ultimate" or "second best" which is probably not the word you want there.

No, point taken. I should know better. :)

killxswitch
05-19-2011, 10:14 AM
Good comments but I have to agree with some of the others about Castonzo. I was disappointed that we didn't pick Carimi. I don't think Castonzo is that much more athletic, if at all, and he doesn't have the mean streak or attitude Carimi does. Plus, Carimi faced some fierce competition as a SR. 4 1st round DEs to be exact. The last great pass rusher Castonzo faced was as a junior vs. Robert Quinn and Quinn embarrassed him. I am hoping he will do well of course. But there are questions.

I also would've preferred DeAndre McDaniel in the 6th over Chris Rucker. We need a starting SS and McDaniel could've competed for that right away. Rucker will not get past CB4 on the depth chart without injuries to help.

Overall I give the Colts an A on this draft just because I love the positional picks and some players were good value (Nevis and Carter). I have some gripes but I always do. This has the potential to be Polian's best draft since 1998, but the truth is his son Chris had a lot more to do with it this year.

Even though I have some reservations about Carimi's skill and Ijalana's attitude, they are both significant upgrades over what we currently have on the OL.

Cudders
05-19-2011, 12:45 PM
The thing that gets neglected in Castonzo's and Ijalana's transition to the NFL is Manning's general pocket presence and advanced understanding of protections. That will make their transition much smoother than most rookie offensive linemen. I think some people still underestimate how bad most of the guys on that line were last year. Castonzo and Ijalana don't need to be All-Pros or even Pro Bowlers from day one to keep Manning upright. Sure, it'd be nice, but it's not necessary. They just need to not be worthless.

I also liked the pick of Drake Nevis pick in the third round. He definitely has the talent to contribute at a position of need and I personally peg him as a better value at eighty-seven than someone like Liuget was at eighteen.

I didn't see too much of Delone Carter at 'Cuse, but I was a big fan from what I did see. Short but compact, good explosiveness, outstanding wiggle for his size, a monster in a blitz pick-up role, and flashes some impressive power to boot. Wished he would showcase it more though because he can be a load to wrestle down. I can see Carter being a real nice pick for the Colts down the line.

Overall, I was actually a fan of what Bill Polian did in this draft, which is something I haven't said in quite a while.

roscoesdad27
05-19-2011, 09:20 PM
Love the colts draft....2 bookend o.t.'s to help carry manning into the sunset. Castonozo is the more ready/steady play now guy while Ijalana has the upside. I expect Castonozo to start early at left tackle while Ijalana battles for the starting right spot, eventually earning it. In a year or 2 I see Ijalana as the starting left tackle and Castonozo the starter on the right. The franchise will be fortunately set at o.t. when the torch is passed from manning to whoever.

Nevis was the best pick in the third round imho...great value at a position of immediate need and fits the system to perfection.

J-Mike88
05-21-2011, 09:56 PM
Good comments but I have to agree with some of the others about Castonzo. I was disappointed that we didn't pick Carimi. I don't think Castonzo is that much more athletic, if at all, and he doesn't have the mean streak or attitude Carimi does. Plus, Carimi faced some fierce competition as a SR. 4 1st round DEs to be exact.
5 years from now, people will wonder why they didn't take Derek Sherrod.
I hope.

killxswitch
05-22-2011, 08:38 AM
5 years from now, people will wonder why they didn't take Derek Sherrod.
I hope.

Sherrod was my 2nd choice if the Colts couldn't get Carimi. Kind of annoying they could've taken both but took neither. Oh well. I'm just glad we got some OT help.

Rosebud
05-22-2011, 09:35 AM
delete pwease