Once Again, Colts Not Tipping Their Hand

Bill Polian says the Colts are hopeful that one of about seven players will land in their lap with the 29th pick this weekend. For the Colts' sake, hopefully that player will be a middle linebacker or defensive tackle that will bolster the run defense.

Indianapolis Colts team president Bill Polian  has been known to keep his draft plans held very close to his chest. As  such,  it's always tough to get a clear read on what is going in the minds of Polian and head coach Tony Dungy. Still,  one  thing  is clear - the Colts want to continue a recent  trend of bringing in those players with strong athletic skills. To Indianapolis' point of view, speed kills and you can never have too many players with that all-important attribute.

With  one of the NFL's top offenses already in place, the Colts are expected to go big on the defensive side yet again in an effort to continue a rebuilding project that has begun to show some signs of success. The  recent  additions  of  DE Dwight Freeney (first round, 2002) and S Bob Sanders (second round, 2004) - both expected to be cornerstones of the retooling effort - have set the stage for this year's draft. Freeney  had a league-leading 16 sacks last season while Sanders showed a great deal of promise despite missing a lot of time as a rookie recovering from foot and knee injuries.

The spotlight in this year's draft is expected to be on one of three positions - linebacker, defensive line and cornerback. While  the  team  might  take  a long look at the deep group of running  backs available this year, adding more defensive help remains the key.

"There  are  a  couple  of guys that we've got our eye on," Dungy  said  recently.  "Unfortunately,  picking  at 29 (in the first  round),  we're not exactly sure who's going to go before us or what we're going to have to do. But we're going to do our homework and hopefully come up with some good guys."

While the Colts will have some waiting to do before they get a  chance to select someone in the first round, Dungy is confident  that a quality player will be available to them when the time comes.

"You look at some of the guys that have played. Bob Sanders certainly  played  well  for us and he was picked in the second round  (in 2004). (TE) Dallas (Clark) was kind of at the end of the  first round (in 2003) and did a good job for us. We've had success that way," he said.  "To me, you look at every player at having a chance to come in and help us. Everybody focuses in on the first-rounders, but you  want  to have a draft where you add six or seven real good players.  I  think  the (LB) Gary  Bracketts,  the (WR) Aaron Mooreheads,  the (WR-KR) Brad Pyatts that come in through free agency or it could be (DE) Robert Mathis who comes in the fifth round. It could come from anywhere."

One thing may be certain, though. Polian and Dungy both like players  early  in  the  draft  who  come  from  power football conferences. That will be a key. Among  the  names that could find their way onto the Colts' draft  board are Southern Cal DE Shaun Cody,  Southern  Cal  DT  Mike Patterson, Georgia LB Odell Thurman, Nebraska and CB Fabian Washington. Also  Florida  State  DT  Travis  Johnson,  Iowa DT Jonathan Babineaux,  LSU CB Cory  Webster, Tennessee LB Kevin Bennett, Notre Dame LB Mike Goolsby, Oregon State CB Brandon Browner and Michigan CB Marlin Jackson.

NOTES, QUOTES

-- The  Colts'  off-season  practice  schedule  includes  a three-day  minicamp  for  rookies (April 29-May 1), a mandatory three-day  full-squad  minicamp (May 20-22) and a 14-day summer school that begins May 16.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Most of our guys are here. Everybody will be here  for  some part of it. The two places I've been, we've had very  good attendance. We've gotten things done. It's made us a better  team because I believe there is a tie-in. The more guys you  have here (in the off-season) and the more often they're here,  probably  the  better you do the next year." -- Colts coach Tony  Dungy on the expected attendance at the team's voluntary and mandatory off-season practices.


Colts Blitz Top Stories