"He is a such a great player that I don't think any single player can replace him. I hated to see him go because he was not only a great player, but one of the best teammates I've ever had. I'll always be indebted to him. But you have to roll up your sleeves and move on in this business, and that's what we are going to try to do with Dominic Rhodes."
For the rest of Peyton's quotes, click here.
Young quarterback needed: The Colts will look to bring in a quarterback out of this year's draft eligible class. The big question is whether or not they bring in a fairly big name player such as Alabama's Brodie Coyle in the mid-rounds of this draft as a possible successor to Jim Sorgi, or a low-round or possible undrafted free agent such as Georgia's D.J. Shockley. Even Penn State's Michael Robinson -- who the Colts could use elsewhere on the roster while checking out his ability to step into the backup role next year -- could be a possibility. Coyle and Robinson both told us at the Combine that they had interviews with the Colts while Shockley mentioned that he had talked to them as well.
During Tony Dungy's press conference at the Combine, here's what he had to say in response to my question about the Colts' plans for the quarterback position, considering they have just Peyton Manning and Jim Sorgi on the roster after the departure of Tom Arth to the Green Bay Packers. ColtPower Insiders can listen to the his response by clicking the link below:
Some luck, some science: No matter who Bill Polian chooses with his top pick next weekend, odds are that the player will have a great impact on the future of the Colts. Bob Brookover at CentreDaily.com points out that the Colts have made the best first-round selections over the past seven years out of all the teams in the NFL. "That cast includes running back Edgerrin James, defensive end Dwight Freeney, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, and tight end Dallas Clark. One year earlier, of course, they selected Peyton Manning with the first overall pick."
Linebacker depth: This year's linebacker class boasts one of the deepest in recent memory. So while the current debate appears to be whether or not the Colts will go linebacker or running back with their first pick, don't be surprised to see them wait until the second or third round to address their vacancy at strongside linebacker. Although Gilbert Gardner has been penciled in to David Thornton's old role, he hasn't been able to go injury-free for his first two seasons in a reserve role. So at minimum the Colts need another player capable of being ready to step in should Gardner falter or get injured again.
With some speculating that as many as ten defensive backs could go in the first round, along with some quarterbacks and running backs, it's likely a number of the top linebackers will still be available in the second round. Guys like Ohio State's Bobby Carpenter and Alabama's DeMarco Ryans or even UTEP's Thomas Howard could still be on the board early in the second round. And a prime candidate who fits the mold of the speedy, athletic linebackers the Colts covet, Jon Alston out of Stanford, is projected to be a third-rounder, so he could be snagged by Indy late in the second round or possibly even in the third.
Marino could have been a Colt: To illustrate how one decision during a team's pre-draft analysis can change the face of a team, consider this point raised by Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel. Prior to the 1983 draft, then head coach Frank Kush pleaded with Colts owner Robert Irsay to forget about trying to force John Elway's hand and draft Dan Marino instead. According to Hyde, Colts assistant Mike Westhoff remembered Irsay's reply to Kush. And it basically went like this: "If you pick Marino, you're fired." The Colts ended up with quarterback Mark Hermann and eventual Pro Bowl offensive lineman Chris Hinton in a trade with Denver after Elway stuck to his guns on never playing for the Colts. Elway and Marino are now both in the Hall of Fame.
Manning vs. Leaf: To further drive home the point that the draft is sometimes the biggest crapshoot out there, despite the hours and money invested in evaluating top talent, former Colts head coach Jim Mora recently told nola.com that he's still stunned by the fact that Ryan Leaf ended up such an abominable failure at the NFL level.
"Ryan Leaf had everything you looked for in a pro quarterback, everything," Mora said. "Why he was such a bust still baffles me. Goes to prove what an inexact science drafting can be, despite all the work involved, especially when you're dealing with what you consider the elite. Ryan Leaf proved there are no slam dunks."