Colts Blog: April 21, 2007

Jason David's out (probably), and Jake Scott is back in, so what does that tell us about the Colts? Will the draft choices go toward plugging defensive holes, or to making the killer offense all that more potent? Hint: Don't bet on defense.

If you had any hope the Colts would retain Jason David (better known to many fans as "Scrappy-doo"), it died when press reports made it known that the offer sheet the Saints signed him to was worth about $16 million over four years.

So the Saints think he's worth $4 million a year, while the Colts offered him $850,000 — that's a barely noticeable 371 percent difference.

Like most differences of opinion, the truth is somewhere in the middle. While David isn't the spare part the Colts' offer would indicate, he's neither the top-shelf stopper the Saints' offer says he is. Instead, David is a competent No. 2 corner who'll neither win nor lose games. He's as smart, fast, aggressive and agile as they come, but he's short, thin and not blessed with superior ball skills.

While the Indy press is clinging to the lottery-ticket chance he could return, the NoLa media has already anointed him a starter.

So where does that leave the Colts? With both of last year's starters gone, they get to (have to?) choose between recent first-day picks Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden and Tim Jennings. But keep in mind that while David was a Day 1 starter, the members of the trio that would replace him and Nick Harper have seen limited duty.

Jackson has seen the most action with nine starts, most of them at safety. He's plenty big, powerful and aggressive, but has not exactly shown he has the speed or zone-coverage instincts to be a starting corner in the NFL.

Hayden has one start and some frequent appearances as a nickel and dime back under his belt. While he's certainly a faster and more fluid athlete than Jackson, he's not as polished. He has natural coverage skills, but can still be turned inside-out by a crafty receiver.

Jennings has only showed up on the NFL field for a handful of mainly inconsequential plays. Still, he's the fastest and most natural cover man of the lot (including David), but he's very slight and you kind of have to wonder why the Colts wouldn't let him on the field last year.

And, of course, there's always the draft — after all, didn't Jason David start from his first game with the team? While that's true, none of the other 11 corners Bill Polian has drafted with the team has. The team really likes Auburn's David Irons, who at least talks like he's NFL-ready. Texas' Tarell Brown is also an option.

• So Jake Scott signed his $1.3 million tender. Although that's a lot more than the Colts pay for most of their non-star starters, it's cheap for an experienced starter who has allowed six sacks in 44 games and can play guard, center or even tackle in a pinch.

While it's certainly advantageous for the Colts to have their entire offensive line return — stability is so important at the position — it seems like a lot of money, especially when the team has brought potential re-starter Rick DeMulling back into the fold and offered three-year starting cornerback David $450,000 less.

Look for the Colts to try to sign Scott to a long-term deal to lock him up and to reduce his cap hit. Clearly they believe he has a future.

• Interestingly, while the Colts have not only sealed up their entire starting offensive line but signed a prodigal son, they have allowed three regular starters from the secondary (David, Harper and safety Mike Doss) and their starting weakside linebacker (Cato June) go in free agency.

There are two ways to look at this. The first is that all of those free-agent losses were inevitable because of the team's salary cap situation. The more likely scenario is that the Colts' have come to the conclusion that balance doesn't win football games, using your best weapon does.

So, while we all love Dwight, Bob and all the others on defense, this team is all about keeping Peyton Manning off the turf and giving him someone to throw to. Keep in mind that the Colts' defense was in even more dire straits when the team spent first-round picks on Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark and I don't see too many people asking for do-overs on them.

And if you look at the Colts receivers, you can see that after Marvin Harrison and Wayne the cupboard is basically bare. People talk about Aaron Moorehead, but honestly speaking, what has he done? I'll tell you — 23 catches for 265 yards and one score in four full seasons. Besides, he's a free agent. Terrence Wilkins (also a free agent) has some credentials, but he caught his last NFL pass in 2002, when he went 5-31-0 for the season. The others on the roster (John Standeford and Devin Aromashadu) have combined for grand total of nothing. Oh, and there's always Craphonso Thorpe, who also has no catches after a couple of NFL seasons.

Since the Colts prefer to go with three wideouts about two-thirds of the time (starting tight end/fullback played most of the slot last season out of a total lack of talent among the in-house wideouts), it would not surprise me in the least if the Colts take a receiver with their top pick. LSU's Dwayne Bowe and Tennessee's Robert Meachem bring different things to the table, but either would be welcome. I don't think the team would turn down Ohio State's ready-for-the-slot Anthony Gonzalez either.

Another option some Colts fans might find offensive is Rutgers running back Brian Leonard. Say what you will about him, he can play halfback (a need for the Colts), fullback (another), tight end (sort of) and H-back (still another). He can block better than any non-lineman offensive player the Colts have, catches the ball as well as any man in the land and can shift the pile on short yardage as an inside runner, something else the Colts desperately need.

• Just took a look at Mel Kiper's Colts draft and, as usual with Mel, I'm not too, too impressed. Here they are:

1/32 Justin Harrell DT Tennessee: While Harrell has his fans in the Colts community, I'm not among them. To be fair, Harrell has shown signs of being a run-stopping force in college, he's injury-prone and has no pass-rush moves. He fell into a few sacks in college (four), but that won't happen in the pros.

3/95 Brandon Jackson RB Nebraska: While Jackson has some running, receiving and pass-blocking skills — all of which the Colts need — he's as injury-prone as Harrell and is hardly the pile-driver they're looking for.

3/98 Mario Henderson T Florida State: I kind of like this pick because he Henderson has some natural talent and is a big body, but he really doesn't seem like he wants it. This former basketball player has very little pass-blocking technique and seems to show up on the wrong side of highlight films too often. I'd forgive his flaws if he came from a small school with iffy coaching, but this guy put four full seasons in at Florida State. He's a project, but not one I'd invest that much in.

4/131 Justin Durant LB Hampton: Durant is the anti-Harrell — he's great against the pass and terrible against the run. And it's not just his size, he just doesn't do it well. Oh sure, he could learn, but that's a real gamble. It's not uncommon for teams to have big slugs at DT and undersized linebackers behind them, but does anybody other than Kiper think that's the Polian/Tony Dungy style? I'm not saying Durant couldn't get a call from the horseshoe phone, but he doesn't fit in this draft.

4/136 Daymeion Hughes CB California: Hmm, slow (4.65 at the combine) and chooses not to support the run? Sign me up!

Instead, let me offer:

1/32 Dwayne Bowe WR LSU

3/95 David Irons CB Auburn

3/98 Brandon Mebane DT California

4/131 Kolby Smith RB Louisville

4/136 Zak DeOssie LB Brown

While it may be just as inaccurate as Kiper's, at least it acknowledges what the Colts really need.


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