A pre-draft look at the Colts' needs

The media says the Colts must get an outside linebacker or a defensive tackle, while Polian purists are screaming for a wide receiver. A look at the team's current depth chart shows that they are both right (and that the Colts need cornerbacks, safeties and running backs as well).

With the draft a couple of days away, it's a good idea to look at who the Colts have on hand before predicting who they'll add.

Quarterback

Peyton Manning, Jim Sorgi, John Navarre, Josh Betts, Mike McGann

Need: Low to none. The Colts don't have the cap room or will to acquire a legitimate prospect to sit on the bench and watch Peyton Manning do his stuff. Instead, they comb the late rounds and waiver wire for strong-armed prospects who can be groomed into a reasonable clipboard carrier. At 31 and at the peak of his career, it's still too early to think about Manning's eventual replacement.

Running backs

Joseph Addai, Dede Dorsey, Luke Lawton, Kenton Keith

Need: Medium. While it's true Addai rushed for more than 1000 yards as a rookie, it's important to note that he did so while starting a total of zero regular-season games. While his rookie season was something of a revelation, he has never carried the primary load before (even in college). And what happens if he gets injured, as happened to him many times in college? Dorsey and Keith are speedy undersized scatbacks with virtually no NFL experience, while Lawton is a slow-footed blocking back. Even if Addai stays healthy and does everything the Colts hope for, he's not the short-yardage, between-the-tackles runner the team has needed for years.

Wide receiver

Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, John Standeford, Devin Aromashodu, Craphonso Thorpe, Brian Hare, Kevin McMahan

Need: High. The Colts prefer to use a third receiver most of the time, but after Harrison and Wayne (both legitimate stars), they have a bunch of who-hes fighting for what counts as a virtual starting spot. While Harrison and Wayne have combined for 1,412 catches, 19,171 yards and 159 touchdowns, the other guys on the roster have a clean slate of goose eggs. While the Colts may well be desperate for a No. 3 guy, they also really need depth. While Harrison has been a model of consistency for years, he'll be 35 when the season starts, absorbs a ton of punishment and is skinnier than a supermodel.

Tight end

Dallas Clark, Ben Utecht, Bryan Fletcher

Need: Medium. While at first glance it looks like the Colts have an embarrassment of wealth at the position, there are questions, especially when you consider how often the Colts play with two tight ends. Clark is so versatile he frequently plays wide receiver or fullback — and he's not exactly an ironman when it comes to durability. Utecht is also a very talented receiver and an okay blocker, but he's one of the most glass-jawed people you'll ever see pull on an NFL uniform. Fletcher isn't the athlete or weapon the other two are, but he can catch the ball, and has a good rapport with Manning. Veteran Mike Seidman (who visited the Colts yesterday) was a well-respected pass-catching prospect when he was drafted by Carolina back in 2003, but has suffered so many injuries since, it would be silly to depend on him.

Tackle

Tarik Glenn, Ryan Diem, Charlie Johnson, Daniel Federkeil, Michael Toudouze

Need: Low. Glenn and Diem are top-shelf starters, and Johnson can fill in at either position without a huge drop-off. If need be, starting guard Jake Scott can also play a decent game of tackle. Glenn isn't always in the best of shape and has 154 NFL starts under his belt, so an eventual heir is necessary. I'm not sure Johnson, Federkeil or Toudouze fits the bill.

Guard

Jake Scott, Ryan Lilja, Rick DeMulling, Dylan Gandy, Matt Ulrich, Sam Wilder

Need: Low-none. The Colts have four guards who started for them in the past, and they are a generally young and durable group. Even the fifth guy, Ulrich, has legitimate NFL skills.

Center

Jeff Saturday, Albert Bimper

Need: Low. Saturday is still among the league's best, but is going to be 32 soon. While Bimper may not have the durability to replace him, all five of the Colts' top guards also play center.

Defensive end

Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Josh Thomas, Bo Schobel, Ryan LaCasse, Jeff Charleston

Need: Medium. While both Freeney and Mathis are difference makers, neither is adept at sealing off the outside run and Mathis would really benefit by sitting on at least some first- and second-down plays. The Colts re-signed Thomas and Schobel and traded for LaCasse, but none of them appears to figure too prominently in the team's plans. A potential starter, or at least part-time contributor, is looking more and more like a necessity.

Defensive tackle

Raheem Brock, Anthony McFarland, Darrell Reid, Tom Johnson, Dan Klecko

Need: High. Brock and McFarland are competent starters, but the Colts like to rotate their tackles and they don't really have any trustworthy options behind them. Reid and Klecko have had their moments, but neither is the answer. Johnson is playing well in Europe, but when has that ever helped a Colts' prospect?

Outside linebacker

Rob Morris, Gilbert Gardner, Freddy Keiaho, Rocky Boiman, Keith O'Neil, Trevis Coley

Need: Medium. The Colts have two open spots and three question marks to fill them. Morris has played very well in short stretches, but has never held up for a full season and is 32. Gardner failed in his first shot as a starter and is injury-prone. Keiaho is an up-and-comer who deserves a starting shot, but will probably experience growing pains with more exposure. Boiman and O'Neil are special teamers who only play defense in a pinch. Look for the Colts to draft an eventual starter at this position, not an immediate one.

Inside linebacker

Gary Brackett, Tyjuan Hagler, Mike Labinjo, Brandon Hoyte

Need: Low. Brackett's a good starter who should last for a while. The other guys have shown nothing (although Hagler has his supporters), so depth is important here. All of the noteworthy outside linebacker prospects have also played inside.

Cornerback

Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings, T.J. Rushing, Tanard Davis

Need: Medium-high. While both of last year's starters left as free agents, the situation isn't as dire as it may appear. The Colts have spent one first-round and two second-round draft choices on the position in the last two years and should be able to cobble together a decent top three. But since Rushing and Davis are cornerbacks in name only, expect the draft to yield at least one legitimate prospect on the first day.

Safety

Bob Sanders, Antoine Bethea, Matt Giordano, Scott Ware, Norman LeJeune

Need: Medium. While Sanders and Bethea are top-of-the-line players, Sanders in terribly injury-prone. The need for a third starting-quality safety is obvious. Giordano has played well in short bursts, but may not be the answer at No. 3. The other guys are fringe until they prove otherwise.

Punter

Hunter Smith, Reggie Hodges

Need: None. Smith is a great punter and a once-in-a-generation holder and Hodges is better than many NFL veterans. Move along, nothing to see here.

Kicker

Adam Vinatieri, Shane Andrus

Need: None. Vinatieri is headed for Canton, Andrus is a decent fill-in if he gets hurt again.

Long snapper

Justin Snow

Need: None. Snow's far from perfect, but the team is comfortable with him and loathe to replace him.


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