Draft Day: Some things to think about

No team has pulled more draft-day surprises than the Colts — and they won the Super Bowl. Clearly, there's a method to their madness and, if you look at what they've done in the past you can get a good idea of what they'll do today.

• Trading down doesn't mean getting an inferior player. Case in point: Bob Sanders, selected at No. 44 after the Colts traded down was a much better choice than anyone else the Colts could have picked at their spot in the first round.

• Sure things (Rob Morris, Mike Doss, Ben Hartsock) often in retrospect seem a lot riskier than freakish "reaches" (Dwight Freeney, Sanders).

• Small-school phenoms can be hits (Antonie Bethea, Robert Mathis) or misses (Rob Hunt, Rodregis Brooks).

Ray Lewis famously said 'defense wins championships,' but I think the Colts may disagree. Despite long having a top offense and a mediocre at best defense, the Polian-led Colts have had far more success with their offensive first rounders (Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Peyton Manning) that their defensive ones (Marlin Jackson, Dwight Freeney, Morris).

• As long as Manning is the Colts quarterback, management will try to get him targets.

• The team generally knows who all its starters will be going into the draft and instead will concentrate on future starters and role players (slot receiver, short-yardage back).

• The Colts prefer high character players and avoid guys who have had a run-in with the law, but will make an exception if the prospect can convince them he's put his childish ways behind him (as in Marlin Jackson).

• Size simply doesn't matter. The Colts will draft defensive linemen who look like wide receivers (Jonathan Welsh) and cornerbacks who look like Pop Warner quarterbacks (Jason David).

• The Colts love to draft players from Wisconsin, but they haven't exactly found a treasure trove there (Welsh, Anthony Davis, Jim Sorgi, Jason Doering). They've had much better luck with Iowa (Sanders, Clark).

• Want a stud defensive tackle? You're better off asking your parents for a pony. Polian's Colts have drafted few (Sweet Pea Burns, Larry Tripplett, David Pugh, Josh Williams and Rob Renes) and had little luck. Burns, Pugh and Renes added nothing, while Trips and Josh were disappointments at best.

• The Colts pay close attention to combine and pro day numbers. They traded up to get Steve McKinney because of his bench presses, drafted Jake Scott because of his vertical and Tim Jennings after his blistering forties. They love linemen with great verticals and 10-yard dashes and defensive backs and linebackers who do well in the shuttles and cones.

• Polian will often fall in love with players nobody else seems to want (Gilbert Gardner, Jerome Pathon. Welsh) and he's usually welcome to them.

• The Colts go by the tried-and-true formula of investing a lot in your left tackle (Tarik Glenn, first round) and not much in the rest. The other current starters are Scott (fifth round), Jeff Saturday (undrafted), Ryan Lilja (undrafted) and Ryan Diem (fourth round). Don't look for them to use a high pick on a lineman until they have to replace Glenn.

• In nine drafts, Polian's Colts have selected 22 defensive backs.

• A surprising number of the Colts' Super Bowl-season starters (Saturday, Lilja, Dominic Rhodes, Ben Utecht, Gary Brackett, Nick Harper) and other regular players (kicker Adam Vinatieri, return man Terrence Wilkins, snapper Justin Snow) weren't even drafted at all.


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