Ed Thompson Chat Highlights!

Scout.com Senior Analyst Ed Thompson stopped by the ColtPower.com chat room for nearly two hours Sunday. Thompson talked about the Colts draft strategy, his observations from the NFL Combine, the future of Marvin Harrison, some of the Colts' younger players, and more! Get all the Insider information inside!

Chipperchop: Any skinny on the latest injury status of Harrison and Freeney?

EdThompson: Harrison's injury is really puzzling. People I talked to at the Combine were buzzing about the fact that he's still having inflammation issues with a problem from last fall. Freeney's got an injury that just takes a lot of time to heal. That said, I just interviewed a RB out of AZ State who had the same injury early last fall as Freeney, and he was able to run at the Combine 5 months later, so this talk that Freeney may not be ready until the end of training camp is also puzzling.

erichartz: Ed, how serious do you think the Bengals are about Ben Utecht? I know a lot of fans have problems with his fumbles, but he's still a pretty valuable part of the offense. Have we seen the last of him?

EdThompson: I think so. He got that call from Cincy within hours of the opening of free agency. And the Saints are definitely trying to grab a TE through free agency as well. I think the Colts offered him the minimum just to try to keep him on the cheap if no one else stepped forward. I'll be shocked to see them make him a long term contract offer to match another team. The Colts have been too active courting TEs to invest much in Fletcher or Utecht, in my opinion. Utecht has likely played his last down as a Colt.

BoilerMacR: Is it your opinion Ed that we definitely add a TE in the draft?

EdThompson: Done deal in my opinion. Just a matter of how high of a pick they want to spend ... and I think that will be dictated by when there is a guy at a high value still sitting on the board in a particular round that the Colts think is worth more. For example, if USC's Fred Davis is still not picked by that second-round pick, they could grab him ... In the third, Tennessee's Brad Cottam could be a nice pick. Huge target and a Tennessee guy that Peyton knows.

Brad Cottam could be a target for the Colts at tight end
AP Photo/Winston Luzier

Chipperchop: Any hint of who the team is targeting at #59?

EdThompson: I asked Dungy about their interest in RBs because in addition to TE, I think that's their biggest need in this draft. He said at the Combine that he's be surprised if the team would use one of their top picks on a RB, but that he ultimately doesn't make those decisions. But he did say they would be looking for talent at that position and if the right one was available through the draft they would grab him. Remember, though: If the Colts ARE thinking RB, they aren't going to tip their hand in front of a room full of media people.

Chipperchop: Any possible interest in Erik Ainge?

EdThompson: I haven't confirmed yet if the Colts have talked to him, but I know his agent, so I'll see what I can find out. I'm not really high on him, though. He would be an improvement over Sorgi though, he's a gamer.

Chipperchop: Forte?

EdThompson: I'd love to see them take Forte. He's the perfect fit for what the Colts need. Big guy, very physical, nice hands, blocks well in pass protection, and a high character kid. He's moving up, so he may be gone by the time the Colts pick. Just talked to East Carolina's Chris Johnson, a guy who reminds me of Edge. He told me the Colts didn't request a formal interview with him at the Combine, which surprised me.

Other possible #59 picks, IMO ... Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws ... Rutgers RB Ray Rice ... USC DE Lawrence Jackson ... and two that may surprise you ... Boston College OT Gosder Cherilus, who told me he has spoken to the Colts — think possible replacement for Diem after a year of grooming — and Indiana CB Tracy Porter.

BoilerMacR: I wouldn't think Gosder wouldd fall that low though, do you?

EdThompson: I think he's going to be a second-rounder. Whether or not he's still there late in the round, doubtful. But if he is, the Colts could be compelled to grab him. As for Porter, he's a scrappy guy. And the Colts need to find potential replacements for Jackson or Hayden when they become UFA's. I don't think the Colts have found their solid nickel yet either. Porter would be ideal for that or could at least cover better than Jennings if they want to keep moving Jackson into nickel.

erichartz: What should we make of the Tyler Brayton visit? Do you think the Colts are really after him or just evaluating the market?

EdThompson: The Tyler Brayton visit is for real, serious interest in my opinion. I think he's Josh Thomas plus ... a guy the Colts can use on the end like they did Thomas on run downs. Inside as a backup. With that height he has, he could deflect some passes at the line. I think too many teams are interested in him though. Colts only have $3.3 million right now which is paltry compared to other teams in the running.

tmilohan: From what you hear, do Giordano and Gandy return?

EdThompson: I haven't talked to either one lately. I should call them and check in. I'll make a note to do that. But here's what I think will happen. I'll be surprised to see Gio get another offer simply because he's been an under-the-radar player. He's worth the close to $1 million tender to Indy, but not sure other teams would see that at this point yet.

Gandy is the starter for 2008, based on what I'm hearing. The Colts were smart to use the low tender, which gives them a draft pick if they lose him. If he doesn't get other offers — which is very possible in this year's market that is pretty strong in offensive linemen — the Colts bought themselves a cheap starter.

GonzoBlue: Ed, how do view cory boyd? i thought he had showed some solid skills as basically a part-time back for the Gamecocks especially as a receiver?

EdThompson: Boyd is showing promise, Gonzo. His training camp this year will be interesting. Now that he knows the system, I'm anxious to see if those good instincts he has help move him up on the depth chart.

Charlie Johnson is the Colts' future at right tackle
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Chipperchop: How about Charlie Johnson?

EdThompson: Charlie is a RT, pure and simple. I think that was obvious to most people who watched him struggle a bit on the left side. But he's very capable. I'd have no problem with the Colts dumping Diem and turning the starting RT job to Johnson this year.

tmilohan: Ed what do you hear about TE for the draft, and also Gijon Robinson?

EdThompson: The Colts like Robinson as a blocking TE and a red zone TE. But he's not going to be a major player in the receiving game overall in the near future. I think you can pencil him in to the #3 spot for this year.

TE for the draft, I think Brad Cottam is the most likely candidate if he's there at the end of the third round. But if by any chance Fred Davis is still on the board at the end of the second, the Colts will be tempted to grab him. Can you imagine Clark and Davis in a 2-tight end set?

Chipperchop: Was there any reaction from Colts brass on the combine showing from Dustin Keller?

EdThompson: Nothing official that I know of on Keller. I was supposed to interview him this past week but he had a schedule problem. Hope to get with him soon. But my take is this: He's a Dallas Clark clone, smaller TE with good receiving skills, quick, good athlete. But I don't think the Colts need that in their No. 2 TE. They need someone who can help in the run and pass game equally like Utecht brought to the table.

Chipperchop: How about CJ at RG?

EdThompson: Johnson could be given a shot at RG, but I like him at tackle. He hasn't played guard to my knowledge. Remember, he was a converted TE late in his college career at OK State to OT.

GonzoBlue: Anything on re-signing Seidman? what about corey Hilliard's future? is he strictly a backup either at G or RT?

EdThompson: I'd be surprised to see Seidman re-signed. Think Rocky Calmus. Guy gets signed and is immediately on IR. Polian doesn't have the patience for that anymore unless you're a superstar like Marvin or Bob.

Corey Hilliard is an interesting prospect that I like. He's a bubble guy with potential. This year's camp will be huge for him as well in terms of whether he's got another year on the practice squad or not. But I like his size and athleticism.

tmilohan: Any interest in Rod Coleman for DL? Could we afford him?

EdThompson: I can't see how the Colts can afford Rod Coleman, quite frankly. With just $3.3 million to work with right now, they would have to restructure someone to make a run for him. He's also aging and coming off an injury. Two red flags that are going to make teams cautious about signing him to a big deal.

Chipperchop: How about Diem at RG?

EdThompson: Chipper, moving Diem back inside isn't a bad idea. He's still a road-grader when it comes to run blocking. He's lost a step on pass protection though.

tmilohan: How about Elgin and Ross from the PS? Are they legit prospects to help on the OL?

EdThompson: I don't see much in Elgin or Ross beyond practice squad capability.

tmilohan: What happened to Trent Shelton? Maybe signing Courtney Roby affected his chances?

EdThompson: Shelton failed his physical. Don't know what was wrong with him, but he was released due to some sort of problem.

Roby's a guy with untapped potential. I hope he finally finds it in Indy. Maybe working with the likes of Harrison and Wayne will help him over the hump. I don't know what his problem is since he hit the pro level. The kid has talent.

GonzoBlue: Sorry if it has already been asked, but what about a return of Larry Tripplet?

EdThompson: Tripplett will likely be too expensive as well, and after being a starter in Buffalo, I think he'll prefer to stay in that role if he can find a buyer. Tripplett was going to hit the Bills cap for almost $4 million this year. He's at the level where his base salary alone is $1.8 to $2 million.

Virginia Tech's Eddie Royal is dangerous with the ball in his hands
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

EdThompson: Let me throw out some possible third round guys to you ... Already mentioned Cottam ... Phillip Wheeler, OLB out of GA Tech is another guy I'm high on. Interviewed him twice and am very impressed by this kid. He brings it when it comes to rushing the QB ... Cato June was a guy Wheeler thinks he plays like ... Eddie Royal, WR/RS out of VA Tech ... love this kid. Fast, very mature, would be an upgrade for special teams his rookie year. Probably needs to be a slot receiver due to height, but had one of the top vertical leaps at the Combine. I just interviewed him ... be sure to watch for it as he talks about a certain Colt who is his favorite pro receiver that he tries to pattern his game after ... Red Bryant, big, nasty DT who is a disruptor inside, out of the mold of a Reagor. Best against the run, solid in pass rushing ... WR Jordy Nelson, a guy who runs great routes, real possession receiver. Could be the next Stokley ... In the fourth, a LB I like is Wesley Woodyard out of Kentucky. Just interviewed him as well. Watch for it this week.

tmilohan: Any Justin Tuck clones in the draft? :)

EdThompson: Haven't found one that has convinced me yet, tmi. But I'm continuing to hope to find one as I search this draft class.

GonzoBlue: where would Jamie Silva have to be targeted? its not a need but he is a playmaker and a hole filler as a safety?

EdThompson: I would love to see Silva in a Colts uniform. Terrific kid who just loves the game of football and can knock people into the next county when he hits them. He'd be a huge boost on ST as well.

He's probably going to be off the board by round 4 or 5, so if the Colts want him, they'll likely have to grab him then. He's a playmaker as well with lots of interceptions. Haven't talked to him since seeing him at the Combine, but I hope to do a follow up interview with him in the next couple of weeks.

Did you folks read that cap article Eric put up? The cap adjustments the Colts got really helped them big time. Don't be surprised to see them still try to extend Saturday's deal though. He's in the last year of his contract and is hitting the team for $5 million. An extension would allow them to lower that substantially.

In case you're curious as to how the Colts look compared to their AFC South rivals, here are the numbers: Colts, $3.3 million cap space ... Houston $25.8 million ... Tennessee, $31.7 million ... Jax, $37.4 million ... Think our rivals will be making some gains on talent this year?

tmilohan: Seems like teams could do that every year — although I guess you must account for them against your cap in said year.

EdThompson: tmi, you're right. That clause in the CBA is becoming commonly used now by clubs. And it's smart. If you have extra money this year, it's a trick you can use to still have it available next year.

I was told the Colts put 'likely to be earned' incentives of roughly $5 million in the contract of a young defensive player, knowing that they would have that available as a credit for 2008 since he wouldn't hit it. Very smart.

tmilohan: Ed what do you think of Jax so far? Signed Florence, traded Stroud, got a couple extra picks ...

The Jaguars upgraded at wide receiver with Jerry Porter
Greg Trott/Getty Images

EdThompson: I think the best thing the Jags did so far was add Jerry Porter. He's an upgrade over Wilford, who they lost. Florence is a solid addition as well.

Yeah, Porter was exiled to a lousy passing game in Oakland the last few years. You'll see him come alive again in Jax. Make sure you guys check in daily this week at CP, it's going to be a busy one. I've got roughly ten draft prospect interviews done and ready to roll out this week, including some that have told me they have talked to the Colts.

BoilerMacR: So those cap numbers beg the question re: Marvin Harrison ... that if he's not 100 percent at camp, do we part ways, or will BP and TD not do that to him?

EdThompson: Excellent question, Boiler. I don't think the Colts would push him out. But they may ask to redo his deal if he doesn't make progress with that knee. He's hitting the cap for $12 million this year, almost $8 million in salary. Problem is, he still has lots of prorated bonus money. If they made him a June 1st cut, they'd come out ahead about $3 million this year, but would have to eat roughly $6 million next year.

quezjr: Ed, are we really interested in Randy Moss?

EdThompson: I just don't see him as a fit in Indy from a number of perspectives. And the Colts don't have the money for him.

Chipperchop: A couple of Bayou Bengals that I really like are Chevis Jackson and Craig Steltz ... thoughts?

EdThompson: Jackson's a nice talent who is really pesky as a CB. His speed and not so physical style of play at times might not be a great fit though. He reminds me more of Jason David, a good shadow guy, more than a physical Marlin Jackson or Kelvin Hayden guy. I haven't looked at Steltz closely enough to have an opinion on him yet to be honest with you.

Chipperchop: Any hint of a Rhodes return, possibly?

tmilohan: Warrick Dunn or draft a RB?

EdThompson: I'd be shocked to see them bring Rhodes back. I think they considered it fortunate timing that his contract ran out when it did. Repeated character issues they don't need. I'd draft a RB before I'd grab Dunn. The Colts like adding cheap guys with big upside unless they are in a jam, like they were when they added Booger McFarland. I think they'll find a high value RB in the draft. There are even going to be some good inside runners available late.

BoilerMacR: Ed, have you adjusted your draft position selection order since the combine? What would be your "bet the farm" order of priority at this point?

EdThompson: I can tell you what MINE is, but I don't think it will necessarily match the Colts. They will take the best value pick with that No. 2 and No. 3 pick. I don't think position will play a huge role.

My priority order is RB, DE, WR, TE, DT, MLB ... This team has invested too much money (just look at their cap situation) in talent across the board ... and it could all go down the drain if Addai blows out his knee in Week 2.

Chipperchop: Forte/Rice/Choice are the obvious ... any talk about Jamaal Charles?

EdThompson: I like Jamaal Charles as a Dominic Rhodes type of inside runner. I think he's largely unproven in the passing game though. That doesn't mean he's not capable, I think it just adds a question mark. Love his speed and toughness though.

Chipperchop: Think he's on the radar?

EdThompson: Haven't talked to him and haven't heard a peep yet about any Colts interest in him. I'll have to see who his agent is and see if I can connect with him.

dtrichards: Ed, what are your thoughts of Chris Johnson? And do you think he will be there with our 1st pick?

EdThompson: I just interviewed Chris this week after talking to him at the Senior Bowl and the Combine ... The guy reminds me of Edge both in his physical appearance and as a RB, it's almost weird. Not quite the pass receiver that Edge was, but he's a tough guy who put up the top forty time at the Combine. Seems to have his head on straight. No contact with Indy at the Combine though. His interview should be up on Monday. Chris is another guy that could be there at the end of the second-round, but if he has a big pro day, he could be gone by the time the Colts pick.

ColtsBlueTN: Somewhere during the draft the Colts need to pick up some O linemen. We are very short of personnel there.

EdThompson: You're right, CB ... they need to find Saturday's eventual successor and really need to grab a good interior linemen. They have more potential depth at tackle right now than at guard with Ugoh, Diem, Johnson, Federkiel and Toudouze.

ColtsBlueTN: I just checked the roster at CP and Federkiel isn't there. Did we cut him?

EdThompson: Federkeil is on the 2008 roster. We'll be putting them up soon. Can't recall if he was on the 53-man the last week of the season. That's all we show on the roster.

Cody Wallace could continue the Texas pipeline to the Colts
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Chipperchop: John Sullivan?

EdThompson: I talked to John at the Combine and was impressed by him. Got his phone number and told him I'd do a post-Combine interview with him, so I hope to know more about the Colts interest in him shortly.

He'll probably be a third-rounder, and I guess if the Colts are serious about finding Saturday's successor this year, they could grab him. But both Lilja and Gandy have some center experience if they decide to wait a year.

I also like Cody Wallace out of Texas A&M, and the Colts have been pulling Texas guys of late like Gandy and Key Dawson, so he could be on their radar. He talked to the Colts briefly at the Senior Bowl as well. Very good kid, high character. Probably a fifth-rounder.

tmilohan: Ed, who is a DL that could be there when we pick in the 2nd round, that we'd be interested in?

At DE, Lawrence Jackson from USC may there. And if Darrell Robertson out of GA Tech is still on the board, he's a Colts-type of guy at just 255 pounds. And he's 6 feet, 4 inches, which is an added bonus.

I think there are some interesting DEs who will be available in round three though as well ... Johnny Dingle out of West Virginia, Kendall Langford out of Hampton and Chris Ellis out of VA Tech.

But I have to tell you, a guy who really impressed me at the Combine when I spoke to him was Jeremy Thompson out of Wake Forest ... 6 feet, 5 inches, 265 pounds, very intelligent guy who could probably be snagged in the fourth.

For defensive tackle, second-round guys I like are Notre Dame's Trevor Laws — non-stop motor and is always around the ball ... or Red Bryant out of Texas A&M who is a real run-stuffer. If I had to pick one in the second and they were all available, I'd grab Laws out of the bunch. I think there is good talent in the third and fourth rounds at DE.

ColtsBlueTN: Did Corey Hilliard get any playing time for the Colts last year? I saw a pic of him at LT, don't know when that happened.

EdThompson: CB, I do think Corey got in for a few plays, let me check one resource to confirm ... Hilliard made three game appearances. Don't have that detail or which games he played in. Just was able to verify three game appearances.

EdThompson: Anyone have anything else for today? I'm going to run if we're good. Wrapping up a salary cap piece and prepping some player interview pieces to release and a draft buzz article with team interests in it. Be sure to check in at the site this week, LOTS of great info will be rolling out. All Insiders articles for you great folks who are supporting our efforts. Thank you for that... we'll do it again soon! Talk to you in the Insiders Forum as well.

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