Cashing In On Compensatory Picks

The compensatory selections were announced last week and, by virtue of the fact that they lost more players than they signed last year in free agency, the Colts have some extra selections this year. Will Bill Polian be able to cash in?

At the owner's meetings last week in Palm Beach, the compensatory selections were announced for the 2008 draft and the Colts are the proud recipients of three additional sixth-round draft picks.

ColtPower has covered a number of intriguing prospects that could go undrafted or be late second-day picks recently, but wanted to choose from the top three with these "free" selections.

Here's a list of the three players Indianapolis should choose to get the best compensation.

Carlton Powell, Defensive Tackle, Virginia Tech:

While he's a little big for Indianapolis at 6 feet, 2 inches and 301 pounds and a little slow with a 5.14 time in the 40-yard dash, measurables may not be everything. Ed Johnson will attest to that — at 6 feet, 2 inches and 296 pounds, Powell is basically Johnson's twin.

Carlton Powell
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Powell may not have the measurables and the statistics, but that does not mean he isn't a productive player.  In Virginia Tech's scheme, it is the tackle's responsibility to tie up two men at the line of scrimmage and hold the point of attack so that the linebackers and safeties can flow to the football.

He fulfills this function exceptionally well — of the 73 running plays to his side in 2007, the opposing team actually lost yardage for the season, with a total of negative 21 yards when they went in his direction.

Since Anthony McFarland is most likely out of the picture for the long term and no one knows if Ed Johnson has a repeat performance in store for Colts fans this season, it makes sense to take a similar player in Powell.

While he may, like Johnson last year, go undrafted, Indianapolis would be wise to use one of their "free" selections to make sure they secure him.

With the new emphasis by commissioner Roger Goodell on the anti-tampering rules, it will be more difficult for teams to agree in principal with undrafted players before Mr. Irrelevant is chosen and Powell is too good of a fit for the Colts to chance losing once the free-for-all begins after the draft ends.

Jordan Senn, Strong Safety, Portland State:

Senn has impressed in previous workouts with a 4.53 second 40-yard dash, a 4.11 second short shuttle, and a 36.5" inch vertical jump.

Jordan Senn
AP Photo/Benjamin Sklar

But, at 5 feet, 11 inches and 225 pounds, he's probably too small to play linebacker — his position in college — at the NFL level, even for a team such as the Colts that likes to use smaller, faster players in their front seven.

Quite often, scouts and teams speak of taking the "best athlete available." Given his numbers and his college production, Senn would definitely qualify for that honor, particularly towards the tail end of the sixth round when the Colts are playing with house money.

It's entirely possible, even likely, that Senn will bust out and not be on the roster when the season opens in 2008, nonetheless 2009 and beyond.

But, it's also possible that he could go undrafted, have something to prove, and, after a lengthy pep talk from fiery former coach Jerry Glanville, take the league by storm, if only as a special teams contributor at first.

The bottom line is that his upside is too high, Indianapolis needs serious help on special teams in terms of the coverage units, and they have the luxury of bringing Senn along slowly and allowing him to learn under Pro Bowl alternate Antoine Bethea, Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders, and kicking game ace Matt Giordano.

With a compensatory selection, the Colts have everything to gain and nothing to lose ... which is why it makes sense to take a chance on a player like Jordan Senn.

Mackenzy Bernadeau, Guard, Bentley College:

Another small school prospect with tremendous upside, Bernadeau played tackle for the majority of his career, but lacks ideal height (6 feet, 3 1/2 inches) and weight (298 pounds) to play the position at the NFL level and grades out as a guard prospect in this year's draft.

Mackenzy Bernadeau
Photo: SportsPix

Even though Dylan Gandy seems poised to step in for the departed Jake Scott and Ryan Lilja signed a long-term contract in the offseason, Indianapolis could certainly use some depth, some youth and, in all honesty, some cheap labor at the guard position.  Bernadeau seems like just the ticket.

Given the fact that he played against a lower level of competition at Bentley and that he missed the final seven games of the 2007 season with a knee injury, he will be sliding down the boards of a number of teams and will probably be rated as a seventh-round pick or a priority free agent. 

But, he certainly has value to the Colts, since he ran the short shuttle in 4.56 seconds — an excellent time for a man his size and a full .7 seconds faster than his 40 yard dash, which shows that he has excellent lateral movement and should be able to pull and slant in the running schemes that Indianapolis deploys, as well as kick to the outside to pick up a blitzer in the passing game — and he posted very respectable time of 1.76 seconds in the 10-yard dash.

To put the 1.76 number in perspective, most receivers run that drill in about a second and a half and top offensive line prospect Jake Long registered a time of 1.75 seconds.  This means that Bernadeau possesses elite-level short area quickness, which the most important kind of quickness to have for a lineman.

In the Information Age, though, it is unlikely that Bernadeau will slip through the cracks and that the Colts will need to secure their rights to him before the final bell sounds in Radio City Music Hall.

He is simply too important a prospect with too bright a future in the Indianapolis offense to allow him to slip away.  Bernadeau is actually a priority, regardless of compensatory selection or not; if the Colts see that he might be taken earlier, they should draft him with their fifth round selection or their non-compensatory sixth round selection.

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