Doug Datish was originally drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. He missed all of last season after suffering a broken wrist in the preseason and never appeared in a regular season game for a Falcons team that definitely could have used the help on the offensive line.
He was released on June 23 and did not need to wait long for the phone to ring, as the Colts claimed him off waivers on June 26.
Indianapolis was towards the bottom of the waiver wire, so a number of teams passed on Datish before he became available to the Colts.
There are two basic schools of thought on Datish:
1. He's still a young player that can play both guard positions and center, so he has value.
2. A Falcons team in desperate need of both youth and help along the offensive line decided to cut ties with him instead of keeping him at the bargain price of $370,000 for a second-year player at the league minimum.
Doug Datish lines up against Northwestern during a 2006 game
It's easy to look at the situation and argue that, if a bad team like the Falcons didn't want him and decided to use the roster spot on someone else, a good team like the Colts would be even less likely to keep Datish around.
Worse yet, it could be argued that, as the roster maximums decrease in size incrementally from 80 players to 53 players, a young player that Indianapolis drafted that has more potential will be released so that Datish could be given another chance.
Those arguments would fall short, though, since Datish has a lot more going for him than the average young player.
In last year's draft database, Tom Marino rated Datish as the sixth-highest center prospect and added, "A former offensive guard whose forte is his guile and versatility."
In other words, for what he may lack in athletic ability, he makes up for in attitude and the flexibility he gives the coaching staff. He could end up as the top backup at one of the guard positions or at center, or he could end up as a swing man, able to play any of the interior positions on the offensive line, much like Charlie Johnson was last season a the tackle position.
So, why he was shown the door in Atlanta? It may come down to something as simple as the fact that he no longer fit the Falcons offensive system — remember that he was drafted by former head coach Bobby Petrino and new head coach Mike Smith is already in the process of purging previous draft classes and getting more of "his kind of guys" on the roster.
If one simply goes by his scouting profile going into the 2007 draft — which is what we have to go off of primarily, since he saw almost no professional action last season — he is considered more of an effort player and a technician.
Even at 6-feet-2, 302 pounds, he is not particularly powerful and was overwhelmed — and even knocked over — at times during his career at Ohio State. It would make sense that a coach with a defensive, attacking, smash-mouth mentality such as Smith would not want player like that on his team and would want more of a mauler at the center or guard position.
The Colts, though, prefer hard workers, self-made players, and gentlemen that have collegiate experience working in a pro-style offense.
As a fifth-year senior when he declared for last year's draft and someone who has been through a full offseason, a training camp, and a full NFL season — even if he was injured, he still picked up more valuable knowledge than any rookie currently on the Colts roster — he holds a decided advantage over all the new faces along the offensive line for Indianapolis that were brought in since April 26th.
He may be at a physical disadvantage, though the assumption is that his wrist must have healed since last August and that he was able to get back in the weight room.
Once more information filters in on Datish and as the offseason practices continue, everyone will have a better idea of what exactly he brings to the table.
At the moment, however, it certainly appears that, for the Colts, he brings a great deal more than, "a guy that even the Falcons didn't want."