The unexpected retirement of Quinn Pitcock before the 2008 season and the release of Ed Johnson two weeks into the season left a void at the position that Indianapolis was unable to fill. Eric Foster should get an A for effort, but was asked to do too much too quickly and Antonio Johnson made significant progress as the season wore on.
However, neither is the long-term answer at the defensive tackle position and Raheem Brock and Keyunta Dawson seem as though they're better suited to play defensive end or work as part of a rotation. Put simply, the team needs to overhaul the position and acquire some long term starters and reserves.
One only needs to take a look at the list of prospects the Colts have talked to so far in order to discover that they are very serious about addressing the tackle position in this year's draft.
They've had visits, workouts, or interviews with players projected draft positions from first round to undrafted, so they have options at every level of the draft. They will likely select a defensive tackle in the first day and most likely come out of the draft having taken two tackles, if not three.
2. Wide Receiver:
The release of Marvin Harrison breaks up the usual triumvirate of talented receivers that they've had for most of this decade, with Harrison generally being a key component. After starters Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez, there isn't a whole lot of experience or explosiveness on the roster.
An injury to Gonzalez or Wayne could be devastating to the team's aerial attack
AP Photo/Denis Poroy
While Tom Moore could certainly get creative, deploy more two tight end sets, and use Dallas Clark as the slot receiver and slide either Jacob Tamme, Tom Santi, or Gijon Robinson into Clark's tight end spot, the fact remains that there isn't any depth behind Wayne and Gonzalez if one of them gets hurt.
This is another position where the Colts have taken a look at a number of prospects at various levels of the draft. Indianapolis will address it, most likely in the first day, but certainly in the first three rounds. They tend to address a need at the receiver position in the first round, so keep an eye out for that.
Kelvin Hayden just signed a long term contract and is healthy, but every other other cornerback has a contract that expires in the next two years, is coming back from injury, or both.
There are too many short-term and long-term questions about the position for the Colts not to address it — and address it early, possibly often — in this year's draft.
Since they have higher priorities at other positions, don't expect them to repeat their actions of 2005, where they drafted Marlin Jackson and Hayden in the first two rounds, but it would not be an upset for them to draft two cornerbacks and three defensive backs overall.
But with lots of needs at their top five positions and only eight total selections, they will need to pick their spots.
4. Running Back:
Jim Caldwell has repeatedly mentioned that he is optimistic about the possibility of bringing Dominic Rhodes back for the 2009 season. But, even if they sign him to a one-year or two-year deal, he's still a short-term solution to a long-term problem and his signing would simply delay the decision point for the Colts front office.
Joseph Addai has yet to play a 16-game season, no one can be certain that Mike Hart will come back from last year's knee injury at 100 percent, and anyone that thinks Chad Simpson, Lance Ball, or Kenton Keith is the future has more positions of need than the Colts. Indianapolis needs a quality insurance plan for the short term and the long term.
That insurance plan may very well be Hart, but his future will not be fully determined until long after the draft has concluded, so they need to select a running back in the draft.
With the re-signing of Tyjuan Hagler, this becomes less of a need position and more of a want position. However, the Colts are still minus Freddy Keiaho and Buster Davis for the offseason, so they need to re-stock the cabinets if nothing else.
Injuries and depth are always a concern with the type of defense Indianapolis plays and the size of player they usually use at the linebacker position. Playing linebacker for the Colts requires a lot of movement, a lot of explosive contact, and a fair amount of collisions.
For a player that is 6-feet-2 and 245 pounds, the wear and tear of a season shows less. For someone that is 5-feet-11 and 235 pounds (or less), the nagging injuries tend to get exacerbated and someone else needs to step in.
At a minimum, Indianapolis needs to draft — or sign as an undrafted free agent — that "someone else," as they have taken to the field with only four or five active linebackers too many times the past two seasons.
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