Team President Bill Polian
On his draft experience with Marv Levy in Montreal:
"Marv had a very firm idea of how he wanted to stock the team. There were completely different rules and regulations with respect to both on-field playing rules and personnel rules in the CFL in those days. He had a very firm idea of how he wanted to approach it and how he wanted to build with young players and with players who had minimal NFL exposure, not older veterans and not necessarily signing marquee players out of the United States. As we worked together over the years we simply transferred that plan and approach to how we approached the draft in the NFL, and player acquisition for that matter. It started with Marv and we tried to carry it through, and certainly that was the case with Tony (Dungy) and Jim (Caldwell)."
On the internal variables of the draft room and the draft process:
"Paul Brown said the two most important people are quarterbacks and pass receivers. Without those, you really can't win consistently. Secondly, Marv Levy used to say you want players who are ‘Super Bowl' players, not necessarily ‘Pro Bowl' players, players who contribute to the team and play at a high level week after week. Hype is not an issue. It's a question of how you play. We've, over the years, developed a series of numbers that we think are important, what we call the bottom line. If a player doesn't meet those numbers, it's very difficult, we've figured out statistically and actuality, for a player to play. We've taken that into consideration. Never did we ever have a bias towards players who came from small schools. If a player can play, he can play no matter what level he's at. Finally to quote Tony (Dungy), ‘The most important ability is availability.' People who are not available to you for one reason or another are less valuable than those who are."
On drafting early and late:
"Drafting early has become a huge economic liability. The Commissioner spoke about that this morning. He talked about $600 million committed to players in the first round and $400 million of which is guaranteed. That has tilted the draft dramatically. When you're drafting up high, you're risking a tremendous amount of money in a process that's far from exact. If you bat slightly better than .500 in the draft, and that means the entire seven rounds plus collegiate free agency, the likelihood is that you're going to the playoffs. Those are not odds that I want to bet $400 million on. The increase in rookie salaries, particularly at the top of the round, has skewed the draft and made the risk at the top much, much greater. In addition, that skewing goes all the way through the first round when you start to talk about picks 20 through 28, or 20 through 30. You may be saying, ‘Is this a position we can afford to pay? Is this a player that we want to pay? Is he going to have a second contract?' All of those types of things come into play. That's all part and parcel to the salary cap and the salary system. That has changed everything from what it was when we drafted first in Buffalo in 1985. It changed even more dramatically when we drafted first in 1995. It had changed from when we drafted Peyton (Manning) in 1998. Like everything else in life, it's a changing landscape and you have to adjust to it, and that's what all of us in the National Football League do."
On positions that need depth for the Colts:
"I think pretty much everywhere. You can never have enough quality depth, and while I think we are a pretty good team from top to bottom, I'm not sure we are a good 53-man team at this point in time, which is always what we strive to be. We're close, but we don't know if we're there. Virtually every position probably could use some quality depth. Now, it isn't names on a depth chart. It's quality depth, people who can come in and contribute and win in the National Football League. There's a difference between names on a depth chart and those that can win in the National Football League, and that's what the process is all about."
On drafting a defensive tackle:
"We lost (Quinn) Pitcock and Ed (Johnson), who we felt had essentially answered the question. We were fortunate the pro personnel people, Chris (Polian) and those guys, did a great job coming up with Mookie (DT-Antonio Johnson). It's probably an area where we could use a guy or two. I've always said to you, ‘It's a seven-round plus the free agent process.' Understandably because of your jobs (the media), you view things as a first-round, first-day process. It's a lengthy process, and when it's all over we hope that we've gotten virtually everyone that we signed has an opportunity to contribute."
On if the departure of RB-Dominic Rhodes has changed the way the Colts will look at the draft:
"No. We have people on this squad that can contribute and play. I don't think it forces us to take a running back at all."
On being discouraged if a player tested positive for a banned substance:
"It's all part of a larger mosaic. Because a player tested positive does not necessarily remove him from consideration. We are seeing more and more of, witness (the) Joe Klein column in Time Magazine not too long ago, that the pendulum is beginning to swing a little bit toward the fact that this kind of stuff in some quarters, if not culturally acceptable, at least is not as dramatically unacceptable as it used to be. It seems to be more prevalent culturally than it used to be. Having said that, it's part of a mosaic and it's an important part because it is an indices of, if nothing else, at least not the best judgment in the world. We look at the total picture and say given the positive and the negatives, ‘This player is one that we feel is good for the Colts and this player is not.' We don't make it solely on that one particular instance. All of the rumors that were floating around less than two weeks ago, almost all of them, have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be false. I feel terribly for the young men and for the families that were hurt by those rumors. We don't traffic in rumors. It needs to be proven hard data."
On if he ever reached in the draft:
"Sure. I can't pinpoint one right now but I'm sure we did. It's always a temptation. Sometimes it's good to do it and sometimes it's not. This isn't an exact science, and you're not going to bat .600 much less a thousand. We all make mistakes and I'm at the head of the pack, so I'm sure I did. You tend to forget your mistakes, too."
On what he will do as the draft comes to him and his pick:
"You try to determine today what the lay of the land looks like. It's very muddled because the first eight picks are all in flux depending on at least if you believe the gossip that's floating around where trades may take place. Until you get past Buffalo, you won't have a picture of what's available to us and what may be available to us. Then there's a point where you go past a series of teams where you say, ‘Our guy could go right here or right there.' You just watch it at that point. The first third of the draft you are looking for developments that affect the second and third part of the draft (first round). The middle third of the first round, you begin to presume that you're losing guys that you really like. You are invariably. The last third as it get close to your pick, you begin to sweat, pace and worry about whether you should trade. We planned this all in advance. We'll be ready for any eventuality."
On the difference between franchises that draft well and ones that don't:
"The ones that draft well routinely end up in the playoffs virtually every year. Teams that don't have a difficult time getting there on a consistent basis. Some teams like New England, who are outstanding at it, put themselves in a position to win a championship every year. We have a plan and we stick to it. We try not to deviate from it whenever possible. I suspect New England is the same. I don't want to speak for them, but clearly their results are evidence of that. Miami is another one. Bill Parcells sticks to his principles. He makes the right choices in the right place with the right players, and the results speak for themselves."
On his philosophy of drafting need as opposed to drafting the best player:
"If the lines cross. If the needs and the grade line cross, keeping in mind all of this is subjective at best, if the need line and the grade line crosses, fine. If they don't, take the best player. Take the guy with the highest grade. Frequently, the need line will cross the talent line and you'll be fine."
On his process for drafting a player:
"We decide who we would like to pick under the best of circumstances. Who merits the pick. If no one merits the pick then look to go down. If you can't go down, you pick. That's the process."
On how many guys at No. 27 the Colts are interested in:
"About a half dozen."
On doing a mock draft:
"We only begin to do the mock draft this week. We only get really serious about it starting yesterday. The rest of the time is all, ‘Do we have the players in the right place on the board.' We call the mock draft draft management. We don't get into draft management until Wednesday or Thursday."
On a training camp site update:
"We will be back at Rose-Hulman (the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, the club summer site since 1999). Every coach on the staff and every head coach likes Rose-Hulman very much. So do I, so does Steve (Champlin) so does Craig (Kelley) and everybody that goes to training camp. We really like it a lot. If it is economically feasible and if the circumstances the league dictates via the schedule allows us to go there, that pretty much has been our preference."
Head Coach Jim Caldwell:
"I wanted to say first to Dr. (James G.) Moseley and the staff from Franklin (College) that we're certainly looking forward to coming down later on this spring and having an opportunity to actually conduct a practice on the campus. It will give us an opportunity to get a good feel for a road game, although we'll be playing against one another, and it will give us an opportunity to do a little traveling and get on the bus and head down there and certainly spread a little goodwill as we also conduct business.
"First, I guess it's been somewhere in the neighborhood of a little bit over 100 days, actually, or somewhere around there, it's certainly been a challenging time, an interesting time for me because things have been rather busy, but they've been exciting and been a lot of fun for me as well. We had an opportunity to come in and first of all we had to make certain we took a real good look at our present squad, and I had to familiarize myself with both sides of the ball extremely well, and that process was interesting for me because I had an opportunity to really watch a lot of defensive film, which I had not done previously, and I certainly enjoyed that process sitting down with the staff, etc. Then, also, I had the opportunity to kind of look at overall the special teams with Coach (Ray) Rychleski who is now on our staff, and that has been fun and been an interesting process. We had an opportunity to start our offseason program. It began, we all got together on March 16th and had a squad meeting and had everybody present there except I think Corey Hilliard had just gotten married the day before and then Jeff Saturday was over in Hawaii with the Players Association. But the rest of the guys were there so we had an opportunity to kind of get started off on the right foot in that regard. We started our offseason program on the 30th of March, like we typically do. Year in and year out we've always kind of started at that time to get our 14-week program put together. We're doing things just a little bit differently than we've done previously, but not much. We've kind of taken the first portion of our 14-week program and really focused in on our strength and our conditioning. You may look at that and see that we have a reduced number of summer school practices, but we've tried to kind of take a little bit away from that area and tried to really emphasize on some areas where we think we can get some improvement, in terms of our strength and conditioning areas. So (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Jon Torine and (Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach) Rich(ard) Howell have been really looking at that area, focusing in on it and our work has been great, it's been outstanding. We also decided to take a portion of that and use it for skill development where we could focus in on some of the players individually. The coaches get a chance to meet with them in a classroom setting, but then also some of them, they take them out on the field and do a little skill work individually. And then we'll start our regular summer school practices about the 19th of May."
On how his role has changed on draft day:
"A significant amount, obviously. Last year I had an opportunity to kind of go through the process. I was able to look at how (Colts President) Bill (Polian) and (Former Head Coach) Tony (Dungy) and the rest of the staff put the whole board together, the reasons why they made decisions, etc. It certainly has benefited me quite well this year because I've had an opportunity now to take an active role. I've had an opportunity to review a lot of film, do a lot of evaluations, so it's given me a chance to I think give some input. I don't know if it's meaningful input, but it's input. But I do certainly have a great feel for how we do things just in terms of our selection, and Bill (Polian) and (Vice President of Football Operations) Chris (Polian) and (Director of Player Personnel) Tom (Telesco) and (Senior Consultant to Player Personnel) Dom Anile and the rest of the group and all the scouts do a tremendous job of getting things prepared and certainly do it in a very thorough manner."
On how often he said ‘I need a' and ‘I want this guy' during the draft process:
"Very seldom in our organization do we use the word ‘I.' It's an ‘us' and ‘we' proposition. For the most part, when you look at what we've done from a personnel side to roster management and things of that nature is more of a collective agreement between us. We kind of look at it and see our needs. We discuss those things with everybody, not just our personnel staff, with Bill, etc., but then also the assistant coaches. Schematically, we have to look at it and see where it fits. So it's more or less kind of a corporate sort of discussion that we come to and agree on."
On saying ‘we need this position' or ‘this guy':
"That in particular very seldom comes up because of the fact that our discussions have been long. We started back in the early part after the season ended really discussing personnel matters with everyone. We sit in the room, we talk about it with our trainers, our strength and conditioning staff, and therefore try to look at where we think we may need a little bit of help and try to address those issues throughout the spring."
On what gives him optimism that the team will move ahead with high standards and still improve:
"First of all, when you look at it just overall, we have a very good core of veterans that have been here a length of time, that understand what work is all about. You're absolutely right, you can't stay the same. That's one of the things I've been so excited about, is the fact that how hard the guys are working. Guys are going through this period of time right now trying to find different ways of getting better. The good players and quality players will find ways to get better. Even when you think that they've tapped out, they're far from that, particularly the kind of guys that we have in our organization that are self-motivated individuals that focus in on improvement. Well, that's the same thing we have to do as a staff as well. We look for things where we think we can get a little bit better. We talked about some of the tweaks that we have made in terms of our strength and conditioning area, focusing a little bit more time in that area. Maybe that will give us a little edge. Also, we do some things just in terms of overall from an organization standpoint. ‘Where do we think we can get a little better in terms of classroom time? Do we learn the scheme a little bit better?' Things of that nature. There's a lot that can be done. There's a lot of improvement that can be made, and actually we have to improve tremendously in order to keep up with the individuals in our league, because ‘easy' and ‘NFL' is not synonymous. It's difficult in every stretch of the imagination."
On what he told the team at his first meeting as head coach:
"It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. It was an opportunity for me to kind of address them, and for the most part we've been fairly true to form. Things that we've done before, we re-emphasized some of the things that we believe in, but also I told them the fact is I've been somewhat indoctrinated. Since I've been in this league, the organizations that I've worked for in professional football, Tony (Dungy) has run them. So the way in which we do things, how we do them, I'm a believer in them. Not only that, there are a lot of victories wrapped up in them as well. So we talked about some of those things, but I also told them that obviously there are going to be some changes, a few changes here and there, and maybe there's subtle things just in terms of our schedule, or maybe some things that may be considered somewhat dramatic. But overall, they're very, very subtle changes that we've gone through."
On if the average fan won't notice the changes:
"I certainly hope not. I certainly hope that they notice the things that we've been good at for the last seven years, and I hope they don't notice any change in terms of the number of games that we win. I hope it just keeps escalating. That's the goal."
On why training camp at Rose-Hulman worked for him:
"The facilities are great, and obviously they do a great job just in terms of how they provide an atmosphere that's conducive to getting work done. It's convenient where it's located. Our players can get to and from meeting rooms and practice fields fairly easily. It's just a great atmosphere. We've really enjoyed it and felt that it's been a great place for us to go and conduct business."