Bill Polian made the trip to West Lafayette at least twice this season to see Painter in person, so he is very familiar with the Boilermaker's strengths and weaknesses.
Painter was on the fast track to becoming a first- or second-round selection heading into his senior year, with a chance to build on strong sophomore and junior campaigns. However, he struggled throughout the 2008 season, much like the Purdue squad as a whole, and finished with only 13 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions.
QB Curtis Painter
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For his career, he played in 46 games and threw for 11,163 yards and tossing 67 touchdown passes versus 46 interceptions. He also rushed for 13 touchdowns, which is not too shabby when you consider that he's definitely not a running quarterback, though he did have 225 rushing attempts in his four seasons.
Although those are not necessarily the greatest statistics in the history of the NCAA, he has more passing yards, starts, and touchdown passes than either Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez ... and is about the same weight.
While his mechanics could use some work and he does not have the kind of arm strength that Stafford and Sanchez have, he is also not 200 picks worse than Stafford and 196 picks worse than Sanchez. This is a good value pick for Indianapolis, as Peyton Manning is not going anywhere any time soon, but also can't play forever.
And, at some point, the Colts will have to acknowledge that Jim Sorgi is not the future and move on.
Painter may not be the player that inspires them to move on, but he represents a step in the right direction as well as recognition from the Indianapolis staff that draft choices and effort must be allocated towards finding a suitable back-up should anything happen to Manning.
Pat McAfee, Punter, West Virginia:
He is listed as a punter, since he did quite a bit of punting in college. Also, everyone naturally assumes that Indianapolis would have no interest in using him as a placekicker.
He ended his career at WVU with 126 punts for 5,512 yards (43.7 yard average), but also was 58 out of 79 on field goal attempts (73.4% success rate). Since his collegiate success rate was actually below the NFL average for last season — he would've been ranked 35th among NFL kickers in 2008 — and that his career success rate is nine percent lower than Adam Vinatieri's career success rate, it is highly unlikely that he will replace Vinatieri.
But, with Hunter Smith having signed with the Washington Redskins in the offseason, McAfee only needs to get through Mike Dragosavich in order to secure a spot on the roster. Dragosavich has a strong leg and a great deal of upside — as well as a year of professional experience — to his credit, but was signed more on potential than results.
Since McAfee could also handle kickoff duties for an aging Vinatieri, that gives him the early edge on Dragosavich heading into mini-camps. The Colts discovered the importance of having a talented and powerful player punting the football in the Divisional Round of last year's playoffs, so they will place a great deal of emphasis on the position heading into 2009. That bodes well for McAfee. May the best man win.
Jaimie Thomas, Offensive Lineman, Maryland:
Thomas appeared in 47 games with 25 starts in his college career. He played some tackle, but all of his starts came at left guard. He is an interesting prospect because his size would dictate that he play either right or left tackle.
Thomas prepares to run the 40 at the Combine
At 6-feet-4 and 323 pounds, he may be a little shorter than some teams like to have their tackles, but the key is that he has a 78 inch wingspan and his arms measured in at 35 inches at the Combine, longer than Jason Smith, Eben Britton, William Beatty, or Michael Oher.
He lacks the kind of athleticism that the players drafted ahead of him have, as he ran his 40 in 5.22 seconds, so that was a reason he didn't get taken sooner. He also could stand to get stronger, with only 20 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press.
He is also a man without a true position — too big to play guard, but not athletic enough to play tackle — which makes him difficult to project at the NFL level. As a third- or fourth-round selection, Thomas would offer more questions than answers and selecting him would be worthy of a head scratch for Colts fans.
But, as a seventh-round pick, he has a great deal of upside, could add depth at numerous positions, and simply needs to get stronger in order to be successful.
Indianapolis has put him in a position to succeed. What he does from there is up to him.