NFL Draft Preview: Colts

With the NFL Draft just a few days away, the Sports XChange highlights the Colts' positions of need and suggests a few players that might be a good fit in Indy.

Draft Strategy:

Get bigger and more physical on the offensive line. Improve play at left offensive tackle. Find more depth at cornerback. Bring in a potential big play making defensive end who is quick and athletic enough to rotate with starters Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis but also has the strength to move inside when needed.

The Indianapolis Colts are expected to stand pat with the 31st pick in the first round. Indianapolis team president Bill Polian isn't very reactionary when it comes to what other teams do. Unless there is a special player available a few spots ahead of the Colts' current position, they will make do with the 31st pick.

Polian sticks to what's on the Colts' draft board and won't vary far from what their system dictates they do. They have been known to pull a surprise or two with the first round pick, opting to take the best player available on their board at the time of their pick rather than drafting solely on need at a particular position.

Perhaps the best examples of that came in 2001, when Indianapolis took WR Reggie Wayne rather than going for supposed defensive help, and a year ago when RB Donald Brown was selected. The Colts had taken RB Joseph Addai in the first round only three years earlier.


Offensive line: Revamp the Colts' offensive line philosophy from recent years, going from small, quick and athletic to big and physical. Indianapolis, however, isn't about to move away from athleticism and quickness from their offensive lineman. While team officials desperately want to improve the running game by being more physical at the point of attack, the first order of business — as always — is to protect the franchise, four-time league MVP Peyton Manning.

Defensive end: It's been known for a while that the Colts' outside pass rush starts with DE Dwight Freeney. When Freeney is unavailable due to injury or is playing hurt, opposing teams have a much easier time of game planning their blocking assignments.

He usually attracts double and sometime triple blocking schemes, leaving DE Robert Mathis one-on-one with an offensive tackle. The Colts could use another play-making speed rusher from the outside who can rotate with Freeney and Mathis. If he can move inside on occasion and be productive, so much the better.

Cornerback: Gone are CBs Marlin Jackson (Philadelphia) and Tim Jennings (Chicago). While the Colts do return veteran CB Kelvin Hayden along with second-year CBs Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey, improving the team's overall depth at the position will be key.

Indianapolis could use a bigger, physical cornerback to fill the role that Jackson had with the Colts, matching up against some of the league's taller and athletic wide receivers.

Linebacker: Finding a versatile linebacker who can step in and be a quality backup at all three positions — strong side, middle and weak side — could be on the Colts' wish list this year.

If veterans Freddie Keiaho and Tyjuan Hagler — both restricted free agents — are not re-signed, finding help specifically at strong side and middle linebacker would be good.

Nice fits: C Maurkice Pouncey, CB Jerome Murphy, DE Alex Carrington.

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