"We always have a bias toward defensive players early in the draft because athleticism is so important to us. And in the early rounds, what you find is athleticism. If you like a defensive player that you think can help the team, you'd better get them in the early rounds because they're not going to last," said team president Bill Polian.
BEST PICK: Defensive end Jerry Hughes: The Colts' first-round draft pick gives the defense something that they haven't had — a third speed rusher off the edge who can rotate with starting defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
COULD SURPRISE: Cornerback/kick returner Ray Fisher: Indianapolis has been looking for a bona fide kickoff and punt return specialist for the past couple of seasons. Fisher has a chance to take over both jobs while also getting work on defense and as a gunner on special teams.
A closer look at the Colts' picks:
Round 1/31 — Jerry Hughes, DE, 6-1, 255, Texas Christian: Expected to make an immediate contribution as the Colts' third edge pass rusher behind starters Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Will see playing time both at hand-on-the-ground defensive end and as a stand-up defensive end as well as on special teams.
Round 2/63 — Pat Angerer, LB, 6-1, 235, Iowa: middle linebacker who is considered to be a clone of Colts starter Gary Brackett. Tough, hard-nosed linebacker who possesses good sideline-to-sideline range. Will get work on special teams to start out.
Round 3/94 — Kevin Thomas, CB, 6-0, 192, USC: Has been favorably compared to Colts' second-year CB Jacob Lacey by team president Bill Polian. Could be used as a nickel corner as well as on special teams.
Round 4/129 — Jacques McClendon, OG, 6-2, 308, Tennessee: Strong run-blocking offensive lineman. Set the University of Tennessee school record by bench-pressing 645 pounds as a junior in 2008. Could end up playing either offensive guard spot.
Round 5/162 — Brody Eldridge, TE, 6-5, 261, Oklahoma: Former Sooner who could provide help as a "point-of-attack" blocker. Doesn't have a lot of experience as a pass receiver but excels with his skills to run and pass block.
Round 7/238 — Ricardo Mathews, DE, 6-1, 289, Cincinnati: Can play both defensive end and defensive tackle. Should be able to rotate inside-out as part of the Colts' defensive line rotation. Could also see playing time on special teams.
Round 7/240 — Kavell Conner, LB, 6-1, 242, Clemson: Undersized outside linebacker who figures to be used first on special teams. Should be able to provide additional depth at weak side linebacker, where he started 27 games in college.
Round 7/246 — Ray Fisher, CB, 5-10, 211, Indiana: The first IU player drafted by the Colts since 1976. Is expected to be used as a kickoff and punt returner. Can also be used as a gunner on coverage units. Was originally recruited to Indiana as a wide receiver.
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