On June 7, the Colts claimed quarterback Tom Brandstater off waivers. Brandstater played college ball at Fresno State and was drafted in the sixth round (174th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He spent most of the 2009 offseason on the bubble before being assigned to the practice squad after clearing waivers right before the start of the 2009 season.
There was a great deal of movement on the depth chart for Denver during the 2009 season and Brandstater eventually found himself inactive on game days as the team's third-string quarterback.
He entered the 2010 offseason as the team's third quarterback, even after the Broncos acquired Brady Quinn in a trade with the Browns. Some of you may have heard, though, that Denver drafted Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in the first round of this year's draft.
Tebow was recently promoted to third on the depth chart. With Quinn, Kyle Orton, and Tebow on the roster, the Broncos did not need Brandstater and parted ways with him.
Brandstater was actually taken 27 spots ahead of Curtis Painter, so it's entirely possible that the Colts had an eye on Brandstater heading into the sixth round. When he went off the board, it's possible that they took the next best player at that position in Painter when their pick came along at 201st overall.
When Brandstater became available in late August 2009, they thought enough of Painter to keep him on board and had Jim Sorgi as the top backup to Peyton Manning, so they did not pursue Brandstater at that point.
When he became available this offseason, with Sorgi now departed and Painter not looking unbeatable as the top backup, Indianapolis signed Brandstater and he now becomes Painter's chief opposition for the right to carry the clipboard for the first 16 weeks of the season. Second-year man Drew Willy and rookie free agent Tim Hiller are also in the mix, but the job is now Painter's to lose and Brandstater's to usurp.
At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Brandstater fits the mold of what the Colts are looking for in a quarterback. He also has the classic pocket passer attributes that they seek. He has a stronger arm than Painter and better measurables, but he didn't exactly establish himself in Denver, didn't have spectacular numbers in college, and Painter has the edge of being more familiar with the offense and what the coaching staff is looking for.
In 45 starts with the Bulldogs, Brandstater completed only 59 percent of his passes with 47 touchdowns and 32 interceptions. His 6.9 yard per attempt average throughout his college career also leaves a lot to be desired. The issue with Brandstater is that he certainly looks the part and NFL teams can envision him under center, but the production has never been there.
Painter had better stats in his time at Purdue than Brandstater at Fresno State. That could simply come down to the system that the two quarterbacks played in, but it's also true that Indianapolis would prefer a quarterback that's used to throwing the ball a lot, since that's the type of offense they've historically favored.
Painter was far from impressive in limited action last season, but he still has a sizeable advantage over Brandstater and the field at large. Colts fans that are disappointed with the pedigree of quarterback prospects that have come through Indianapolis the past few seasons have a point. But the man that they need to blame is Peyton Manning, not Bill Polian.
Manning has been so good, so consistent, and so injury free for the past decade that the front office would need to see some serious evidence that No. 18 is slipping before they decide to seek a more suitable replacement. Until Manning starts to show some signs of decline -- and he seems to be getting better as the years go by -- Indianapolis doesn't have a need to funnel resources to a clipboard holder.
Brandstater and players of his ilk will continue to come along until such time as Manning starts to lose something off his fastball. It's possible that Brandstater will dig deep and show the Colts staff something that no one has seen to this point. If so, Polian and company look like geniuses. If not, it's business as usual in Indianapolis.
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