AFC Draft Recap - Indianapolis Colts

The easiest way to the playoffs is to win your division. The Jaguars seem poised to challenge for their first division title since 1999, but if they're going to do so they must first dethrone the five-time defending AFC South champion Colts. JagNation is going to take a closer look at what the Colts did in their draft.

Although Colts president and general manager Bill Polian may not be unanimously liked across the entire NFL, especially in Jacksonville, there's absolutely no denying that he has been a major reason for the Colts success, with his spectacular track record in the draft. Indianapolis isn't the first place Polian has had success, as he helped build the Buffalo Bills teams of the early 90's which went to four consecutive Super Bowls. Following his stop in Buffalo, Polian went on to Carolina, in which he built a team that appeared in the NFC Championship Game in just their second year of existence. He then went on to Indianapolis, in which his draft picks yielded Pro Bowlers Tarik Glenn, Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Cato June, Bob Sanders, and Joseph Addai.

The Colts had nine selections in April's draft, five of which were in the sixth-round or later. Indianapolis appeared to go with a best available player philosophy, as they used their only day one pick, the 59th selection overall (second-round) on former Arizona State center Mike Pollack. Pollack was rated as one of the top two centers on most scout's boards, and although the 6'3", 300 pounder will likely not be a first-year starter, he should be able to step in for Jeff Saturday when he decides to hang up his spikes. Scout.com NFL draft expert and former NFL scout Tom Marino gave his scouting report on Pollak–

A good serviceable football player, but I didn't think he was particularly strong or effective at the point of attack. but going to have some real problem with big people inside. Is smart, experienced took good angles and plays on his feet. On pass pro, looked around well, was a good knee bender and overall athletic skills. Not a nasty individual and is never going to be a big finisher, but has solid play skills and should become a steady swingman inside. Round 4 - 5.

With their third-round pick (#93 overall), the Colts selected former Georgia Tech outside linebacker Philip Wheeler. ColtPower.com publisher Eric Hartz gave a few thoughts about the Colts newest linebacker-- "Wheeler appears to be a tackling machine (89 tackles in 2007), and is a versatile addition to a young linebacking corps. He could be considered at middle linebacker for the Colts' defense, after the team released backup Brandon Archer, and could eventually spell Gary Brackett, or eventually replace him in the middle."

Scout.com NFL draft expert and former NFL scout Tom Marino gave his scouting report on Wheeler– A great young man (quiet and humble). Lacks prototype size for inside play (good natural leverage) . Plays physical, but has to be covered up or protected. Questionable to take on lead (lacks strength). Just looked adequate in coverage. Didn't react or make plays on the ball. In zone, I thought he was slow to react. Was somewhat disappointed in his overall play (thought I was going to see a more athletic, instinctive player. Round 3 - 4 draft consideration.

In round four, the Colts opted for former University of Kentucky tight end Jacob Tamme. Tamme could be a suitable backup for star tight end Dallas Clark, and should get some immediate reps, as Indianapolis lost Ben Utecht in free agency. Scout.com's Tom Marino, a veteran scout with over 35 years of NFL experience, gave his scouting report on Tamme--

Tamme could be a very effective player in the right system. He has excellent straight-line speed, can run, and catch the ball outside his body. He's very skilled at finding the soft spot in a zone, will settle in and make himself a good target, and has good ball skills when the pass comes in his direction. He's a very smart player with great intangibles that has enough speed to stretch the vertical seam.

In rounds five through seven, the Colts selected former Georgia linebacker Thomas Howard (fifth-round, #161 overall), former Virginia tight end Tom Santi (sixth-round, #196 overall), former Wake Forest center Steve Justice (sixth-round, #201 overall), former Michigan running back Mike Hart (sixth-round, #202 overall), former Mount Union wide receiver Pierre Garcon (sixth-round, #205 overall), and former Buffalo center Jamey Richard (seventh-round, #236 overall).

Here are some scouting reports on the Colts late-round selections– [Howard is] highly explosive and [has] the speed to pose a real problem for a lot of tackles in nickel. Physical explosive tackler ... Plays fast and is very tough, but can never be an every-down guy ... Robert Mathis clone. (Tom Marino) "Santi, we think, can fill the role that Utecht played for us," Colts president Bill Polian told the NFL Network shortly after the pick. "So it's a question of bringing in new players where we lost valuable contributors and bulk it up for us. We wanted to solidify that tight end position and make sure we had the right people and weapons around Peyton [Manning]."

Steve Justice has a pre existent condition which required his parents had to sign a waiver in order to play at Wake each season (no apparent effect in his play). Has athletic ability, experience and intelligence. Good athlete with toughness. Can reach effectively playside. Had problems with big people on his nose. Lacks core strength and rear power. Solid football player who could develop into a steady professional. (Tom Marino)

Mike Hart is a tough I-back who consistently moved the chains inside. Got north-south runner quickly while showing good physical toughness. Is undersized (short but very thick) and does not have the necessary speed. Has done it at the highest level for his entire career showing natural run instincts. Decision making was questionable. A big concern is his work load (1,015 carries) over a 4 year career. Only so many war in a little man's body. Second day draft consideration. (Tom Marino)

Garcon is a very impressive athlete that dominated his level of competition. But he was also very effective when he lined up against the big boys in all-star games. He needs a good deal of positional work from a coaching standpoint, but he has the potential to be a very successful NFL player if he works hard. (Tom Marino)

Jamey Richard is a limited athlete, but is tough, strong and very physical ... gets after people and showed better than expected upper body leverage. Took good angles to second level but was inconsistent to sustain [blocks] ... will also overplay and miss the target. (Tom Marino)

Indianapolis certainly didn't have the "sexiest" draft of any NFL team as they took three centers, two tight ends, and a pair of linebackers, but you certainly can't argue with their past success in this department.


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