Grading the Draft: Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have been in dire need of defense since the selection of Peyton Manning in 1998. This was never more evident then after the shellacking they took from the Jets in the first round of the playoffs. So with several high profile defensive linemen, linebackers and cornerbacks available to them at pick 24 the decision was easy….

Round Pick Player Pos School
1 24(24) Dallas Clark* TE Iowa
2 26(58) Mike Doss S Ohio St.
3 26(90) Donald Strickland CB Colorado
4 25(122) Steve Sciullo OT Marshall
5 3(138) Robert Mathis OLB Ala. A&M
5 27(162) Keyon Whiteside ILB Tennessee
6 25(198) Cato June S Michigan
6 35(208) Makoa Freitas OG Arizona

Taking Dallas Clark in the first round was very surprising. Yes, Clark compares favorably to Ken Dilger, a player the franchise sorely misses, and he adds another pair of reliable hands for Peyton Manning. But the fact remains teams win championships with defense and after losing Mike Peterson in free agency, the unit is worse off than it was 12 months ago, when the situation was not that good. Expect Clark to have a good rookie year and except opponents to score points against the Colts in bunches.

Getting Mike Doss in round two makes the Clark choice a little easier to take. Doss can be an impact safety with his bone-crunching hits and ability to play over the slot receiver in pass coverage. Yet his penchant of falling asleep on the field caused his drop down draft boards. This is definitely a player Dungy can work with.

Choosing Donald Strickland to round out the first day was a good move. Strickland lacks the top size but is a solid cover-corner, effective backed off the line of scrimmage, and has the mentality and intellect Dungy wants in his corners.

Besides defense, a monster, run blocking guard has been a need for the Colts the past few years and Steve Sciullo could be the answer. A left tackle at Marshall, Sciullo is best in confined quarters and did relatively well when placed at guard during Senior Bowl practices.

Since the beginning of last season Robert Mathis was one of our sleepers. Though he lined-up in a three point stance at defensive end, Mathis displayed the playing speed, intensity and instinct to make the move off the ball to linebacker. Granted, he's a major project but worth a fifth round pick and a prospect that could reap big dividends down the road.

Keyon Whiteside is another with good football intelligence and an inexpensive back-up at middle linebacker, if not a replacement for Rob Morris, whom the franchise is growing weary of.

Cato June is an explosive safety best in a straight-line and a prospect that could be tried at weak-side linebacker. Makoa Freitas is a lineman we've liked for three years. He's an athletic tackle with good feet that could be moved inside to guard but must improve his bulk and playing strength to be anything other than a back-up.

The Colts signed several solid receiving prospects after the draft including Paul Arnold and Carl Morris as well as a pair of underrated safety's in Calvin Carlyle of Oregon State and Anthony Floyd of Louisville.

Analysis: When one looks at this draft they get the idea that the offense was in need of a facelift, rather than the defense. If Doss turns into an impact safety then they made the right move taking a chance on Clark in round one but overall, expect the Colts to surrender a lot of points this season…again.

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