Grading the draft: Indianapolis Colts

If 2004 proved anything to Colts fans it was that a great offense is not enough to beat the New England Patriots. Despite breaking an array of offensive records the disparity between the Colts and Patriots was evident in the playoffs. With the team mostly inactive during the free agency period building through the draft is the only way the Colts can close the gap. So with ten draft choices the Colts took yet another step at hopefully becoming the AFC's best team.

Marlin Jackson was the Colts first round selection and the physical cornerback, who has also played free safety, instantly becomes the Colts best defensive back. Should Jackson dedicate himself totally to football he has all the tools to be a terrific cornerback in Tony Dungy's system. Kelvin Hayden of Illinois was the Colts second cornerback in as many selections. A prospect that Bill Polian zeroed in on for some time, Hayden offers as much upside potential as Jackson but is considerably more green. In time these two cornerbacks should start and could offer the franchise a lethal duo. Vincent Burns is a smallish defensive end the Colts took to play  tackle. It is difficult to see how the former Kentucky Wildcat can be effective on the inside and most analysts had Burns rated as a second day selection. Guard Dylan Gandy will provide interior line depth while being given an opportunity to start in the future. Gandy along with North Dakota State center Rob Hunt should help solidify the teams interior offensive line after several seasons of upheaval. Cal safety Matt Giordano is a feisty run defender that could have an impact on special teams. Wisconsin's Jonathan Welsh gives the team another smallish but athletic defensive end. Welsh could develop into a strong side linebacker for the team and is a prospect with tremendous upside. Cincinnati Bearcat linebacker Tyjuan Hagler is another special teams gem and has the stature and style Dungy likes on defense. Wisconsin tailback Anthony Davis should have no problems being the teams third tailback. His versatility will give him plenty of opportunity and he was good value. Michigan State kicker Dave Rayner will be given a shot at beating out Mike Vanderjagt, whom the team is not happy with.

The Colts clearly addressed their problem areas in the draft, especially on defense. Selecting talented cornerbacks early in the draft puts them in a better position to compete with the Patriots. Several of the middle round selections, namely Vincent Burns and Jonathan Welsh, project better to a 3-4 defense so it will be interesting to see if the team experiments with similiar packages this season as they have the talent along the edges to make it work.

RD   Pick Player Pos School
1   29 (29)   Marlin Jackson *   CB   Michigan  
2   28 (60)   Kelvin Hayden *   CB   Illinois  
3   29 (92)   Vincent Burns *   DE   Kentucky  
4   28 (129)   Dylan Gandy   C   Texas Tech  
4   34 (135)   Matt Giordano   FS   California  
5   12 (148)   Jonathan Welsh   OLB   Wisconsin  
5   29 (165)   Rob Hunt   C   North Dakota State  
5   37 (173)   Tyjuan Hagler *   OLB   Cincinnati  
6   28 (202)   Dave Rayner   K   Michigan State  
7   29 (243)   Anthony Davis *   RB   Wisconsin  

UDFA Signings: RB Marcus Wiliams, WR Davon Fowlkes, WR Levon Thomas, WR Kerry Wright, TE Joey Hawkins, TE Tory Humphrey, OT Lou Lombardo, OG Cody Campbell, OG Jason Russell, OG Matt Ulrich, DE Darrell Reid, DE Justin Brown, DT Blake Lobel, LB Nick Hannah, LB Chris Laskowski, CB Jerome Dennis

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