Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quick hits

• What luck, the Colts need wide receivers, defensive tackles and offensive tackles and those are the strongest sets of draftable players this year. They could also use another halfback, but all of them — except Boise State’s Ian Johnson — ran disappointing times at the Combine. Maybe that’ll shake someone down to a lower round.

• Even if he could bounce back, and even if he wasn’t going to be 37 before training camp, did anyone really think Marvin Harrison was worth $13.4 million a year? For comparison, Reggie Wayne is due $7.44 million.

• Halfbacks who try to come back to quickly after an ACL injury tend to be disappointing or prone to re-injury. The Colts really like what Mike Hart can do, so they are unlikely to rush him back. I wouldn’t expect to see him on the field before the second half of next season.

• Did you get a load of USC kicker David Buehler at the Combine? Kid ran a 4.56 and repped 25 times. The Colts do have a fondness for athletic kickers, and are in need of a kickoff specialist. Still, if they grab a strong-legged punter like SMU’s Thomas Morstead or Texas A&M’s Justin Brantly, that point could be moot. And I wouldn’t totally count out a return by Hunter Smith, either. I don’t know how many offers he’ll get from other teams, and he is a Hall of Fame-level holder (if that were a category). The only problem is that, as a 10-year veteran, he won’t be cheap.

• Don’t count out little-known receiving prospect Taj Smith who was signed from the practice squad. ColtPlay will have more on him later.

• If I make a mock please feel free to comment and criticize, but don’t tell me “he’ll be available in another round” — nobody knows that. Remember, just days before the 2005 draft Kelvin Hayden was projected as a seventh rounder but was picked in the second, while Brandon Browner was projected as a second rounder, but went undrafted.

• Speaking of the 2005 draft (and how little the media actually knows about players), I was reading one of my old draft guides and it labeled Marlin Jackson as a “major character risk,” while giving top behavior marks for Adam “Pacman” Jones.

You can’t just look at one incident (especially if it’s just alleged). Instead, do a little homework. Look to see if he’s getting his degree, check out his major, find out what he does off the field, look up what his coaches have to say about him and read or listen to his comments in interviews. Even then, it’s just a sketch.

• Don’t expect to see the Colts go after too many interior linemen in this draft. Even if Jeff Saturday departs, they have Ryan Lilja, Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard, Steve Justice and Charlie Johnson for three starting spots. And the arrow is definitely pointing up on all three second-year players. Of course Johnson could be needed at tackle, and I don’t see why Richard — who is built more like an NBA power forward than an NFL center — doesn’t get a few practice reps there either, although he hasn’t played outside since high school.

• Sure Hayden’s signed, but Jackson and Tim Jennings will be free agents after next season and Keiwan Ratliff is still without a contract. The other corners on the roster have been disappointing at best. Expect one or two picks at this position, but not necessarily a high one.

• Bill Polian said what I always believed about defensive tackles. He said that the prime beef is snapped up in the first 10-15 picks and that value doesn’t re-emerge until the later rounds. So now you have to wonder if he actually believes that (as his draft track record would indicate), or if he’s blowing smoke (as he has many times before). It’s really frustrating.

• With Gijon Robinson and Tom Santi on the roster, the Colts won’t be in the market for an actual fullback again this year. They’ll probably sign at least one as an UDFA, but his chances of making the roster will be slim.

• This year’s tender numbers for restricted free agents are:

$1.010 million/Right of first refusal, original draft round compensation
$1.545 million/Right of first refusal, 2nd round compensation
$2.198 million/Right of first refusal, 1st round compensation
$2.792 million/Right of first refusal, 1st and 3rd round compensation

The Colts’ only current restricted free agents are Dan Federkeil and Freddie Keiaho. The Colts have invested a lot of time in the former U of Calgary Dinosaur and the pride of Medicine Hat, but Federkeil hasn’t really paid them back with great play. He offers decent depth at right tackle and guard, but isn’t really a threat to take over anyone’s starting position. The Colts would probably like to keep him, but I think $1.01 mill might be a bit rich and quite a raise from the $445,000 he made last year. Besides, he was undrafted, so they’d be paying only for right of first refusal. More likely, they offer him no tender, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. That way, they could negotiate a cheaper deal for him, as he’s unlikely to get too many offers elsewhere.

Keiaho is a slightly different story. A capable starter at Will who can play Sam or Mike in a pinch, the Colts will be more inclined to keep him. That is, unless they think that Phillip Wheeler, Jordan Senn or a draft pick is ready to start in his place. The $1.01 million tender would give the Colts a third-round pick as compensation while a second-rounder would cost them an extra $535,000 against the cap (and first rounder would be an extra $1.188 million), so they could well low-ball him. It’s a Colts tradition to keep their restricted free agents by signing them to one-year tenders and then letting them walk. That’s what I see them doing with Keiaho, so the size of the tender will depend on how much interest the Colts think he’ll get on the open market. Fans of other teams are already talking him up on their forums. He’s no star, and he doesn’t fit every defense, but Keiaho is probably worth the $1.545 million tender — at least for one year.

Note: I have since been informed that Federkeil doesn't have enough games uner his belt to be a restricted free agent and is instead an exclusive-rights free agent. So, logically he'll be invited back at the minimum salary.

No comments: