Saturday, April 4, 2009

Draft needs: Offense

Quarterback: Peyton Manning’s bursa sac reminded the Colts that he probably won’t last forever. And everyone except Jim Sorgi’s mother knows he’s not the heir apparent. The Colts aren’t in the draft or salary cap positions to allow them to choose a sure-thing franchise quarterback, so if they want to get one this year, they’ll have to gamble. That means a small schooler or someone whose stock is reduced by injury or some other reason. Then they have to hope he develops. NFL equivalent: Matt Cassell

Runningback: Joseph Addai’s a good back, but not the kind of workhorse you can tie your team to. But his presence also means they don’t need to draft that guy either. Instead, look for them to draft a complementary guy. He should do the things Addai can’t — succeed in short yardage, drag defenders and tire them out — and the things the Colts consider essential — pick up blitzes and act as an outlet receiver. And he should be able to start should Addai get hurt. NFL equivalent: Ladell Betts

Wide receivers: We’ve been through this before, folks. In the Colts’ offense, the third receiver plays more often than on other teams — he is essentially a starter. And stealing Dallas Clark or Jacob Tamme from the tight end corps weakens both groups. There’s an outside chance that holdover Pierre Garcon could fill the spot (dare I bring up the concept of Roy Hall? I think not), but more likely, they will look at the draft for help. To get a guy who can contribute like that — even in a receiver-rich draft like this — you’re looking at the first day. Look for them to invest in a guy whose skills far outweigh his triangle numbers. NFL equivalent: Anquan Boldin

Tight end and H-back: The Colts took two solid prospects in last year’s draft, and have two starters (and Clark’s a genuine star) ahead of them. There’s no real need here, but Bill Polian likes to surprise us, so a interesting guy who could come along wouldn’t be out of the question. NFL equivalent: Evan Moore

Tackle: Right tackle Ryan Diem is still solid, but has been bothered by nagging injuries and makes a lot of money. Left tackle Tony Ugoh has all the tools, but is wildly inconsistent. Many observers believe he’s not as dedicated to the game as he could be. Behind those two is inside-outside backup Charlie Johnson. While he’s fairly capable, he’s not the athlete you want starting. After him, there’s not much. The Colts have a tendency to draft offensive linemen late and try to develop them, but they may have to go early to get the quality they’ll soon need. Look for a guy who's a top athlete and gets into his stance extremely quickly. NFL equivalent: Joe Staley

Guards and centers: Since the Colts drafted three interior linemen last season — all of whom worked out in varying degrees — re-signed star center Jeff Saturday and get starting guard Ryan Lilja back from injury, it’s unlikely they’ll need to pick anyone here. Besides, holdovers Johnson and Dan Federkeil have started inside too. If they pick someone at all, it’ll be some small-school athlete who can be developed. NFL equivalent: Rich Seubert


shake'n'bake said...

I think know what you are going for on the Cassel thing, but I'm going to hate on him anyway.

Cassel is a mirage. He's the perfect storm of flaws that are missed by conventional analysis.

He faced a soft schedule.

He eats the ball for an ungodly number of sacks killing drives, but making his conventional stats look better.

He had a elite supporting cast (the same cast that took Brady's numbers from above average to an all time great season).

Cassel improved as the year went on, so I'm not quite ready to guarantee he'll bust in KC, but that's where my money would be.

Jerry Langton said...

Yeah, I understand the concerns about Cassell, but he fits the metaphor of what the Colts are looking for — an unheralded prospect with great tools the Colts can coach up.

I could have used Tom Brady, but, to return to metaphor, he's a handful of magic beans that grew into a beanstalk that takes you to the giant's house in the clouds, while Cassell is a handful of magic beans that — once planted and taken care of — produced a pretty decent crop of beans.

shake'n'bake said...

Yeah, I figured you meant a guy who could step up out of nowhere and start well, as opposed to a guy with Cassel's particular skills.

Jerry Langton said...

Yeah, Cassell the concept more than Cassell the man. Although I think I have a higher opinion of Cassell the player than you do.