Offseason review: Indianapolis Colts

Pre-draft needs


Draft class

Round 1: Anthony Castonzo, OLT

Round 2: Ben Ijalana, G/OT

Round 3: Drake Nevis, DT

Round 4: Delone Carter, RB

Round 6: Chris Rucker, CB

Potential free agents of note

Peyton Manning, QB (exclusive franchise player)

Joseph Addai, RB

Mike Hart, RB

Charlie Johnson, OLT/G

Eric Foster, DT

Daniel Muir, DT

Antonio Johnson, DT

Keyunta Dawson, DT/DE

Clint Session, WLB

Melvin Bullitt, SS

Aaron Francisco, S

Adam Vinatieri, K

Post-draft needs

SS, DT, DE (depth), K


Despite winning the AFC South last season, the Colts came into this year’s draft with important needs to address.

The Colts wanted to move left tackle Charlie Johnson inside this season, so they selected left tackle Anthony Castonzo with their first-round pick. Castonzo, projected to go much higher in the round, was considered good value at No. 22 overall. Johnson, however, is unsigned and could wind up being an unrestricted free agent depending on the rules of free agency.

While second-round pick Ben Ijalana might be competing for playing time at guard this season, he could be the eventual replacement down the line for starting right tackle Ryan Diem, who turns 32 in July.

With two out of their top-three defensive tackles unsigned, the Colts selected Drake Nevis in the third round.

“He’s one of those guys where you look at the tape and you say, ‘This is a Colt.’ He’s got the toughness, the quickness off the ball, the penetration into the gap, the motor that never stops,” Colts vice chairman Bill Polian said. “He has really everything we want in a defensive tackle. He’s not 6’4” the way (DT) Fili (Moala) is, so he’s going to be a little bit different pass rusher and probably won’t record as many sacks as Fili might, but he’s got everything else that you want. You hate to compare these guys. I don’t play that game. I don’t compare these guys to people that have played well in the league, but in style of play and stature, he’s an awful lot like Booger (Former Colts DT Anthony McFarland).”

On offense, the team selected running back Delone Carter in the fourth round. Carter offers the team a different skill set from the other backs on the roster.

“Delone Carter from Syracuse, third-leading rusher in Syracuse history, a different style of back then we’ve had in some time here. He’s much more of an inside, slam, bang, kind of runner then we are used to having. He brings, we think, a much-needed skill set that we’ve been lacking,” Polian said.

With Carter and 2009 first-round pick Donald Brown on the roster, it remains to be seen if the team will re-sign veteran Joseph Addai. Addai is less likely to return if he’s deemed an unrestricted free agent since he should be able to find a larger role elsewhere.

While it was speculated that the team might select a quarterback who could eventually replace Peyton Manning, that didn’t transpire. 2009 sixth-round pick Curtis Painter, who is the only quarterback signed for 2011, is currently projected to back him up this season.

“I think there is a period of time where you can have a transition and apprenticeship, so to speak,” Polian explained. “It is clearly one year and I think you could go as far as three perhaps four (years) before a player, and I will borrow a phrase from (former Buffalo Bills head coach) Marv Levy, ‘begins to rust.’ I’m not setting out a time frame by which we have to acquire someone. You could do that by trade in a day. Somewhere between one and four (years) seems to be the right number for a guy to apprentice. Of course that coincides completely with free agency. So if you assume we come back with free agency at the same level that it is on now that would probably make some sense. But as I say, I hope that is a long time in the future.”