Hope Springs Eternal NFL Draft Preview: Indianapolis Colts

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#1 Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, held on April 26-28, 2012.

No one is surprised at the recent firing of head coach Jim Caldwell.  No one is surprised that the Colts want to draft the most surefire QB prospect in Andrew Luck since their current QB Peyton Manning held the same distinction when they drafted him first overall in the 1998 NFL Draft.  What is surprising, however, is just how bad the Colts stunk it up in 2011 without Mr. Manning at the helm.  With a horrendous 2-14 record they often look overmatched, out coached, and were revealed to be a car that doesn’t come with an engine.  The current team was built around Manning and, since they are planning on rebuilding with a new QB, the current team will need to be somewhat gutted.

Since the Colts coaching future is up in the air, mainly affecting the prediction of defensive picks (as no one is sure if they will continue to run the Tampa-2 4-3 or try and switch to a 3-4), there is only one sure thing: that Andrew Luck will be the number one overall pick.  Assuming they stay in their current defensive scheme another given for the upcoming season is that the defense, again (as with so many years under Manning’s reign), will be mediocre at best and probably a whole lot worse.  Once the Colts take Luck they should focus heavily on the defense, whether they change schemes or not.

Andrew Luck would inherit what is, seemingly, a poor situation in Indianapolis.  However this Colts team does have some solid weapons in place to help the young QB out.  They used their 2011 first round pick on Anthony Costanzo, an OT out of BC.  They also have Dallas Clark who is a premier TE in the NFL (when he is healthy).  The Colts don’t have much of a running game, but with a shrewd signing here or there it could be much improved.  If the Colts keep most of their offensive pieces then Luck should come in with more than what most other first overall pick QBs have at their disposal.

Best Case Scenario

There are two here.  The first would be the Colts can trade their beloved Peyton for some high draft picks, i.e. a late first or maybe a few seconds.  This should help them transition from Peyton’s team to a more balanced squad led by Andrew Luck.  They use some picks on D and to solidify a running game and build for the future.

The second is if Peyton physically can’t play.  Now this might be considered bad for Colts fans as they wouldn’t be able to trade him.  However if Peyton can’t play and is forced to retire the Colts should wisely tell him he will become, at the very least, the new QBs coach for the team.  It is no secret Peyton was basically the offensive coordinator while he played so a transition to coaching would be natural.  Also the Colts get to keep Peyton and not have to endure the weird feelings of seeing the number 18 in a Jets or Redskins uniform.

Sleeper Prospects For the Colts

LaMichael James RB, Oregon, 3rd/4th – Due to durability concerns James will most likely end up as a mid-round pick.  Expecting James to carry the load would be a poor strategy, but as the Colts have a few power RBs already in Donald Jones and Joeseph Addai they could certainly use the big play ability of a James.

Mike Daniels DT, Iowa, Mid-round – The former front office regime loved players out of Iowa and the high-motor Daniels would almost be a sure-fire pick for the Colts.  Now maybe the new GM will want to go away from that type of player, but if they remain in the Tampa-2 style of defense Daniels would be a great fit.  The only time the Colts’ D was ever effective was when they were getting good play out of their DTs.  Daniels not only can plug up holes but can also rush the QB and collapse blocking schemes.

De’Quan Menzie CB, Alabama, Mid-/Late-round – It seems as though the Colts are always short on CBs, and clearly this year was no exception.  Menzie has good size and solid speed for the position and is a very physical corner.  In a defense that was pretty poor in the run (let’s be honest, they were poor against the pass too) Menzie could be a solid late round project. 

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