This morning's Indy Star article was interesting to me, because I have been thinking a lot about the draft and the off season. I was trying to ascertain what positions the Colts might need to fill, who they could lose ect. As always, the cap situation should be tight but manageable. The only UFA starters are Clark, Lilja, and Scott. Thomas, Boiman, Klecko, and Moorehead are strictly backups, though Thomas has played a lot with Freeney out. The Colts often let guards walk in free agency, so I wouldn't be surprised if Lilja at least is gone. Charlie Johnson, while a disaster at tackle, has played well inside. The Colts frequently draft O-linemen in the late rounds and let Howard Mudd turn them into players. So with Clark available at a reasonable franchise tag, what could the Colts be looking for in the draft. Remember, there's no first round pick this year because of the Ugoh trade (no complaining about that one for sure!)
Here's my short list:
1. Corners - the Colts love to draft corners and clearly have a weakness in the nickle package.
2. Guards - There's a good chance we lose one or both.
3. Pass rushers-This is where we are most thin. We have two dominant edge rushers, but one injury really can expose that lack of depth. It's amazing how this team is now in a position to draft for depth.
4. Defensive Tackle - This is a tough one. The Colts have several young DTs, but I'm not sure they have the next sure thing on the roster. Truth is, this is still the highest priority need to take this D to an insane level. The Star speculated that Booger could be cut, but that should be a function of his health. His play in the playoffs was outstanding last year; he was dominant in the KC game, when everyone questioned if the Colts could really stop a top-flight RB. If he's healthy, I think he should be kept.
5. Tight End - this shoots up the list if the team lets Clark walk. I still say it's possible based on Dallas's propensity for drops, but it seems more likely they'll franchise him for a year, and deal with this next year when we have a first round pick.
When everyone is healthy, this Colts team is without holes or flaws. When the starters step on the field, the only real weak spot is at nickle back. We have great starters at most positions and interesting prospects in the wings at RB and WR. The oldest defensive starter is 29 (seriously). This team is young and deep (as this events have born out this season).
Frankly, as long as #18 stays upright, it's hard to imagine much of a drop off next season. Even without a first round pick, and drafting no worse than 30th in all subsequent rounds, the Colts should be in strong shape. They will probably clean up on compensatory selections as well.
Polian and company are geniuses.
Demond Sanders: Great point about the nickle and dime coverages. Guys like Dante Hughes and Michael Coe will develop over time, but losing David and Harper showed you can never have too many spare corners.
Also check out this ESPN article on the US open-wheel split. This guy breaks down an issue that does not get much national coverage. You know what bothers me? When we were born Indiana was known for its auto racing and its high school basketball tournament. Wha' happened?