Each offseason brings more questions — and some hope — that the Colts will
pursue the heir apparent to Peyton Manning through the draft or free agency.
Though his eventual replacement will most likely come through the draft,
Indianapolis has yet to acquire even a sufficient caddy for Manning during his
tenure with the team, eventually settling on Jim Sorgi as the longterm backup.
Can Curtis Painter unseat Sorgi for the backup QB job?
AP Photo/Al Goldis
The same dance is performed every year, with challengers being brought in and
Sorgi fending them off, with Colts fans continually praying that Manning's
consecutive game streak remains unbroken.
In 2009, the Colts actually drafted a quarterback in Purdue's Curtis Painter.
Painter has the size — at 6-feet-3 and 222 pounds — and the arm to play the
position at the NFL level, but struggled during his senior season with a weak
He entered the 2008 season as a possible second or third
round selection in the 2009 draft, so here's hoping that he lives up to that
status and is able to challenge — and possibly unseat — the incumbent Sorgi.
They also added undrafted free agent Chris Crane, who hopefully will outshine
his potential, which is currently as the heir apparent to Josh Betts, the
practice squad and emergency quarterback for Indianapolis.
In the wake of Manning's knee operation last offseason, the Colts signed
veterans Quinn Gray and Jared Lorenzen, but retained neither player when it came
down to the final cutdown to 53.
Provided everyone stays healthy, it is
highly unlikely that they will bring in any veterans between now and training
The big addition here, obviously, is first round pick Donald Brown. In
addition to the fact that he fits in well with what Indianapolis likes to do on
offense and gives them options on the perimeter, he will be able to spell Joseph Addai when Addai is winded and/or injured.
Addai has yet to prove that he
can handle the rigors of the 16-game season, so it was important that the Colts
draft an insurance policy for him, given their struggles during the 2008 season
in the running game.
Brown immediately bolsters the depth at a position that includes second year
players Lance Ball, Chad Simpson, and Mike Hart. Ball and Simpson failed
to establish themselves in the shadow of Dominic Rhodes last season and Hart was
lost to injured reserve.
At the moment, the run game sits on the shoulders of Brown and Addai.
Can they deliver? They better, as it's unlikely that Indianapolis will add
a veteran in free agency. All the veterans available — Edgerrin James is
still out there — would want more than the veteran minimum and that's what the
Colts can afford.
This position is definitely the elephant in the room. Indianapolis
drafted Austin Collie in the fourth round and added undrafted free agents John Matthews and Brett McDermott.
In addition to those rookies, they have Roy Hall, Pierre Garcon, and Taj Smith behind Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez.
Without a veteran presence or an established player, the Colts will struggle
to find a third receiver for their rotation. This was actually the case
for a surprisingly significant portion of 2008, wherein Indianapolis deployed a
number of two tight end sets. They may need to return to that in 2009,
which is certainly not playing to their strengths.
Marvin Harrison is still out there, but, again, would need to reconcile the
fact that he would make one tenth of his original 2009 cap number to play for
the team that released him. Ashley Lelie is another possibility, but may
have worn out his welcome in the league and also does not necessarily fit what
Indianapolis likes to do on offense.
The Colts did not address this position in the draft, preferring to bring on
undrafted free agent Colin Cloherty.
With the depth that already exists at
tight end — Dallas Clark had another stellar year and Gijon Robinson
contributed considerably more than expected, with Tom Santi and Jacob Tamme
showing flashes of their potential — Cloherty is the odd man out.
Even if he does not make the roster, he will help to make the players around
him better — specifically Tamme and Santi, whose roster spots are not set —
through competition. However, this position seems to be stable and the Colts
appear to have done the right thing by adopting an, "if it ain't broke, don't
fix it," strategy.
If Indianapolis does deploy more two tight end sets in 2009 as expected,
Santi and Tamme will have more opportunities to shine.
The 2009 offseason was a case of Indianapolis building on what they started
in 2008, when they drafted Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard, and Steve Justice.
They added Jaimie Thomas in the seventh round in 2009 and undrafted free agents
Brandon Barnes and Tom Pestock.
The depth chart is crowded along the offensive line, but with versatile
players that can fill multiple positions such as Richard, Charlie Johnson, and
Pollak, even players such as Thomas, who can play both right tackle and guard,
will be hard pressed to make the team.
That kind of depth is a good problem to have and shows the forward-thinking
draft strategy that Bill Polian and company have been executing for years.
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