Indianapolis Colts 2012 NFL Draft Preview

Today we are adding two team previews to the bog nation.  The Indianapolis Colts are on the clock. They are on the clock because of their dismal 2011 performance.  This draft gives them the opportunity to rebuild the franchise and return to its glory days.  Unfortunately, part of the reason they do have the #1 draft choice is how poorly they have drafted.

The reader will find a little bit of everything in this draft preview.  The other team which will be previewed today is the Washington Redskins, who own pick #2 of this draft.  I will randomly add other team previews as the days go by, HOWEVER, if any reader of this blog wants to see a preview for a specific team, just LET ME KNOW and I will gladly make it available.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  As always, your comments, questions and/or disagreements are welcome!

Additional Note: This preview includes ratings used for the 2011 draft.  A short explanation of these ratings is as follows:

Numerical: The rank of the player for that position.  If there are TWO numbers, the first number is the rank for the general position (OL for example) and the 2nd number the rank for the specific position (OT).

* rating: A rating just below those at the position

NR: Not ranked, meaning I do not think that player is draft worthy.

INDY (22, 53, 87):     2011 RECORD 2-14  2010 RECORD 10-6  2009 RECORD 14-2  2008 RECORD 12-4   

TEAM OVERVIEW: In the ‘10 NFL Season Preview (September ’10) we said the following: “Peyton willed them to an NFL record # of comeback wins.  Indy is 89-23 the past 7 years including 39-9 the past 3 years.  We do not fully know how good a coach Caldwell is, but we could find out in ’10.  Matching the regular season magic of ’09 is easier said than done.”  In ’10, HC Caldwell showed his true “value” when Indy had the Jets beat in the playoffs until Caldwell’s blunder at the end of that game.  It was not the 1st mistake he has made.  Once again we asked, “How long can Peyton bail them out?”  We got that answer in ’11, when Peyton was unable to play.  Caldwell was overmatched as a HC and years of just terrible drafts for the DL and LB group reduced Indy to a team without impact.  The draft team consistently ignored the D and when they did make a move it was for smaller DL and anything but a cover CB.  The stats below will highlight just how poor Indy played on D, not just in ’11 but for over a decade!  Polian and his draft team are gone and the team will rebuild now without one of the greatest QB’s ever to play the game.  Indy enters the ’11 draft knowing they will get a possible elite QB but still must fix the rest of the team.  Does Indy even know how lucky it has been to have an elite QB and still win despite an always bottom tier defense?  We’ll soon find out.

KEY STATS: The pass D% reached a new level of incompetence, even by Colt standards!  Indy’s 11 year average prior to ’11 was 65%, with NO YEARS BELOW 60%.  Congratulations on hitting 71.2% in ’11!  There was just one occasion when Indy was below 60+++%.  They allowed 14-24.  That is actually impossible!  The run D was 4.3-144, and has been 4.2 or worse now 13 of the past 14 years.  Yes, they have Freeney and Mathis but Indy had just 29 sacks in ’11 despite 19 from these 2 guys!  The 4 year total is just 121, probably far lower than most fans would have guessed.  As usual, the 3rd down D was awful.  The team was -12 in turnovers, 30th in total offense, and the QB rating for opposing teams was 103.9 (31st).  Indy’s soft cover scheme produced just 8 picks, making for a total of 17 the past 2 years.  WOW!  Not surprisingly, time of possession was last at -7:33.  Wait, there’s more!  Indy scored 19 points in the 1st quarter.  They averaged 3.4 per punt return.  They allowed a league worst 30.7 on kick returns despite not allowing a KR TD!  Indy’s run O improved to 4.2/99.5.  We had to say something nice!  Spread-wise, the dog is now 24-2 when Indy and NE meet.  The NFL’s best RF was of course never a RF in ’11 and 0-1 in their only HF role.  Most of their long term trends were not active in ’11, but after going 4-1, they are now 12-3 as a DD dog.

TOP STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS PRIOR TO THE DRAFT: This section of the report never changes!  Once again, Peyton Manning is about the best there ever has been.  He wins despite the defensive #’s.  Oh well!  Now we have to change this and find a strength!  Freeney and Mathis are good pass rushers.  As for the top weakness, get in line!  Pass D% however, is clearly the worst area, and no team (not even the Lions) has taken bad pass D to this level for this long a time.

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON:  2012 schedules are not yet available.  Here is what was said in the report a year ago.

2011: Indy’s ’10 schedule was fair, and graded out easier than Tennessee’s, and much easier than Houston’s!  This schedule looks a bit more difficult than usual.  Indy has five prime time games.  They host Pittsburgh on SNF 9/25.  That is followed by a trip to Tampa on MNF.  Indy has three straight on the road beginning in mid-October, with the 2nd game a Super Bowl rematch at New Orleans!  Indy has no prime time games or road games in November!  December starts tough with a SNF game at NE followed by a tough road outing at Baltimore.  Indy’s last prime time game is on TNF vs. Houston.  They close the season at the Jags.  Indy’s Power # closed at just 28.5 in ’10.  That # was accurate.

FREE AGENCY ANALYSIS AND STAFF NOTES: Old time fans remember when the Baltimore Colts became the Indy Colts.  Indy had a brand new team.  We write this on 3/22 and 19 players who were on the ’11 roster, including 10 projected starters are now gone!  The ’12 Indy Colts might as well be brand new!  Notable offensive losses (in addition to Manning) are WR’s Garcon and Gonzalez, OL Saturday, Pollak and Diem, TE’s Clark and Tamme, and RB Addai.  Of the 5 additions (WR Avery, OL Justice, Satele and McGlynn, QB Stanton), maybe only 1-2 even start!  Yes, the offense is worse!  The D lost 4, but with the new scheme and hopefully bigger players and better drafts, they won’t be missed much.  3 were starters (LB Brackett, DB’s Lacey and Bullitt), at least in September.  Back up NT McKinney and SS Zibrikowski are the only additions.  WOW!  New HC Pagano will move to a 3-4 base and away from their high school cover 2 scheme.  The new OC is Bruce Arians.  The new DC is Greg Manusky.  UPDATE: The 20th Colt to leave is LB Wheeler, signed by Oakland on 3/30.  21 Colts are gone as of 4/3.  WR Blair White became the 22nd Colt to lose his job (4/13).

2011 DRAFT REVIEW: As last years draft ratings demonstrated, we liked Indy’s pair of OL selections.  What we did NOT like is Indy using just 2 picks for the defense, the last of which came way too late in the draft.  Is it any wonder why Indy has been so bad for so long on defense?  Clearly, having QB Manning masked some awful draft day decisions along with awful DC schemes.  DT Nevis was the typical small bodied DL coveted by this “astute’ draft team.

1-22              OT  Castonzo          3-3

12 starts in 12 GP and played well as the team’s future and present LT

2-49              OT  Ijalana               4-4

As written last year, he’s got major upside.  OG/OT ability but was hurt early in year.

3-87              DT  Nevis              21-10

19 tackles in 5 GP before going on IR.  That’s better than we expected but line was thin.

4-119            RB  Carter                 4

Strong, low to ground inside RB ran 377-3.7 but fumbled too much as a rookie

6-246            CB  Rucker             NR

Big CB who gives cushion.  We warned, “Won’t help pass D%”.  37 tackles.

2010 DRAFT REVISITED: LB/DT Hughes was a typical Indy undersized draftee, but he is clearly underachieving with 15 2nd year tackles and 1 sack.  We really liked LB Angerer and he led Indy with 148 tackles.  CB Thomas was described by us as a CB who loves to give a cushion.  He had 33 tackles.  4th round NR OG McClendon was cut.  TE Ethridge caught 9.  NR DT Matthews had 19 tackles.  LB Conner (7-240, ACE rated) had 104 tackles!  NR CB Fisher was cut.

2012 DRAFT NEEDS: Indy could get by without drafting OT, but ALL remaining positions are in play, starting at QB.  Defensively, they need massive bulk at DT, run and pass help at LB (2 starters for sure), and maybe 3 new secondary starters, including a pair of new CB’s.  They need at least 1 interior OL starter and a WR, plus the return game needs a new face.

RECENT DRAFT HISTORY AND TENDENCIES FOR 2012: Until ‘06 we saw plenty of D grades.  ‘06 yielded a C+ with Addai, Jennings and Bethea.  We rated ‘07 a B, with major depth added.  The ’08 grade was C+.  The ’09 grade was a B.  The last 2 drafts are average.  Ex-GM Polian didn’t move much in the draft, and prior to ’10 former HC Dungy never wanted to sacrifice a draft pick.  The only direction they liked to move is down and Indy did not mind moving out of round 1.  As we’ve noted often, Indy will move up on day #2 if they have a particular person targeted.  We hit that right on once again in ’11.  Speaking of ex-GM Polian, it is down IN PRINT that his work in round #1 on draft day was called pathetic.   5 recent examples bear this out.  The new draft team is unlikely to trade up knowing multiple holes need to be filled.  Now, can they fill them properly?  NOTE: Keep in mind that Owner Irsay is crazy!  Can we stop the “tweeting”, PLEASE!

DRAFT PICK OVERVIEW: Picks in 1st 3 rounds: 1, 34, 64.  Indy has 10 picks in this draft and will have the 1st pick in rounds one through five.  They traded pick 172 (opening pick in round #6) to Philly for OT Justice, but were awarded three compensatory picks coming in rounds 5-7.  The Colts will have both the 1st and last pick in the ’12 draft.

ROUND ONE PREVIEW: This pick will be used on QB Luck no matter what half-crazed Owner Jim Irsay tweets!

REST OF THE DRAFT: Jim Irsay is the best example of why twitter should be outlawed!  Seriously, an owner is tweeting about the Peyton Manning contract status, about RG III, about QB Tannehill and who knows what else!  We thought rehab was over and done with!  Meanwhile, Indy has a super critical draft to attend to.  DT’s go fast, so getting a massive DT to bulk this team up may need to come as early as pick #34.  Drafting heavier along the DL is a must.  Drafting to make the pass D% more relevant is just as critical.  The new draft team has to hit consistently in the draft to start the rebuilding process.



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