2011 NFL Draft | Indianapolis Colts Team Needs
The Indianapolis Colts suffered a bit of a Super Bowl hangover in 2010, which was completely understandable considering the amount of injuries they endured. With players returning to health and a good draft, they’ll be right back where they were in 2011.
Indy really got bogged down by injuries all over the field, as they dealt with injuries all over the field, most notably losing Dallas Clark and Bob Sanders for the season, while dealing with lingering injuries all season long from Austin Collie and Joseph Addai.
The Colts will be back to their normal selves when they return to full health next season, so they don’t have a ton of holes to fill. However, any team that goes 10-6 and exits the playoffs in the first round can stand to improve in a few areas. Read on for the major areas Indianapolis can address to get better in 2011:
Biggest Needs: OL, RB, QB
Wide receiver is a mild concern with Reggie Wayne aging and Austin Collie suffering concussions at a disturbing rate, but the Colts don’t really need to reach for a receiver until the fourth round, at the earliest. However, their offensive line is getting older and the pass protection wasn’t nearly as good as it was in year’s past, so adding depth or upgrading is key to the Colts bouncing back in 2011.
Indy could (should?) protect their soon-to-be huge investment in Peyton Manning by grabbing the best available offensive tackle. They still have solid tackles, but Charlie Johnson will be a free agent, and they could use a youth movement at the position, regardless. Derek Sherrod should be available and would be a nice pick at the 21st pick, while Nate Solder is probably the best tackle in the draft, and could also be there for the picking.
With Joseph Addai heading into free agency and Donald Brown earning mixed reviews, Indy may have to start over at the running back position in 2011. They finished the season 29th in rushing yards per game, so they owe it to Manning to get the offense more balanced. Indy could grab a burner like Kendall Hunter in the second round, while Daniel Thomas is a very reliable inside runner that could also drop to the second.
The Colts should have Peyton Manning locked up for the remainder of his career by the time the 2011 NFL Draft rolls around, but at 35, Manning can’t play forever. Indy needs to start looking ahead a little bit at the position, and they also need to admit that Curtis Painter isn’t a realistic replacement option if Manning goes down or retires in the next few years. Look for the Colts to grab a talented passer in the middle rounds, someone like Pat Devlin or Colin Kaepernick, possibly as early as the third round. Christian Ponder could be another solid option in the fourth.
Biggest Needs: SS, DT, LB
Indy’s biggest concern is going to be finding a replacement for Bob Sanders. Antonie Bethea is a great free safety, but the Colts need some major help in the back of their defense, as Sanders can never stay healthy and is only getting older. DeAndre McDaniel could be the perfect guy to come in and grow behind Sanders (assuming he sticks with the team), and should be around for the Colts to pluck in the second round. Ahmad Black is another guy the Colts would love to take a look at in the second round if he falls that far.
After strong safety, a top area of concern is the middle of the defensive line. The Colts aren’t the best against the run, and they’ll be doing themselves a huge favor by adding a beast to help with stopping the run. Christian Ballard could be a nice pick with the 21st overall pick, but at this point it looks like the Colts may wait until the second or third round to attack this need. If they take a tackle and safety with the first two picks, Jarvis Jenkins and Kenrick Ellis are two other defensive tackles that could help right away.
The Colts have a pretty solid line-backing corps that should be able to compete at a high level for the next few years. However, Gary Bracket is manning the middle of the field at 30 years old, and the Colts could start looking for his eventual replacement. Casey Matthews has to be high on any team’s list in need of help in the middle, and he’d be a great fit. If the Colts wait until round four or later, the versatile Cliff Matthews would also be a strong candidate for selection.
Overall, Indianapolis is still very talented and once healthy, is still a team very close to Super Bowl contention. They need to make sure Bob Sanders doesn’t hold them prisoner with constant injuries by addressing the strong safety position, and they need to get younger and more talented on their offensive line. While they’re still going to make runs at Super Bowls for the next few seasons with Manning under center, the time is also now for the Colts to start thinking toward the future and grab a young passer for Manning to mentor.