Even though the NFL Combine begins in Indianapolis this Thursday, the decision of who the Colts will draft with the number one overall pick seems all but made. A multitude of pundits deem that former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck becoming the first pick in the draft is inevitable. The Colts did have a massive hole in their offense at the quarterback position last year, as Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, and Dan Orlovsky led Indianapolis to a woeful 2-14 record. There are still many more holes to be filled on the team, and with the future of Peyton Manning up in the air, the argument could be made that the Indianapolis Colts could (and possibly should) still look in other directions with the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Listed in this article are several key positions, and possible candidates, that the Colts could consider drafting instead of Andrew Luck.
1. Wide receiver – The Colts have serious contract expiration issues all over the board, and none more numerous than at the wide out position. Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez, and Austin Collie all have contracts up for review or due to expire. No matter who the quarterback may be, he will not do well without reliable receivers.
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, and is only the second player in history to win that honor more than once. In 2011, he finished his college career with 121 catches for 1,522 yards, and scored 18 touchdowns. In the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, Blackmon caught eight passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
2. Center – Jeff Saturday is in the Sunday afternoon of his career. His contract is up, and he’s already stated publicly that he’s contemplating retirement. If his retirement does occur, Indianapolis has also already offered up the option for Saturday to take an office role in-house with the team. Even if he does play, Saturday does not have much time left. At age 36, he won’t be around much longer to snap the ball for Manning or Luck.
Peter Konz comes from a long line of prominent Wisconsin linemen, including Cleveland Browns Pro Bowler, Joe Thomas. At 6’5” and 315 pounds, Konz will be a massive asset to any team’s offensive line. In 2011, he was named as an AFCA, CBS, and PFW first team All American.
3. Defensive tackle – The Indianapolis Colts have never been known as a stout run-stopping team. Their defense has not ranked in the league’s top 20 against the rush since 2007, when Indianapolis ranked 15th in the league. The Colts ranked 29th in the league against the run in 2011, giving up nearly 150 yards on the ground per game.
Penn State All-American, Devon Still, was the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, becoming only the second defensive tackle ever to win that award. The 6’5”, 310- pound senior could flourish if new head coach Chuck Pagano tries to implement a re-vamped 3-4 defensive scheme.
4. Offensive tackle – Yes, the Colts drafted tackle Anthony Castonzo with their first round pick last year. Castonzo started 12 games in 2011, but battled injury, and often looked confused on an beleaguered offensive line. It didn’t help that the Colts had more starting quarterbacks last season than they’ve had in the last decade. Still, the Indianapolis offensive line was beaten up all year, and could use as much help as they can get.
USC offensive tackle, Matt Kalil, is the consensus top prospect for that position in the 2012 NFL Draft. In 2011, Kalil did not give up a sack, while his offensive line only allowed eight sacks on the season. Matt’s brother, Ryan, is the center for the Carolina Panthers.
5. Cornerback – Due to injuries and poor performance, the Colts have been forced to shuffle cornerbacks consistently over the last several seasons. The Tampa 2 defense was predicated on speed over size, which left the Colts open to be burned and beaten by taller wide outs. In 2011, Indianapolis gave up 25 touchdowns through the air.
Dre Kirkpatrick, at 6’2”, would be taller than any cornerback currently on the Colts starting roster. He was on two BCS National Championship teams with the Alabama Crimson Tide. On January 9th, Alabama defeated the LSU Tigers 21-0, becoming the first team to win the BCS Championship via a shutout.
With a new head coach, new coordinators, and a new general manager, it seems obvious that the Colts are preparing for the future. What better way to start off a new regime than with the number one pick in the draft? No matter who the Colts take in the first round, they will still have more holes to fill before returning to NFL prominence. Still, after last season, there is almost nowhere to go but up.