Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Your 2008 Indianapolis Colts

Here is my best and most optimistic guess of how the Colts roster will look on opening day, with a thought or two on each player. I'm projecting several veteran and undrafted rookie free agent signings.

Peyton Manning- The man, the myth, the legend, best QB in the NFL, The Colts wouldn't be what they are without #18.

Jim Sorgi-Hate him or feel somewhat confidant he's qualified to hold a clipboard all season, Sorgi looks to be the Colts backup for at the least one more season.

Joseph Addai- The lead head of what I hope will be a three headed Colts run game. Addai has his strengths in all the things that matter most for a Colts RB and his weaknesses in those that matter least.

Dominic Rhodes- Rhodes has never been a great runner, but he catches the ball, blocks and doesn't fumble. The definition of a solid backup.

Mike Hart- The rookie with the potential to be great. In college he was a hugely productive runner, never fumbled, pass blocked with effort and without fear and caught the ball well on screens and short routes. The not fumbling is a sure thing to translate to the pros. The others not as much. His size raises questions in his running and blocking ability and he will asked to do more in the receiving game in Indy. Whether he can stay productive will decide whether he's a draft steal or another great college player whose game doesn't work at the highest level.

Dallas Clark- Clark has wide receiver quickness and route running with tight end size and hands. The Colts gave him a long term extension that insures that he will frustrate opposing defenses and occasionally Colts fans for a long time.

Tom Santi- a.k.a. Ben Utecht 2.0, did they fix the fumble bug in the previous model? As long as they kept the blocking and catching up to the old levels he'll do fine.

Jacob Tamme- Compared to Clark constantly, with him the Colts give up some blocking in exchange for better hands.

Marvin Harrison- If the best receiver in NFL history not named Jerry Rice is healthy then the Colts are a much better team. He's nearing the end of the road, but if the knee heals he could still stick around for a long time.

Reggie Wayne-Wayne has stepped out of Marvin's shadow and if he hasn't overtaken him already he will soon. Wayne is a top 5 WR in the league as shown by his huge production without Marvin on the other side of him.

Anthony Gonzalez- Gonzo stepped up huge last year and will excel this season in the 3rd WR role he was drafted to play.

Roy Hall- Should be recovered from a nasty special teams collision that ended his season and unfortunately the other players career. Hall will be a special teams beast, putting his freakish athleticism to work while he continue learning the Colts offense.

Pierre Garcon- Garcon will compete with TJ Rushing for return duties and for the last receiver spot with Devin Aromashodu and several undrafted WRs. By the sixth round every D1 player remaining is a guy who has been outplayed and overmatched by some opposing players. He wasn't the best at his level so why would he be better at a higher level. Garcon demolished his competition at the DIII level. He'll be making a huge leap, but there's something to be said for a player who you have never seen outplayed.

LT Tony Ugoh- A force in the running game, Ugoh can blow up a D-end and take on a linebacker or safety before Addai catches up. He needs to improve his pass protection, but he wasn't bad as a rookie and showed improvement throughout the year.

LG Ryan Lilja- Another recently resigned Colt. Lilja is a good starter and young. He will be around playing well for a while.

OC Jeff Saturday- The oldest, but best man on the line. He's still the top center in the game. The Colts seem to have a succession plan in place, but Saturday should be kept in Indy beyond the year left on his contract. Center, like QB, requires intellegence, experience and technique more than physical ability, so Saturday's decline should be slow.

RG Dylan Gandy-Gandy has spent two years backing up the entire middle of the Colts line. He's now ready to step into the starting lineup, then likely cash in elsewhere when his one year RFA tender expires.

RT Ryan Diem- Diem is strong in run blocking and usually good at stopping the pass rush. He'll get beaten by the ocassional speed rush, but he's a right tackle, that happens. Diem is still very good, but a replacement should be on the front offices mind in the coming years as Diem ages.

OT Dan Federkiel- Last season Federkiel got injured and landed on IR just as he was finally needed. He never got a chance to show what he can do. He may not be a capable left tackle, but we do know the other backup tackle on the roster isn't.

OT/OG Charlie Johnson- I don't understand Johnson's struggles with speed rushers. Usually tackles can't handle the outside rush because they lack the athleticism to move with a speedy DE. Johnson started his college career as a tight end and has the 5 catches for 57 yards and two rushing yards to prove it. The Colts even used him as a tackle eligible at the goal line his rookie season and threw him a pass in the endzone (he dropped it).

OG/OC-Mike Pollak- The second round pick from ASU has a shot at the starting RG spot, but Gandy has three years in the Colts system and has been blocked in by estabilished starters the last two. Pollak will move into the starting lineup soon enough and provide quality depth in the meantime.

OG/OC David Justice- Justice will have to wait longer to find his spot in the lineup. He may be the heir to the Colts center position, but it's a bit early to count on that since he hasn't even put on a Colts jersey yet.

OL- Jamie Richards- I've heard talk he could play anywhere on the line. That kind of versatility would be a huge factor in him making the roster.

RE- Dwight Freeney Freeney is constantly criticized for his run defense, so much so that I think he's become the opposite of the overrated, underrated guy. The guy that's been called underrated so much that everyone thinks he underrated, but is still called underrated until he becomes overrated. Freeney is the opposite of that guy. You mention Freeney to any casual to hardcore NFL fan and they'll tell you, "great pass rusher, bad run D." They might even call him overrated. It's been drilled into everyones head so well that it goes beyond the level that's correct. He's not a great run stopper, but the Colts don't foucs on stopping the run and Freeney does do a good job of holding up at the point of attack when he's asked to stay there, instead of rushing upfield. When he does shoot around the outside he not only applies pressure and draws blocks like few DEs in the game he completely shuts down outside runs to his side. OT struggle to keep Freeney out of the pocket, they aren't going to be able to come and get him on the outside. Freeney's been called overrated so many times that he's not overrated anymore. He is appropriately rated at worst and I feel his pretty strongly underrated to the NFL fan.

NT-Ed Johnson Solid is the word for Johnson. The Colts can be very good will him, but his starting position is the one that the Colts could find an upgrade the easiest. Johnson doesn't penetrate as well as the Tampa-2 design would hope.

UT-Raheem Brock Brock was really growing into the undertackle spot in the defense before his injury. He's bulked up and lost the speed to be a pass rushing DE, but retained the quickness to be disruptive in the middle.

LE-Robert Mathis Mathis was a great pass rush specialist and is a effective starter. With the influx of pass rushers behind him Mathis could move to more of a part time role that combines the value of using him in more than obvious passing downs, but keeps him from being gassed in the 4th quarter when he's needed the most.

DE-Marcus Howard The undersized speed rusher we all fell in loved with before the draft. Howard will spell Mathis and Freeney and help keep up the pressure.

DE-Rosevelt Colvin I have a confession to make. Not only would I welcome former patriot Rosevelt Colvin with open arms, I have rooted for a player while he was still a member of New England's NFL franchise. Tim Dwight the only graduate of my high school and one of only two players from my hometown currently in the NFL, was a member of the pats for a year. I rooted for him while he was. I have hoped on several occasions that Tom Brady threw a TD pass (only to Dwight. As soon as he left the game I hoped for a pick).

DE-Josh Thomas- The big run stopping DE, Thomas was extended for another year of backup work. He'll be phased out by the youth movement on the DL, but he's a useful player for now.

DT-Quinn Pitcock- Another solid nosetackle. He'll continue as Ed Johnson's backup holding down the middle as the big DT.

DL-Kenunta Dawson- Dawson has been great as a versatile lineman, subbing in all along the line. Hopefully his pass rushing moves continue to improve. He's one of the few linemen on the roster last year with the athletic ability to be a pass rusher threat.

DL-Darrel Reid- Special team ace, D-line depth. I think the Titans drafted Chris Johnson because they couldn't scrape last years 1st round RB Chris Henry off the RCA Dome turf.

DL-Rudolph Hardie
Unsigned last time I checked. Hardie could be Josh Thomas with pass rushing ability, with an outside shot at being the future at LE.

WLB-Freddy Keiaho Brokeout huge last year, now it's time for two seasons of awesome LB play before he goes somewhere else to get paid.

MLB-Gary Brackett Brackett raised his game last season and deserved a pro bowl selection for it. He's the perfect fit in the middle of the Tampa-2 and will be leading the Colts defense for years to come.

SLB-Tyjuan Hagler The Colts extended Hagler's contract for a year and laid down 1.4 million to do it. That's a pretty strong vote of confidence coming from the Colts front office. Hagler will have a year to prove he deserves to get paid, it may not be by the Colts though.

LB-Clint Sessions Sessions stepped in as a rookie and made plays. Sessions is likely the future at one of the LB spots with Hagler in a contract year, Keiaho with two remaining and Brackett one of the oldest on the defense.

LB-Phillip Wheeler Wheeler could be moved to DE, but linebacker is a thinner position and where he's played in college. Plays very fast, despite what his combine numbers suggest. He'll spend a year or two on special teams while he refines his play recognition and zone coverage skills.

LB-Ramon Guzman A solid special teamer and depth to fill out the LB position. Guzman absolutely destroying a punt returner who made the wrong choice of whether to fair catch in preseason still sticks in my memory.

DPOY-Bob Sanders Sanders is the man. I love him. He finally stayed healthy last season and the result was him being rightly recognized as the best defender in the league.

SS-Antoine Bethea A sixth rounder who became a pro bowler. Where did we hear that all draft long? But did Tom Brady win the starting job as a rookie in training camp? Bethea>Brady.

CB-Marlin Jackson It really says something when one of the worst 1st round picks the Colts have made under Polian is the #1 CB on one of the leagues top defenses.

CB-Kelvin Hayden Big, Physical corners are awesome. Hayden brings the big hit just like all the Colts DBs. His INT return the the superbowl was the most exciting moment I've ever had watching football.

NB-Dante Hughes Hughes looked ready to overtake Jennings as the nickelback late last year before injury sidelined him. Hopefully he'll win the spot before the opener.

CB-Tim Jennings The fast Colts CB, but out of position so much it doesn't matter. If I could ask Tony Dungy one question it would be why he was one-on-one with Randy Moss most of the pats game. He has the potential to be a great all around corner, but he'll need to show serious improvement.

CB-Micheal Coe
Another talented CB who fell to the Colts because he isn't a world class sprinter. He's good depth and will contribute in the future.

CB-TJ Rushing Very good on punt returns, ok taking back kickoffs, useful as a 4th CB. A wise use of a 7th round pick.

S-Matt Giordano Despite what Madden tries to tell you Giordano is blazing fast. The Madden creators giving Giordano below average speed is the most blatant racism I've ever seen in a video game.

S-Jamie Silva Can he play special teams well? Ok he's on the roster.

Adam Vinatieri The rumor was he was hurt most of last year. I hope it was true and that his playoff performance is the Vinitieri the Colts will be paying the big bucks for.

Hunter Smith Hunter the punter got on the fans bad side, but I still blame the coverage unit and coach more than him.

LS-Justin Snow I forgot him the first time through but that's how it is with a good longsnapper. If he does his job right nobody notices him.

Practice squad

FB Luke Lawton The Colts don't have a true fullback but most other teams do, which is why they keep one on the practice squad.

HB Kenton Keith Keith ran the ball extremely well last season, so another team should be quick to pick him up if he's cut but there's a lot of things other teams should do, but don't.

WR Devin Aromashado Not the kind of player you want on the field for large chunks of a playoff game, but he's not Aaron Moorehead either.

QB Josh Betts I got the idea into my head somehow that Betts isn't eligible for the practice squad anymore (there's a several year time limit.) I can't find anything to confirm this, so he may be back, but if not some undrafted rookie will begin his tenure as the Colts practice QB.

LB Brandon Acher LB is thin on the roster so they need to keep a few guys in the system in case of injury.

S Brandon Condren solid player, but never saw the field much as a rookie.

OT Micheal Toudouze He was the second best left tackle on the Colts roster last year, but we all know that two good quarters does not a good tackle make.

Stay in shape and by the phone-

TE Bryan Fletcher The odd man out with the addition of the two rookies. Fletcher's been in the system a while. If they do cut him they'll keep tabs on him.

DB Melvin Bullit played well in the few spots I saw him. He outjumped Randy Moss in the endzone, something very few players can say.

DE Jeff Charlston decent against the run, didn't really generate a pass rush.

HB Clifton Dawson didn't impress last season, but he was an undrafted rookie. If Keith is snatched up as soon as he's cut, Dawson is the natural replacement on the practice squad.

OL Mike Elgin Because Polian loves centers and I love Hawkeyes

LB Victor Worsley he's been on the roster and practice squad. If injuries happen he'll be moving up.

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