2016 Draft: "Colts Front Office Needs to Earn Money Finding "Diamonds in Ruff" Instead of High-Priced Free Agents.
Let's take a trip back down memory lane. Remember when Bill Polian was the Colts GM? His first pick was a no brainer in picking "some guy" out Tennessee to play QB who would later go on to be one of he game's best ever at the position. Not many were picking Peyton Manning to slip by the Colts even with all the hype surrounding Ryan Leaf (Remember him?) as the only QB who was constantly mentioned along side his leading up to that infamous 98 draft. No, what Bill Polian and his staff did the following year is what gave a shining example of how a good GM earns his paycheck when they chose unknown commodity from "The U" in RB Edgerrin James. For those who don't remember, Ricky Williams was viewed as the "best RB in the draft" according to everyone, except those camped on West 56th street. The "nashing of the teeth" and "dismay" of Indy fans was short lived as it didn't take long for them to see how special James was as both a RB and WR out of the backfield. Another "under the radar" pick was a little known Safety out of Iowa in Bob Sanders. Drafted in the 2rd round, Sanders would go on and earn a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the game, and one of its most feared. The only drawback on Sanders was his inability to stay healthy. Even more impressive was 5th round draft pick Rober Mathis. We all know how he turned out. All 4 of these picks were great examples of GMs earning their money in the war room of the NFL draft as they would all go on to become cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.
2015 is a year many of us would like to forget with regard to the Colts as it was one riddled with injuries to a squad that basically underachieved given the talent that it had available, especially on the offensive side of the ball. When the Colts front office selected Phillip Dorsett with the 29th overrall pick in the draft, in spite of the surprise to many, the overall perception from critics and analysts alike was that at the very least the Colts would be an offensive Juggernaut as Dorsett would only add to an embarrassment of riches QB Andrew Luck would have at his already potent disposal of weapons. that never materialized because the Colts had a more vital position that wasn't properly addressed: "The Offensive line." Andrew Luck not only got hurt, but also missed games for the 1st time in his young NFL career because of it. Time and time again we've all heard the coaches say "We are going to build monster on W 56th street." When you think of a monster, you think of a team that's a "bully" on both sides of the ball. A team that beats you up and out physicals you with a punishing running game on offense and a front seven that get's after the opposing team's QB on defense. A bully is a team that dominates the line of scrimmage and wins consistently in the trenches.
When you look at the history of past SB winners, there's a reason why you see teams like the Steelers, Ravens, 49ers, Cowboys and even the current Seahawks consistently as either winners of multiple championships, or in the biggest games of the season come playoff time. All of those teams carry the same physical traits mentioned previously. They also prove another valuable point of reference: "When you have a franchise QB you don't have to surround him with 1st round talent at every skill position in order for him to be successful." A QB like Andrew Luck doesn't need A-1 talent at WR for him to be effective. Heck, look at what Cam Newton is doing in Carolina with the likes of Ted Ginn Jr. For those of you who missed that, Ted Ginn Jr is Carolina's #1 WR, and the Panthers are in the NFCCG... When you have a franchise QBs make the talent around them better. We've seen Manning do this many times when he was here in Indy during seasons like 2010 in with Blair White and Taj Smith filling in for an injured Marvin Harrison. Manning elevated the play of talent around him and led the Colts to a 10-6 record en-route to the playoffs. You can argue that the Colts had sub par competition from playing in the AFC South, but that still doesn't excuse the approach that should be used in building the current roster.
As I said before, Andrew Luck doesn't need the best WRs money can buy in order to make the Colts a championship caliber team. All he needs is a team that's built to win the battle of the trenches on both sides of the ball. If you give Andrew Luck a the very least a top 10-15 defense with an o-line that can keep him clean, the Colts will be in the conversation for deep playoff runs for years to come. If you give Luck o-line that can no only protect him, but also a defense better than top 10, you've got a dynasty.
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