One day after the draft, it's impossible to know if the Colts made the right choices over the past three days.
We have no idea of Castonzo will be a 10 year starter or if Carter will be bullying his way in from the goal line seven or eight times next year.
Until players step on the field for two or three years, no one will know if they are going to pan out. What we can evaluate is the thought process of the team, and in this case the Colts have made their thinking clear.
Over the last three seasons, Indy has lost playoff games in which the team's inability to convert a 3rd and 1 was front and center.
In 2008, the Colts needed one yard in third quarter for a big first down against the Chargers and failed to convert. With minutes remaining in the game, they needed one more yard to put away the Chargers, but Gijon Robinson missed his block, and the Colts had to punt instead of taking a knee and moving on.
In 2009, the Colts needed one more yard at the end of the first half to take a 10-3 lead into halftime. Mike Hart never had a chance.
2010, the Colts failed on multiple 3rd and 1s, paving the way to 1 point loss against New York.
By taking two linemen and a big bruising back in Delone Carter, the Colts are declaring to the rest of the NFL, "NEVER AGAIN".
The only question is whether or not that is the right lesson to learn from those playoff losses.
The Colts were 1st in 'power run' situations (3rd or 4th and less than 2 yards to go) in 2007, but dropped to 21st, 12th, and 22nd the last three years. Mediocre, but not awful.
Frankly, the right lesson to learn from the Super Bowl was that the defense forced one 3rd down in the second half. The right lesson to learn was that Caldwell was too conservative in calling for three runs at the end of the half, and he should have had the Colts try and mount a drive. The right lesson to learn from the Jets loss was the defense completely crumbled in the second half.
I have no quibble with any of the players Indy took. I have no idea if they are good or bad. I do question whether the team is rebuilding the 2004 Colts. The offense wasn't bad in 2010, especially given the injuries. I have no question but that it will be an unstoppable force in 2011. I fully expect Indy to field the #1 offense in football. It will be scary good.
Unfortunately, we've seen how that story ends.
The Colts defense was BAD in 2010. They were 26th in DVOA against the pass, and their defensive passer rating was 27th. This is a team that desperately needed safety help. While this maybe wasn't the draft to find it, there's little question the Colts enter 2011 with a gaping whole in their secondary. The Colts tackles did not play well. Their corners and linebackers battled injuries, and their safeties were a mess. I see absolutely no reason to expect better from the defense in 2011. They have not improved at all.
I'm as happy as anyone about the pick of Nevis, but as the "What to Expect" series will show, the Colts can't count on any production from him in his rookie season. They might get some, but it's quite rare. Perhaps Chris Rucker can play safety at the next level, but if he can't, the Colts will be forced to bring back Melvin Bullitt who is nothing more than an average player at best.
Yes, it's possible that the linebacker play will get better as Angerer and Conner learn the system. However, there's little question that barring free agent signings, major leaps forward, and much better injury luck, however, that the Colts defense will be a bottom 10 and quite possibly a bottom 5 unit next year. The Colts will win 12 plus games in 2011, but will they be able to make a stand in the playoffs?
I have serious doubts.
Was the lesson to be learned from the playoff losses that the Colts needed to bulk up on offense or that they needed to upgrade the defense who collapsed in four straight playoff losses?
I'm left wondering if the team didn't learn the wrong lesson.
Draft Notes and Links:
- Everyone wants to know how the selection of Carter affects Donald Brown. Frankly, I think he's the safest back for the moment. I can't see how Mike Hart makes the roster in 2011. Outside of the Houston game, he averaged just 3.3 yards a carry last year. He can't stay healthy, and is smaller, slower version of Carter. Brown and Carter bring very different styles to the table. Having two backs with diverse skills isn't a bad thing.
- A couple of fist fights in college don't scare me. I'm not sure that players' fighting makes them character risks. I'd be much more worried about drugs and/or incidents involving women.
- As near as I can tell, none of the players Indy picked ever came in for a visit.
- Joe Baker and I will be doing a draft podcast tonight. Starting tomorrow, I'll be running "What to Expect". Also note, we are moving back to the Livefyre commenting system. They promise me the bugs are worked out. We'll see.