If you’ve read me consistently, followed me on Twitter and listened to the CA Radio podcasts for the last seven months, you probably know that my opinion of the Colts offensive line is pretty low. Heck, you probably only need to have read one article, read a few tweets or listened to one show to know that. If I had a nickel for every time I mocked the Colts interior line, well, I probably wouldn’t be blogging.
Rich people don’t blog. They buy people to do that for them. You really think that Mark Cuban writes this? At best he has a secretary take down his angry mutterings and then pays another person to transform those into a semi-coherent blog post.
But I digress.
The point is, I don’t like the Colts offensive line. The interior is a mess, and it’s one of the biggest things holding the Colts back, especially because of their (less-than-ideal) philosophy based on running the ball and being flexible in different offensive sets.
Yet, despite the fact that I have such a low opinion of said line, as do most Colts fans, I do not think that the Colts should spend a high draft pick on a lineman. In fact, I’ve largely ignored the offensive line completely when looking at draft needs and potential draft targets.
If I think the offensive line was such a problem in 2013, then why wouldn’t I support spending an early draft pick on one? There’s disconnect there. It seems crazy.
But I have a reason. I promise.
First, let’s take a step back and remember who’s actually going to be on the roster next year. For most of 2013, the Colts’ interior offensive line consisted the following players: Samson Satele, Mike McGlynn, Jeff Linkenbach, Joe Reitz and Hugh Thomas. Of those players, I’d argue that only Reitz played passably, and a concussion and stubborn coaching kept him from being on the field too often.
But, let’s look at the players projected for 2014.
Currently, the starting lineup would include Donald Thomas, Samson Satele and Hugh Thornton.
Now, while the Satele desperately needs to be replaced, the other two don’t look so bad. Thomas has played well when healthy in the past, and while the Colts do need some solid depth behind him, they don’t need to pick up a second starting-caliber player to sit behind him. Thornton didn’t look good as a rookie, but he did get better as the year went along, and Colts Authority OL guru Ben Gundy thinks he has a lot of potential.
After spending a third-round pick on Thornton last season, you want to give him his chance at the starting spot. I’d certainly sign some depth that can push him in the offseason, but that’s about it.
So it comes down to center. The Colts desperately need one to replace Samson Satele. Could they go to the draft for that? I suppose, but they did spend a fourth-round pick on Khaled Holmes last season, do you see them spending a second or third-rounder in 2014? No, I’d rather see them try to develop Holmes behind a solid veteran center, something that can be had in the offseason.
Basically, it all comes down to needs, and how the Colts can best fill them. Offensive line is definitely a need for the Colts, but they already have their two tackles taken care of, their starting left guard taken care of and their *potential* starting right guard on the roster. They need a center, but really that’s it.
Personally, I see other positions in much more dire need of an infusion of starting-caliber youthful talent, such as inside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback, etc. The Colts need to get better depth along the offensive line for when injuries occur, but I’m not shooting for depth with my second and third round picks. I’m hoping to get potential starting pieces.
I wouldn’t necessarily EXPECT that from my second and third-round picks, but that would be the goal. Depth can be had later.
So, will I be upset if the Colts draft a lineman in the early rounds. At the moment, probably. I'll probably rant and rave on Twitter and drown my sorrows in mint Oreos and YouTube clips of bad comedians. But once I calm down and take a step back, I'll be ok with it. The Colts are so dereft of talent across the board that going BPA will pay off in the long run. If an offensive lineman is a steal at that spot, it probably would work out for the best.
I'm just saying I'd prefer it if there was an inside linebacker or wide receiver who was a steal.
I completely disagree. If the Colts are serious about this whole running game thing, offensive line has to be a priority. For too many years as Colts fans, we've talked ourselves in to the this-guy-looks-like-he-has-potential act. If we learned anything from the Seahawks, and last year's Ravens, and the Steelers that actually won Superbowls, it's that offensive line talent doesn't appear out of the blue. If you want to build a marquee offensive line, you need at least one or two marquee linemen. No one on the Colts roster is that reliable, 100% bookend kind of guy. Costanzo and Cherilus would be good, solid secondary guys on a line that had two dominant guards, or a top of the line center and as true mauler at LG. But right now, the Colts don't have any top of the league linemen. We've spent too much time waiting for guys to pan out because they "have potential." The Ben Ijalana of our dreams is not walking through that door any time soon. If the Colts want a championship offensive line, they need top end talent. Just like quarterbacks, you generally only find that early in the draft. You can find plenty of serviceable guys in the late rounds, and just like any other position, they pop up all the time, but all the marquee guys are early draftees (first two rounds-ish). The Colts can't continue to be a team that makes their quarterback bail himself out and throw 40 times a game while watching a team with a lesser QB beat them in the playoffs because he had a balanced offense. We've had too much of that already.
GRANTED, if it's a choice between a defender that will get the Colts to a position where we can talk about their defense neutralizing opposing QBs like the Seahawks do, we can talk. But that doesn't happen over night. One marquee pick up on the OL will make a more noticeable impact that any one guy on the defense right now.
Personally, I feel just the opposite. I think we need to find a good FA center and pay the price. That's the anchor for years to come. Then draft the best O lineman available with our first pick, even though I know that's frowned upon. Do we really know if Thomas can play 16 games when he's never started more than 12 in his career? Reitz can't be considered depth if he's injured constantly. And McGlynn and Satele should be playing arena ball. Yes, we could use an inside LB but we're not desperate. Maybe do another article on who goes if we draft a WR, and how much playing time he'll get.
I'm a bit confused about all the push for a wide receiver. Of all Indy's problems, trying to add depth to their receiving core isn't one of them ... I get that Wayne's getting old, but having Hilton and two very good receiving tight ends should force their interests elsewhere.
I still agree with Kyle's sentiment - unless you're looking at a specific guy, drafting linemen early instead of late doesn't really matter as much as it would with other positions - but Indy needs help on defense much more than on offense. Put it this way:
Luck suffered a bit without Wayne; he threw for more attempts, completions, and yards per game, but with fewer touchdowns, more interceptions, and a lower QBR per game. They also played an easier schedule on the back half.
Then again, their cornerbacks at the moment are Davis (good), Toler (unwatchably terrible), Butler (off more than he is on), and Cassius Vaughn (Cassius Vaughn). Maybe Josh Gordy is an option, but he's started once in two seasons. With Bethea on the way out (possibly), and the Colts ranking 26th against the run, Indy needs defense - period.
They can 'survive' one more season with Hilton/Wayne.
I'm hoping for a nice big outside WR prospect to fall into our laps second round, personally (or maybe just one that can catch a ball or something wild like that). Then some defense and linemen.
FWIW I don't want OL early either.
I just don't think the OL is as big a difference maker in terms of winning games as one of all the other missing pieces (i.e. WR and pretty much everything on defense).
Heartily agreed on all counts. I'm terrified that they're going to bring back Satele for another year, though.
I know! They should trade Luck for all of the picks! It's not like they want to build around a star QB. Send him to St Louis or some other place with for two first round picks and a few later round picks. Then Grigson could draft Clowy and really build up a good defense while being mired in mediocrity for a few years. It's pretty much the only way to build up that balanced team Irsay wants so badly.
I think the point is that the Colts shouldn't be serious about running. Every stat in the book shows that pass defense and throwing the ball wins both games and championships. Better have a great defense, particularly one that hits the QB and forces turnovers, than a great running game. Running all the time just isn't necessary to win. The Colts won their division and a playoff game with almost no running game. Throw it a better defense and they could have made the SB.
I agree on the WR issue. I think that recent history has borne out that you can thrive with less than impressive skill guys as long as you give your QB time to throw. The last three Superbowl winners had nothing special at WR outside their top guy (Cruz, Boldin, Harvin) and you could make the case that it's actually this last 6. You need to have one reliable guy, and a few guys that fill their roles well. I love my fellow Colts fans, but a lot of them seem to think that the Polian Colts are the only model for a successful team. We've learned the hard way that is not the case. The only reason you'd need to do that is if the defense continued to be so unwatchably bad that Luck would need to put up 30-35 points every week to win. I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I've had ENOUGH of that kind of football. Improve the offensive line, improve the defense and make everyone's life a little easier. PLEASE.
The draft is probably the best way to fix the D, but I also love to Grigson actually spend good money on a guy that actually has talent rather than some random oft injured prospect. That Hardy guy in Carloina, for instance, has been a beast against the run and disrupts passing sets. He wouldn't be cheap, but a dude with real talent could make a world of difference on Indy's defense. Mathis is pretty exposed there all by himself.
I know this is sarcasm, but that's exactly how the 49ers, Seahawks and Panthers built. Mire in mediocrity, build defense and OL and then get your QB.
I totally agree about defense, no question. BUT, the last three Superbowl champs would beg to differ about the run game situation. None of those teams had elite QBs, and they all relied heavily on running the ball and letting the pass pro make their QBs look better than they were. The whole it's-a-passing-league sentiment has gone so far to the extreme that people are ignoring the fact that running teams have been winning the actual championships. Granted, those teams' wild cards are the elite pass defense for the most part.