It’s all about Luck.
What is the most important position in the National Football League?
The answer is quarterback. There are other critical positions, such as nose tackle in most 3-4 defensive schemes, middle linebacker in 4-3 sets, pass rushing DE/OLBs, etc. But the premier position in the league is quarterback. The one position where one player can completely reverse the success of a team is quarterback.
We saw it last year with the Colts. A playoff team in 2010, the Colts were arguably better overall going into 2011, until Peyton Manning was lost for the season, leading to a 2-14 season. Quarterback is the most important position on the team, and Jim Irsay knows it.
So, that being said, it should be obvious to every Colts fan that Andrew Luck is the pivot point of the Colts’ future. Everything rests on him.
The Colts realize it, which is why Ryan Grigson made it his priority on Friday night to surround Luck with talent that could help improve his development. Not only did he draft Luck’s friend and safety net Coby Fleener at #34, but he also drafted the second best tight end in the draft (some have him rated higher than Fleener) in Dwayne Allen, as well as a burner WR in T.Y. Hilton.
Does the defense have a lot of holes? Absolutely. They are paper thin at CB, S, ILB, and NT, and have questionable talent at DE (3-4 scheme). But, regardless, they can live with drafting two tight ends and a wide receiver in the second and third rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. Why? Because defense really isn’t that important for the 2012 season.
The single most important thing in the 2012 season is the development of Andrew Luck. Everything else is secondary. The Colts aren’t going to compete for a championship, if they are even close to competing for a playoff spot it will be a minor miracle. They can afford to overlook the defense somewhat during this draft in order to do everything they can to help Luck’s development. The two tight end sets that OC Bruce Arians likes to run will (hopefully) thrive with Allen and Fleener, and Hilton should add a deep threat to the Colts WR core.
Nevertheless, don’t read this as a glowing review over the Colts’ draft. I’m not a huge fan of drafting two tight ends in a row, or trading up to take a wide receiver who very well could have been there five picks later. But, I do see the strategy the Colts are taking, and I understand the philosophy. It’s silly to try to grade the draft now, it’s possible that none of the players drafted today start a single game.
Now, the Colts should look to get project players in the final three rounds. They gave up their fourth rounder to move up, so their next pick will be the first pick of the fifth round. The Colts could look offense or defense here, but likely should look for project/depth players on defense, especially nose tackle or corner if the right players fall.
Players to watch if they make it to the overall #136 pick:
OLB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
OLB Tank Carder, TCU
S George Iloka, Boise State
CB Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina
WR Joe Adams, Arkansas
WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa
DT Josh Chapman, Alabama
CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
DT Alameda Ta’amu, Washington
CB Leonard Johnson, Iowa State
ILB James-Michael Johnson, Nevada
CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia
CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia
NT Hebron Fangupo, BYU
WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina