With the NFL draft approaching, we’ll examine the needs that each team has to address. First up is the team with the first pick, the Indianapolis Colts.
Quarterback: The Colts’ 2011 season was defined by the absence of quarterback Peyton Manning, whose offseason neck surgeries caused him to miss the season, and caused the Colts to be the worst team in football. The Colts’ 2012 season will be defined by the presence of a new quarterback, chosen first overall 14 years after Manning, who will lead the Colts, they hope, for a decade or more to come.
From all indications, Colts owner Jim Irsay decided during the 2011 season that he wanted Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to inherit the franchise quarterback title from Manning, and that’s what the Colts will do with the No. 1 overall pick. Many observers believe Robert Griffin III is the better bet, but the Colts have looked locked in on Luck for months now. He’s going to be the pick.
Defensive tackle: New Colts head coach Chuck Pagano wants to create a very different defense than the one they’ve had in Indianapolis for the last decade, and the biggest piece to the puzzle will be finding a defensive tackle who can play the role that Haloti Ngata plays in Baltimore, where Pagano was the defensive coordinator before getting the Colts job. Indianapolis will be thrilled it if a big guy who can man the middle is there in the second round, where they own the 34th overall pick.
Wide receiver: Pierre Garcon has left for the Redskins and Reggie Wayne won’t last forever, so the Colts would like to draft a receiver who can become a target for Luck for years to come. If they go with a receiver in the second round, Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech or Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina are a couple of options.
Tight end: Last year’s top two tight ends, Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme, are both gone. New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians likes two tight end sets, Luck loved going to his tight ends at Stanford, and Indianapolis would love to have a young tight end for Luck to go to as well.
Cornerback: The deeper we get into this the more it looks like it would be easier to list the positions that aren’t needs on the Colts’ Swiss-cheese like roster. But cornerback is certainly a spot where they’d like to upgrade.
With the first pick, Luck is the man Irsay has been targeting since before he even hired Ryan Grigson and Pagano. After that, Grigson and Pagano need to load up on building a team around Luck, with holes on the roster almost everywhere.