To supplement my first post regarding an overstated concern for our defensive line, this post will make an argument for focusing on offense with our early draft selections.
1) Even with the improvement made defensively last year, which makes it hard to put a huge primer on defensive support, our team wins games through its offense and will continue to do so no matter how awesome our defense becomes. One of the primary reasons for this is that our defense is structured to excel with the lead. Absent the lead, sending our pass rushing bull dogs in with their ears pinned back is less effective. Defense is necessary, don't get me wrong, but for this team, as it has been crafted by Polian and Co., utilizing Peyton Manning's ability to put points on the board is and always will be #1.
2) Kenton Keith's recent run-in with the law aside, it was clear that unless Keith improves in not only his pass-catching ability but also his ability to be an explosive change of pace back (which faded as the year went on), he is not the answer for our back-up running back position. Clifton Dawson did not appear to be the answer and Luke Lawton, while loved by fans as a prototypical underdog, will never play a role larger than James Mungro did while he was here.
Matt Forte and Chris Johnson provide intriguing prospect, should they fall to the late second round. Matt Forte is more of a "bruiser" with more size and concentration on a low CG allowing him to gain yards after contact. Chris Johnson, on the other hand, provides the kind of speed that would force defenses to adjust (imagine him on the stretch play) and the kind of pass-catching ability that makes him a perfect answer for our back-up needs. Johnson also includes promise in special teams as a return man. If Johnson would fall to us, which I don't believe he will, he would be the better back. Why? In the NFL you draft for the value the player brings to your team. Forte may be able to carry a heavier load than Johnson should Addai go down, however, Johnson provides a better overall value to the team. In limited carries, which either back would likely get barring injury to Addai, Johnson should be fine to change the pace. Johnson, however, unlike Forte, brings that extra dimension in special teams that is also a need for the Colts. If Forte is the only back, of the two, still left on the table he'd likely be better than Keith but Johnson is the better option.
3) Losing Ben Utecht is not overly painful in terms of receiving ability. Some are huge Utecht supporters, and he has shown flashes of real talent and amazing athletic ability for a man his size, however, he is not an irreplaceable receiving option at the TE position. Where his loss hurts most is in run-blocking as D. Clark is above average as a blocker but certainly is not built for the responsibility. Some have suggested Roy Hall as a potential TE. However, even if Hall should move into the position, and I'm not convinced he will be, he is no blocker (although seeing him knock out an NFL lineman on special teams as a rookie might be an argument against my premise). Accordingly, if Gijon Robinson does not have the faith of the Colts front office, we need to find a big body TE who excels as a blocker and has the kind of hands Utecht did, and hopefully better hands to secure the ball after the catch. A TE in rd. 2 is possible if a standout is still available, but assuming that won't happen I imagine rd. 3 or 4 is better suited for the pick. We don't need something mind-blowing here and should not reach for it unless a no-brainer is available at #59.
4) The offensive line took a blow with the loss of Jake Scott. Additionally, Ryan Diem didn't have an impressive year and has had knee problems which may make finding a replacement, one capable of coming in now or after a year or two of development, may well be a good idea. John Greco has been suggested to fill this role. I think grabbing a player like Greco to develop into Diem's replacement would be a very smart move. O-Line depth is something of a concern and protecting Peyton Manning, believe it or not, is even more important than our pass rush.
5) The jury is still out on our need for a WR. There are a couple of reasons. First, we don't know Marvin's status. If he's back at 100%, we could afford to wait and address this area in round 1 of next year's draft. However, returning to our Special Teams needs, a WR prospect with return ability should be considered. Depth at WR is nice anytime you can have it and we can't afford to get ourselves into the same situation as last year. However, with a healthy Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez... we're really talking about a need for a 4th WR. Assuming Roy Hall gets more reps with Manning in the off-season and Devin Aromashodu continues to develop, the need for a WR drops off dramatically. I've seen people who dismiss Aromashodu but honestly, I thought he was more impressive than Thorpe and Moorehead. When called on he did his job. His timing with Manning wasn't there but how could he be expected to have that given his situation. Short of it... if Hall develops and Aromashodu sticks around... our WR need drops down our list of priorities quickly. If Polian and Co. lack confidence in the development of these two players, we'll see a WR drafted and will probably look earlier rather than later. Maybe after a DE, but not much longer for sure.
More food for thought.