While looking over a lot of mock drafts I've begun to identify certain scenarios that will affect very much what the Colts can do at 27. I want to list some of them and see if anyone thinks the reasoning is off. No need to tell me that mock drafts don't mean much come April 25th, this is more an exercise to make the mock drafts I'm reading a little more significant, as well as put free agent moves which may occur in the next month in their proper light as they relate to the Colts' pick.
First among the dynamics that seem to impact the Colts is the rising or falling of Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. It's relevant because a few of the teams that could potentially pick receivers or defensive tackles in the draft are also in need of a quarterback. Teams that have been listed taking Sanchez, i.e., the Jags, the 49ers, the Bears, and the Jets are all also in the market for a #1 WR. That means the availability of guys like Percy Harvin, Heyward-Bey, Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt becomes less and less likely the longer Sanchez stays on the board, because if teams are passing, it means they're drafting potential Colts receivers. In all likelihood Sanchez will go in the first half of the first round, but should he take a huge fall it will most likely negatively impact the Colts, who aren't in need of a franchise QB right now. I say "probably" because should he make it to the Jets, it sets the stage for a Colt-friendly situation.
That situation depends moslty on the draft stock of Josh Freeman. More of a wildcard, Freeman has been forecast most often going in the early second round or later. But if Sanchez is gone and Tampa Bay, without a pick in the second round, thinks it needs a franchise QB now, Freeman will have to be their choice. That's important because one of Tampa Bay's other needs could be taken care of by drafting a defensive tackle here, thus taking one more potential DT out of a very limited first-round pool.
Another scenario to watch is the fate of Brandon Pettigrew. The other team likely to be in the market for a defensive tackle near where the Colts pick is the Falcons. However, with Pettigrew Atlanta could add not only a new weapon for franchise QB Matt Ryan but also strengthen the running offense that keeps Ryan from having to develop with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Pettigrew has been mocked going as early as 11th to the Bills, but if he makes it past the Jets, who have stated interest in drafting a more traditional TE to pair with pass-catcher Dustin Keller, he will likely be available for the Falcons at 24. Significantly, the Falcons have passed on free agent TE L. J. Smith already this offseason, who ended up with the Ravens, a team not likely to be interested in the same kind of three-technique DT ideal for the Tampa 2.
Last, but not least, will be the rising or falling of the 3-4 DE/OLB types, none of whom should interest the Colts. If Everette Brown, Brian Orakpo, Aaron Maybin, etc. all go early it could suck some of the other DE/OLBs (Robert Ayers, anyone?) forecast as 2nd-rounders into the first, where at least 3 teams are looking for talent to help with the switch away from the 4-3.