With the 22nd Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select...

Let's not kid ourselves. The loss against the New York Jets still hurts. Especially because it was rather unnecessary. The only thing that slowly helps me to recover is look ahead to next season and speculate about where this Colts organization is going. The first mock drafts are already circulating the internet and many more are to come. We have already heard several interesting choices who the Colts could pick at number 22 and more will come. But I was trying to somehow come up with a solid educated guess who the Colts will pick. Not only based on need, but also based on another factor: history.

Read after the jump who I think the Colts will select in the first round of the NFL Draft...

I like to crunch numbers and I like statistics. Sure, they can be misleading, but they also give you something tangible to work with. Nobody of us knows what's going on in Bill Polian's mind (clearly) and nobody will know for sure who the Colts will select in the first round. But we can all guess and that's why we have mock drafts. The often recommended blog 18to88 keeps a pretty handy overview of all available mock drafts in their weekly "Mock Consensus" where all possible Colts draft picks are listed:

According to this list, we are currently looking at four OT, three DT, and one OG:

Gabe Carimi, OT, Illinois
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Rodney Hudson G, Florida State
Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Tyron Smith, OT, USC

One player that was also advertised on this blog and who I like as well, Austin Pettis, is not included in this list because he is nowhere listed as a first round pick (yet). I do hope the Colts grab him in Round 2 but that remains to be seen. After all, Polian has never drafted a Boise State player for the Colts.

But how can we more than just blindly guess who Polian will pick? I believe looking at his track record in the draft could be a good indicator of who the Colts might be looking at in the first round. When the Colts drafted Pat Angerer, this blog suggested that it only proved Polian's love for Big Ten players. In this post, I will use exactly this approach to look at how Bill Polian drafts: which schools does he like and particularly which conferences does he like. Let's start on the small scale with the top schools Polian drafted from (Polian overall made 103 draft picks as GM of the Indianapolis Colts).

Michigan - 6 Picks
Ohio State - 5 Picks
Tennessee - 5 Picks
Wisconsin - 4 Picks
BYU - 3 Picks
Georgia - 3 Picks
Iowa - 3 Picks
Miami - 3 Picks
Penn State - 3 Picks

So by looking at the schools individually, we can see that Polian likes players from traditionally strong football  programs with more or less proximity to Indianapolis itself. However, none of the prospected draft players this year comes from any of these schools. Let's take a closer look at only the first round picks and their respective schools:

Miami - 2 Picks
Ohio State

Again, Polian likes football power houses but the pool of schools is a little bit more diverse than it is overall with regards to all rounds of a Polian draft. Miami is the only school with two picks, Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne. DT Drake Nevis (LSU) is the only player from a school that Polian already looked at once in the first round during his tenure with the Colts.

In other words, we are just as wise as before when it comes to looking at the individual schools. However, it is much more interesting to look at the conferences Polian tends to draft from. Here are the front runners:

Big Ten - 26 Picks
SEC - 18 Picks
ACC - 13 Picks
Pac-10 - 11 Picks
Big 12 - 7 Picks
Big East - 6 Picks
MWC - 6 Picks
C-USA - 5 Picks

Polian just loves to draft players from the East half of the United States. More than half of all players Polian drafted for the Colts come from either the Big Ten, the SEC, or the ACC. More importantly, every fourth player Polian selected comes from the Big Ten Conference. Let's look at the first round drafts again:

Big Ten - 3 Picks
ACC - 2 Picks
MWC - 2 Picks
SEC - 2 Picks
Big East - 2 Picks

Again, the Big Ten Conference is the front runner, and in line with the overall results, every fourth player the Colts drafted under Polian in Round 1 came from the Big Ten Conference. MWC and Big East also made it on the list twice, both are also among the top schools overall. But let's look at our prospects again:

Gabe Carimi, OT, Big Ten
Anthony Castonzo, OT, ACC
Rodney Hudson G, ACC
Corey Liuget, DT, Big Ten
Drake Nevis, DT, SEC
Stephen Paea, DT, Pac-10
Derek Sherrod, OT, SEC
Nate Solder, OT, Big 12/Pac-10
Tyron Smith, OT, Pac-10

According to these statistics, Corey Liuget would be the pick for the Colts but he is not a clear cut first round talent. Polian never drafted a Pac-10 player in the first round, so the chances of seeing Stephen Paea or Tyron Smith (who some projected into the Top-10 picks) in a Colts uniform are slim. And neither has he drafted a Big 12 player in the first round, so the Nate Solder pick seems a little bit more unlikely. That leaves Carimi, Castonzo, Hudson, Nevis, Sherrod, and possibly Liuget. Polian recently admitted that he should have drafted OT Roger Saffold, and the Offensive Line still needs to be addressed, so the time may have come for Polian to go for an OT. Hudson plays the wrong position and is not enough of a first round talent to warrant a pick here, but more importantly, the SEC outruns the ACC by five picks, making it Polian's second favorite division. DT Drake Nevis is projected more as a second round pick, so he would be a great option on Day 2. Old habits die hard, and looking at the offensive line might be all the change we can get. DT Corey Liuget would be a solid pick here, but if still available, the Indianapolis Colts will select OT Derek Sherrod with the 22nd pick in the 2011 Draft (based on Polian's draft history). A close second will be OT Gabe Carimi who is projected as the fourth best tackle in the draft according to and ideally fits Polian's draft strategy (tip to fiftycal2004). Sherrod just seems to be the most pro-ready player at his position.


(On a personal note: I hope you liked reading this post. It is my first one and I'd welcome any feedback on how to make posts more interesting and reader-friendly. Thanks.)

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.

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