To Offensive Tackle or Not To Offensive Tackle

ALL of the Mock Drafts coming out right now are projecting the Colts taking an OT.  I think s that's what most of us here are hoping for as well. I was thinking back at who has played tackle for the Colts in the Polian years and how they came to the Colts. 

Now, Polian did walk into a franchise tackle in Tarik Glenn.  He did not draft Tarik, but had an anchor at LT for his first 8 years in Indianapolis.  A franchise tackle normally comes out of the first round and that's was the case with Tarik.  He was the 19th pick overall in '97.  Let's look at who Polian gets in the first round and where our tackles come from.

First I totaled all the first round picks that have been taken by all teams since Bill stepped in with the Colts.  Here's that breakdown.

All 1st Round Picks
Year QB RB WR TE OT OG C DE DT LB CB FS SS
2010 2 3 2 1 4 1 1 5 4 2 5 0 2
2009 3 3 6 1 4 0 2 4 3 4 2 0 0
2008 2 5 0 1 8 0 0 4 2 3 5 1 0
2007 2 2 6 1 3 1 0 3 3 4 4 2 1
2006 3 4 1 2 1 1 1 3 3 6 5 0 2
2005 3 3 6 1 2 1 1 3 2 4 6 0 0
2004 4 3 7 2 3 0 0 2 3 3 4 1 0
2003 4 2 3 1 3 0 1 6 4 2 6 0 0
2002 3 2 3 3 4 1 0 4 4 2 4 1 1
2001 1 3 6 1 2 2 0 3 6 1 5 0 1
2000 1 5 5 2 3 0 0 3 2 6 2 1 0
1999 5 2 3 0 4 1 1 5 2 3 5 0 0
1998 2 4 3 0 3 2 0 5 0 4 6 0 1
TOTAL 35 41 51 16 44 10 7 50 38 44 59 6 8
Percentage 9% 10% 12% 4% 11% 2% 2% 12% 9% 11% 14% 1% 2%
Offensive Picks 204 50% Defensive Picks 205 50%

Something to compare to and my thoughts after the jump...

Let's compare the overall breakdown to what Polian does in the first round.  We'll go with percentages as quantity will be skewed.

Polian 1st Round Picks
Year QB RB WR TE OT OG C DE DT LB CB FS SS
Polian 2 5 2 1 2 0 0 3 0 3 5 0 0
  9% 22% 9% 4% 9% 0% 0% 13% 0% 13% 22% 0% 0%

These are ALL of Polian's 1st round picks, not just the ones in Indy.  I know we all like to clamor about how off the charts Polian tends to be.  I notice that is not totally true.  His breakdown matches that of the rest league pretty closely.  He only varies by a measurable amount in the number of RBs and CBs he drafts in the first round.  Everything else is fairly even and makes up these big differences.

We also tend to think that Polian builds his offense through the first round and the defense later in the draft.  If you look at the split, it is 52% offense.  Much more even than I expected to see.  Also notice that the NFL-wide trend is 1 player from being exactly even.

There are NO OTs in that first round breakdown.  Polian traded a first round pick to take Ugoh in the 2nd so that could be counted, but that's splitting hairs.  Does he get them later in the draft?  Where do the OTs come from?  Here's a breakdown of ALL of Poian's draft picks since he came to the Colts.

All Polian Picks
Round QB RB WR TE OT OG C DE DT LB CB FS SS K P Total
1 1 3 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 11
2 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 3 3 1 1 0 0 13
3 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 3 6 1 0 0 0 15
4 0 0 1 1 0 5 0 0 2 3 3 1 0 0 0 16
5 0 0 1 1 0 2 1 4 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 14
6 2 2 1 1 2 0 1 0 1 1 2 0 2 0 1 16
7 0 1 0 0 0 3 1 2 3 1 4 0 0 2 1 18
TOTAL 3 6 7 5 3 12 3 9 9 15 21 3 3 2 2 103

LOOK AT THE OTs!  Polian has had 103 draft picks in Indy and has drafted 3 OTs!!  In order they are Tony Ugoh, Charlie Johnson and Makoa Freitas.  Charlie wasn't even listed as a Tackle when he was drafted.  He moved there from Guard.  What was the one thing we ALL wanted last year?  Starting LT.  What's the one thing we ALL want this year?  Starting LT.  Unless Billy bucks this trend, there will be no LT from this draft either.

Currently there are only 5 players listed as tackle on the Colts roster.  Rietz, Linkenbach, Johnson, Diem and Toudouze.  Rietz, Linkenbach and Toudouze were Undrafted FAs or Practice Squad players.  Diem and Johnson were both drafted, but as Guards who switched to Tackle.  Diem was a 4th and Johnson was a 6th.

So what does this tell us?  Polian doesn't draft players that are classified as tackles coming out of college.  He drafts inside guys that may be able to shift to tackle later in their careers.  I can draw one of two conclusions from this.  1)  Bill feels more confident evaluating inside linemen than bookends.  2)  Bill sees more value in the inside linemen than the outside guys. 

What does this mean for the upcoming draft?  It means that I doubt we see someone projected as an OT taken with the 22nd pick.  I think we may look at some smaller name players in later rounds.  Players like Ben Ijalana out of Villanova or Will Rackley of Lehigh could be targets that can start at Guard and move to Tackle. 

Or, as the case probably is, I am totally wrong and Billy will go OT early and shock us all.

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