As we noted in our recaps of both the pre and post draft news conferences for the Indianapolis Colts, it was evident to us that longtime Colts President (now 'Vice Chairman') Bill Polian had taken a step back and given his son, General Manager Chris Polian, more control over the Colts draft. Regardless of how things panned out, this was Chris Polian's draft, not Bill's.
"The dynamic has changed, there is no two ways about that,'' said Bill Polian, who has overseen Colts drafts since 1998 with the help of a support staff that has included his son, senior player personnel consultant Dom Anile, player personnel director Tom Telesco, head coaches Jim Mora, Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, assistant coaches and countless scouts.
"Chris set the parameters. He did the study that gave us the road map as to where we needed to go. We stayed with that.
"Your interest, I know, is what happens in the room. Nothing much has changed there.''
The Colts again were led by a four-man panel: the Polians, Telesco and Caldwell. It was their consensus that retooled the offensive line with tackles Anthony Castonzo (first round) and Ben Ijalana (second), and delivered high-energy tackle Drake Nevis (third) to the defense.
Now, as we all know, this idea of 'consensus' is a load of bull. I'm sure anyone in the room can raise their hand and say, 'Hey, let's think about this guy.' But, at the end of the day, someone needs to make the decision. Someone must be in charge and make the call. From 1998-2010, that person was the team president.
Now, the 'dynamic is different.'
This is an shift because, as we all have seen, this draft for the Colts is wildly popular with fans. They clearly focused on 'need,' not the age old 'best player available' song and dance that Bill Polian often gave us. Equally important is that they did not reach for need players. They clearly identified who they wanted, and in the case of Ben Ijalana, they went out and got the guy.
Now, keep in mind, the last time the team traded up to get an offensive linemen in the second round, it was for Arkansas left tackle Tony Ugoh in 2007. That deal was put together and executed by Chris Polian (or, so the story goes). This year, with Chris Polian pretty firmly at the helm of the 2011 NFL Draft for the Colts, they traded up to get Ijalana, a tackle from Villanova, in Round Two.
Now, call me crazy, but I highly doubt a trade like that required the 'consensus' of four men in one room. Chris Polian made that trade, and if anyone didn't like it, they could take a walk. Just my opinion.
I don't mean this to sound as if I'm bashing Bill Polian, but it might come off that way. It's been evident to guys like myself, Matt Grecco, Collin McCollough (when he wrote here), and Dan Kadar at Mocking The Draft that Ole Bill had been slipping of late. His draft record the last four years has been quite poor. Ugoh, Mike Pollak, and Donald Brown are all busts. Jerry Hughes was horrible last year, and it's very likely not one player from the 2007 draft will be a starter for Indy in 2011. For a team that refuses to sign veteran free agents, that's not good.
So, while I won't say I'm happy Chris Polian has, essentially, taken over the draft day decisions and strategy of this team, I think the change was due. Like it or not, Chris Polian will take over for his father, barring anything short of a disaster in 2011. We need to see if he can get the job done.
So far, I'm pleased with the results.