File this under 'facepalm' [emphasis mine]:
Most teams give players a psychological test at the combine, or perhaps at an all-star game or even during a visit to the team facility.
Not every player passes. "We have standards and metrics we’ve used over the years to tell us what constitutes a level acceptable for success in the league," Colts president Bill Polian says. "Virtually every team has norms on which they rely to tell them on whether or not a player may have success. It really is no different from a 40 time or a height weight, a wingspan, or hand size. It’s a matter of what the measurable tell you. If the psychological measurable tell you there is a low chance of success, we simply move on."
The Colts knew Quinn Pitcock had some anxiety issues when they made him a third round pick in 2007. But the problems weren’t enough to scare them away. Over time, Pitcock developed depression that proved problematic.
That's from Dan Pompeii's NFP Sunday Blitz article, which focused on how how the NFL teams evaluate the mental and emotional states of players.
Basically, prior to the 2007 NFL Draft, the Colts knew of Pitcock's anxiety problems, but decided to use a third round pick on him anyway. I can let that go somewhat because it's not like there was a ton of talent immediately following Pitcock in Round Three (pick No. 98). Sure, the Colts could have taken Michael Bush, Jermon Bushrod, Doug Free, or Paul Soliai at that pick, but it's not like a guy like Brendon Mebane was still sitting there.
The real annoyance is when you look at this recent revelation and then consider how the Colts approached the 2008 off-season.
After 2007, the Colts knew defensive tackle Booger McFarland's career was finished. During the 2008 NFL Draft, they passed on Pat Sims, Marcus Harrison, and Dre Moore. Harrison and Moore were both drafted by teams who run the Tampa-2 (Chicago and Tampa Bay, respectively). The Colts didn't aggressively go after free agents like Chris Canty, Corey Williams, or Jovan Haye. Had Bill Polian not traded his first round pick in 2008 for the right to draft Tony Ugoh in 2007, the Colts would have had a shot in Round One of '08 to take defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer out of UNC.
Now, I'm not saying that having any one of these guys would have guaranteed the club another Super Bowl in 2008. However, any one of these players would have provided the Colts with some kind of real depth at DT which, in 2008, the team simply did not have outside Ed Johnson and Quinn Pitcock.
Pitcock shocked everyone when he retired the day everyone was to report to training camp that year, later citing depression and mental anxiety as the reasons why he gave up football. Johnson was kicked off the team after Week One when he was arrested on the Northside of Indianapolis for speeding and marijuana possession.
The Colts spent the rest of the year desperately trying to plug the DT hole, signing cast-offs like Daniel Muir, LaJuan Ramsey, and Antonio Johnson. Brock, Foster, and Dawson started much of 2008 at the DT spots.
The defense surrendered 1,966 rushing yards and 18 rushing TDs in 2008. Backs averaged 4.2 a carry on Indy that year. One back, in particular, was Darren Sproles. He ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries against Indy in their first round playoff loss to the Chargers that season. For the game, the Colts surrendered 167 rushing yards and three TDs on 33 carries (5 yards a carry).
Look, I'm not writing this to slam the Colts for drafting Pitcock, nor am I taking cheap shots at Pitcock himself. The guy had serious mental problems, and he's since tried to get his life back under control. Personally, I'm pulling for him.
However, when the Colts entered the 2008 off-season knowing full well they had a sketchy character guy in Johnson and a possible mental meltdown in Pitcock, how could they not address the DT spot in the draft or free agency? Don't tell me that there wasn't anyone for them to take, because there was. And don't tell me the old, lazy 'hindsight is 20-20' excuse. I don't need hindsight to know that when you build the foundation of your defense on two players with track records that suggest they are not 100% reliable, Murphy's Law will undoubtedly make you pay.
And with the Colts, it did.
Since 2008, Indianapolis still has not been able to adequately address the DT spot. They drafted Fili Moala and Terrence Taylor in 2009. Taylor didn't even make it out of pre-season that year (he's in Arena Football now), and the jury is still out on whether Moala can actually play at this level consistently. Dan Muir and Mookie Johnson have played spotty at best (downright awful at worst) since getting signed as free agents, with Mookie rated as slightly better. 2011 saw Indy take Drake Nevis from LSU in Round Three.
The DT spot is a train wreck for well over a decade, and Colts management has no one to blame but themselves. Hopefully, unlike past years, the Colts will use the upcoming free agent market to finally infuse some talent into this big problem area.