Looking at the draft already? We're not even to Week 3 yet. Yes, I'm afraid so. It's gotten that bad in Indianapolis without Peyton Manning. Much was made about Bill Polian attending the Stanford - Duke game a couple weeks ago, to possibly scout the obvious #1 pick in the draft, Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck. Now, I don't think the Colts will have the worst record in the league this year, and thus would not have the #1 overall pick in the draft, but looking at how they've played the first two week, it's a pretty good bet that they'll be in contention for it.
There have been a lot of comparisons made to the '96-'97 San Antonio Spurs, who lost their best player, David Robinson, for the season. That year the Spurs finished with a record of 20-62, and secured the #1 pick in the draft. The Spurs chose Tim Duncan (like Luck will be for the '12 NFL Draft, Duncan was the obvious #1 overall pick in the '97 NBA Draft). The following season the Spurs, with a healthy David Robinson to go along with Duncan, went 56-26 and reached the Western Conference Finals.
Now, if the Colts were to get Luck, he, of course, wouldn't share the field with Manning, like Duncan and Robinson shared the court together. I find it hard to believe the Colts would pick up Luck anyway, unless Manning isn't coming back. I just don't see the logic behind paying a #1 overall pick to sit on the bench for four years. So, what are the Colts other 1st round options?
1. QB - I have to mention a couple other quarterbacks, who, along with Luck, figure to go in the top 10: Matt Barkley (USC) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma). Again, I think it only makes sense to pick one of these guys if there are serious doubts about Manning ever playing again. This is a lot of cash to throw at somebody who's going to be holding a clipboard for four years. If doctors feel good about Manning playing out his contract, why not looks somewhere else in the 1st round and look at a QB at the start of the 2nd round where guys like, Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M), Kirk Cousins (Michigan St.), Nick Foles (Arizona) and Kellen Moore (Bosie St.) should be available.
2. WR - Reggie Wayne will be a free agent after this year, and he'll be asking for a lot of $$$. Will the Colts resign him or let him walk? Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma St.) and Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) figure to go in the top 5 of the draft. Could one of them be Reggie's replacement? What if the Colts resign Reggie and replace Pierre Garson with Blackmon or Jeffery?
3. DE - Like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis will also be a free agent after this year, and command a lot of $$$. The Colts could be staring right at Mathis' replacement, in Quinton Coples (North Carolina). Coples, who fits the profile of a Colts DE, figures to go in the top 5 of the draft, and be the first defensive player taken in the draft.
4. OL - The Colts offensive line has been below average (trying to be nice here) since they won the Super Bowl. While they used their 1st and 2nd round picks last year (Anthony Castanzo and Ben Ijalana) to upgrade the line, they'll have the opportunity to upgrade it again in the 2012 draft. Two offensive tackles, Matt Kalil (USC) and Jonathan Martin (Stanford) should be top 10 picks.
I'm sure those options will change by the time April comes around, but one thing's for certain, the Colts will have the opportunity to pick an immediate impact player (and possible franchise player) at the top of the 2012 NFL draft.