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Bob Kravitz gets it... sort of

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Periodically, you'll see me do a rant or two on the idiocy of Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz. I don't have anything against his writing style. I just think he's incompetent when it comes to discussing sports in general, not just football. However, today, I'll give him some credit for getting this right: the Colts never tip their hand when it comes to the draft.

As for the "word on the street,'' the source of which is Bill Polian's secretary's pet groomer's fourth uncle, all signs point to the Colts using that first-rounder to replace the dearly departed Edgerrin James.

Which is why they won't.

If there's one thing we know about Polian, it's that when it comes to the draft, we don't know.

The truth is, nobody knows. This team has better control against leaks than an industrial-sized pair of Depends. If the Bush administration could control the flow of information like the Colts do, Scooter Libby would be an untroubled man.
Stampede Blue has said from day one that if you think Polian will draft a runningback, he'll turn right around and take a defensive player. Because every mock draft in the universe has Indy taking someone like Maroney, Addai, Williams, or White it almost convinces me Polian will not take any of them... and I don't like that. However, despite my feelings, it's hard to argue with the results of the Polian Method.
Now, it's hard to argue that there isn't a method to Polian's madness because this team was built, and has been maintained, almost exclusively through the draft. He has hit on the big picks -- see: Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James. And he has found contributors in the middle and lower rounds -- see: Cato June, a sixth-rounder who played safety, not linebacker, in college. He's even found people outside of the draft. Middle linebacker Gary Brackett was an undrafted free agent.

The Colts, unlike a lot of their competitors, put more emphasis on what they see on college football Saturdays than what they see at a Senior Bowl or a workout. Either you can play football or you can't.

The result has been one of the most consistently successful franchises in sports the past eight years, although the hole in the resume -- no Super Bowl -- remains a glaring one.
Kravitz gets it right regarding how the Colts evaluate college talent. During the regular season, while Dungy coaches, Peyton throws, and Dwight Freeney eats the heads off opposing QBs, Polian and his scouting team go to college games and evaluate players. They don't just go to Senior Bowls and individual workouts when the season is over, where players are hamming it up to impress people. Scouting is a year round process in Indy. The Colts watch college players in actual games during the college season, evaluating them for next year or even the year after that. They watch how players interact with teammates on the sidelines. They watch how they handle being coached. They watch how they make a mistake on the field, and how the bounce back from it.

All this factors into their evaluation. Polian scouted Minnesota RB Laurence Maroney personally at one game. That scouting trip will determine whether Indy will move up to take Maroney. If Polian saw something in Maroney that suggests he's a special player, the Colts will move up to get him.

I've said this many times before, and I'll say it again: Bill Polian is the best judge of talent in this NFL, period. While other GMs like New England's Scott Pioli or Atlanta's Rich McKay are on equal footing with Polian when it comes to running a team, no one can match Polian's ability to scout a player and evaluate whether or not that player is worth a damn.

Now, it's nice that Kravitz sees the obvious (that Polian and the Colts are really good on draft day), but like all Kravitz articles, there's always some line written in there that is just... well, dumb. Here's an example:

Remember, in 2001, the Colts desperately needed defense. Polian chose Miami wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Turned out he was pretty good.

Then, two years later, the Colts again needed defense, and Polian used the first round for yet another tight end, this time taking Iowa's Dallas Clark. His career? Jury's still out. This is his make-or-break year.
Um, huh? Dallas Clark is one of the better tight ends in football, period. Does he have the pass catching numbers of Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, or even Dallas's Jason Witten? No. Is he on their level? Yes, absolutely. And if you've watched any games, and know anything about football talent, you'd know that.

Gonzalez and Gates are great tight ends, but they get a lot of balls thrown at them because their teams have no legit wide receivers. Gates was the #1 receiver for San Diego last year. #2 was Keenan McCardell, who was drafted back in 1907. For Kansas City, the #2 receiver behind Tony Gonzalez last year was Eddie Kennison. Need I say more?

Witten caught a lot of balls for Dallas last year because Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn stunk. Expect to see his numbers go down now that The Human Turd is wearing #81 in Big D.

Clark is a unique player with the ability to lineup in the slot and be a mismatch for most cornerbacks! Forget putting a linebacker or a safety on him. You might as well have my cousin's four-year-old son try and run with him. Clark has the ability to take any pass thrown at him to the house. You saw the Pittsburgh playoff game, right? You saw his 50 yard TD? That's what Clark does for Indy's offense. If Peyton didn't have players like Harrison, Wayne, or even Stokley to throw to, he'd throw to Clark every down. And if Wayne or Harrison played for KC, San Diego, or even Dallas the tight ends there would see significantly fewer balls thrown to them.

Again, this is the type of knowledge I expect sports columnists to have. Kravitz just looks at numbers and determines Clark's career is "make or break" this year. If he ever bothered to watch the friggin games, he'd have a more informed opinion.