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Colts fans get more love from Buckeye Nation

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Antonio Smith
Photo: the-Ozone.net
First off, welcome to all you Patriots fans linked here by PatsFans.com. Apparently, someone on their message board didn't like my final thoughts on the Randy Moss trade, and linked to me. Since then, we've been flooded with Pats fans. Of course, all you guys are welcome to talk football. To comment, please make an account. It costs nothing, requires only a token email address, and I promise we will not spam you with useless crap to that address. I set it up this way so that I don't get spammers and trolls spewing crap all over the site, making the experience unpleasant.

Ok, onto the show. Our good friend Sean at Around the Oval is now a wild and crazy Colts fan. Why? Because Indy drafted three Buckeyes last Sunday and singed two more as free agents. We welcome Sean and all Buckeye fans to the Land of the Horse and Shoe. Like you, we hate all teams from Florida. Sean was kind enough to do a very thorough write-up of all the recent Buckeye additions to the Colts roster:

I wrote that more for Buckeye fans than for Colts fans, so it wasn't as useful to you as it could have been. Here's a breakdown that hopefully will be more useful to Colts fans:

Anthony Gonzalez - Gonzo may have been my favorite Buckeye last season. He was great on and off the field. He was quotable, he was smart (he talked about going into law school after graduation; no one believed him, but still), he was a class act. He slept in an altitude tent, which is a little-known way to achieve "favorite player" status. All in all, he's pretty close to the embodiment of the "student-athlete" ideal. And I think he's a perfect fit for the Colts. Two seasons ago, he did a great job in the slot while teams paid attention to Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn, and I think he'll do just as well in Indianapolis. He's got a knack for finding holes in zones and settling into them, and he's fantastic on third down. In just about every third down passing situation, someone from my group of friends would remark that it was time for a pass to Gonzo, and sure enough, Troy Smith would regularly find him just beyond the sticks to pick up the first down. I think he's everything you want in a third receiver, but lest you think he's no better than a third banana, I'd like to remind you that he can make the tough catch and the big play too.

Quinn Pitcock - I've said it before: I think the Colts got a bit of a steal in QP. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect him to turn into Warren Sapp or anything, but I think he was a second round talent. He's not a huge guy, but at 6'3" and 300 pounds, he's not exactly small. He was the key to the Buckeye defense last year, I think. Last season's linebackers weren't much better than average, especially against the run, but Pitcock's play helped make up for that. The linebackers weren't good at shedding blockers, but with Pitcock regularly drawing double teams, that wasn't as much an issue. Pitcock impressed me by playing two different roles in the last two seasons. Two years ago, with A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, and Anthony Schlegel playing behind him, QP basically had to occupy blockers and let them make plays. Last year, as the best player in the front seven (and, I'd argue, the entire defense), he became much more active. It seemed to me that he tried to get into the backfield and make more plays (though on the other hand, he may have just improved from the season before). In the 2005 season, he had one sack and three tackles for loss. In 2006, he had eight sacks and twelve tackles for loss. I think Pitcock has a good chance of becoming a solid starter on the Colts' line. He's a strong, smart guy and a hardworker, and while I'm not sure he has the raw talent to become a Pro Bowler, I think he should become a pretty good player, and a great value for a third round pick.

Roy Hall - Hall is kind of an interesting case. If you look at his size and workout numbers, you'd conclude that he's exactly what you want in a receiver. He never looked that impressive at Ohio State, however. He was never better than the third receiver, and he routinely lost minutes to younger players (Anthony Gonzalez in his junior year, Brian Robiskie in his senior year). A friend of mine suggests that OSU's offense, led by six-ish foot Troy Smith, didn't really play to Hall's strengths, which would presumably be playing over the middle, just behind the linebackers, and there may be some truth to that, but it's still a concern that the guy never really climbed the depth chart. However, it's hard to deny his potential. Hall wasn't bad at Ohio State, and a guy the size of a tight end running like a receiver would be a fearsome sight. Perhaps Hall just needs the motivation of playing for a paycheck to reach his potential. If so, he would turn out to be the steal of the draft.

Antonio Smith - Smith, a cornerback, was a free agent signing by the Colts. The guy came to Ohio State as a walk-on, earned a scholarship for his senior year, and started the entire season opposite all-Big Ten corner Malcolm Jenkins. Smith had a fine season, but I'd be surprised if he became more than a nickelback in the NFL. He wasn't great at anything for the Buckeyes, but then he wasn't bad at anything either. He was good enough in coverage that teams couldn't pick on him and ignore Jenkins, and he was a good enough tackler to finish the season second on the team in tackles (which might seem to contradict my claim that teams didn't pick on him, but you'll have to trust me). He picked up ten TFLs, suggesting that he's pretty good at reading and reacting to plays. He also had two sacks, so he's quick enough to get to the quarterback from the corner position. He's smart and he works hard (you'd have to, to be a mechanical engineering major and a football player), so he'd be a welcome addition to any team, I think, even if he just plays special teams.

Justin Zwick - Okay, so Zwick's not technically on the team; he's just headed to a Colts minicamp hoping to get a contract offer. But still, I'll throw in this one for free. Zwick came in to Ohio State with a lot of hype, and never quite lived up to it, something for which some Buckeye fans have never forgiven him. I don't think there's any way he could turn into a starter in the NFL, but he could be a solid backup. He has a decent arm and accuracy, and while he's not much of a threat to run, he does have some mobility. I think his biggest asset is his decision making. He pretty consistently made the smart, safe throw for the Buckeyes. Sometimes, that meant a four-yard pass on third and eight, but it was still better than an interception. I think that in the NFL, you'd want a backup to not make things worse when he came into the game, and Zwick can do that. I don't think I'd want him running the team if I needed a touchdown to save my life, but if I was protecting a lead and my starting quarterback went down, I wouldn't be terrified of blowing the game if Zwick took over.

There you go. Sure, I'm biased, and some of these guys won't turn out to be as good as I expect, but the Colts did a pretty good job when it came to drafting Buckeyes. Gonzalez and Pitcock were the two most NFL-ready Buckeyes in the draft, Hall could be a good one if he reaches his potential, and Smith and Zwick (if he gets offered a contract) could contribute as backups. Plus, they've picked up a few more fans with their strategy of drafting Buckeyes, and that's got to be a good thing for jersey sales.

We at Stampede Blue thank Sean at Around the Oval for this excellent write-up. Obviously, both Sean and I will keep tabs on these OSU players as the season begins and progresses.