clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mike Tanier wants the Colts to draft Javier Arenas

New, comments

Punt and kick returns do not win your Super Bowls. The Steelers had THE worst punt and kick return game in the NFL in 2008, and they still won shiny rings. However, it would not hurt to upgrade the kick and punt returning. Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders has some thoughts on this subject relating to the Colts:

The Colts can live with weak return units because their offense is incredible. But imagine if they took back a few precious yards of field position. The average Colts drive in 2009 started on the 27.0-yard line, the third-worst field position in the league. (The Raiders and Titans wore worse). The league median is 29.5, two-and-a-half yards away. Give Peyton Manning 2.5 more yards, and short field goals become touchdowns, while punts from midfield become field goals.

In other words, if the Colts can keep everything else equal while quickly upgrading their return game, they will return to the Super Bowl next year, and probably win it.

That's where Javier Arenas comes in.

Arenas is a 5'9 cornerback from Alabama. Nick Saban has strong ties to Bill Polian, and Polian seems to LOVE drafting smaller corners. Mocking Dan profiles Javier:

The diminutive Arenas earns this high of a ranking thanks largely to his special teams play and tackling ability. His hands are only average and he has just one career interception.

OK, it seems Javier would only be drafted for special teams duty, kind of like T.J. Rushing a few years ago. But what makes him so special that he's worth drafting? I mean, it's not like the colts are great a return blocking. Back to Tanier:

Arenas could face the same problems in Indianapolis that Rushing has dealt with: none of the blockers are very good, largely because the Colts salary structure is top-heavy and they cannot afford veteran special teams specialists. Their punt return unit features Kelvin Hayden and Tim Jennings blocking on the wings, with Mike Hart, Jamie Silver, Ramon Humbar and Aaron Francisco responsible for most of the interior blocking. I scouted the blockers during the playoffs and determined that Hayden is terrible, Hart is pretty good, and none of the rest are making an impact. The overall return unit won't change drastically in the offseason. A Colts punt returner must be able to make things happen on his own.

That's what Arenas can do. Rapoport noted that the blocking at Alabama wasn't very good. Arenas is powerfully built and often bounces off the first tackler, assuming he doesn't avoid him. "He can side-step, dodge the first guy, and be at full speed in about two steps."

Hmm, interesting, and worth keeping an eye on as more extensive mock drafts start coming in between now and late-April.