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2011 NFL Draft: Colts Still Liking The DTs Despite History

It's only early March and already we've seen a plethora of mock drafts for the 2011 NFL Draft (oh, and if for some reason you don't know what the word plethora is, I suggest watching this).

With literally every single mock I've seen, every single one, the person drafting for the Colts has them taking a left tackle or a defensive tackle in the first round. Now, this is interesting because in Bill Polian's twelve-plus years as Colts president-vice chairman, he has never taken a LT or a DT in the first round.


In fact, it's been nearly twenty years since Bill Polian used a first round pick on a tackle of any kind. TWENTY YEARS! You have to go all the way back to 1992, when George Bush Jr.'s father was president, to see Bill Polian using a first rounder on a tackle. This was back when Bill was the GM of the Buffalo Bills. He used the team's 27th overall pick to snag John Fina, a left tackle from Arizona.

When Polian was fired from the Bills in 1993, he went to the Carolina Panthers and continued to pass up tackles in favor of skill position players.

In 1996, Polian passed up Auburn left tackle Willie Anderson in the first round for runningback Tim Biakabutuka out of Michigan. Anderson went to four Pro Bowls and was first team All-Pro for three seasons. For ten-plus years, Anderson was a stud, bookend tackle while Biakabutuka was a decent, semi-OK back-up RB known more for chronically getting injured than scoring touchdowns.

In 1997, he passed on defensive tackle Trevor Pryce to take (gasp!) wide receiver Rae Carruth. Pryce has consistently been one of the top DTs in football since, while Carruth is currently behind bars for killing his wife and unborn baby!

Now, while this all might be perceived as me taking shots as Bill Polian's somewhat over-rated draft record, it actually isn't. I'm simply pointing out that the man has an allergic reaction to drafting tackles. He will pass on good ones, VERY good ones, to take mediocre-to-bad skill position players because (and I'm just assuming this based on his record) Polian probably doesn't think linemen aren't worth first round picks.

Now, this is important because the knock on Polian, and a big reason he was fired from both Buffalo and Carolina, is he does not build teams that are 'tough' on the interior. The famed four-time AFC Champion Bills of the early-1990s were known as a 'soft' team. Every time they went up against a more physical NFC team (Cowboys twice, Redskins, and Giants), they were beaten... badly.

Carolina had the same knock as well during their very short-lived success under Polian.

In Indianapolis, the Colts have had to battle with the same stigma, and while it is flatly untrue to call the Colts 'soft,' there is no denying that a major reason why this franchise has been so putrid at stopping the run consistently is because the front office has simply not invested high draft picks in quality offensive linemen.

So, if Bill Polian does what just about everyone on the planet thinks he should do with the No. 22 pick in the first round, it will be a major break from his long-standing modus operandi when it comes to the first round of the NFL Draft. Personally, I hope he does break from his model. I've been critical of Polian for his recent draft record because, quite frankly, it's been bad in recent years. We don't know for sure if it's him or his son Chris that has been botching these picks since 2006, but the lack of talent from the top of the draft has hurt the Colts of late, and something must be done in order to inject new talent into this roster.