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Grading The Colts In The 2011 NFL Draft

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Draft grades, in general, are dumb. They're justified in writing up because, for some reason, people want validation for their team's picks. Right now, hundreds of thousands of people are searching for the terms 'NFL Draft Grades' on Google. Thus, the word comes down from SB Nation to make posts that highlight draft grades, and it's met by all us writers with groans because, as we all know, NFL Draft grades are dumb.

For the Colts, we've already done our grades of each pick. Reader DFree also did his grades (nice job, btw). Now, we have everyone else providing their input on the Colts 2011 NFL Draft.

Mocking The Draft, SB Nation's NFL Draft blog, lists the Colts as a 'winner' in the 2011 NFL Draft:

If there is one team that showed they want to win right now, it's the Indianapolis Colts. The team found the two offensive linemen it needs in Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana and a scheme perfect defensive tackle in Drake Nevis. Delone Carter should get a lot of carries at running back if his health holds up.

Mel Kiper, Jr.:

The Colts started springing leaks on the offensive line in 2010, as Peyton Manning faced more pressure and the running game all but stalled. Bill Polian clearly had his priorities in order, adding immediate help on his offensive line with his first two picks. Castonzo isn't seen as a really high-ceiling tackle, but he's a very good one, always healthy and with good feet, making him a potential long term solution on the blindside. Ijalana can convert to guard and be effective. Indy also needed help on the defensive interior and got a pretty good value fir with Nevis in the third round. Rucker can be a pretty good player when he's focused on football. He has a chance to outplay that spot on the board.

Overall: B+

Walter Football:

22. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
This is a perfect pick for the Colts. They need to protect Peyton Manning's blind side, and Anthony Castonzo was projected to be drafted somewhere in the teens. Bill Polian strikes gold again. (Pick Grade: A)

49. Ben Ijalana, G/OT, Villanova
Another awesome selection. The Colts really needed to improve Peyton Manning's protection, and Bill Polian is making sure his quarterback actually has some time in the pocket for a change. Ben Ijalana could have gone at the bottom of the first round. (Pick Grade: A)

87. Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
I don't think anyone is surprised that the Colts are upgrading the defensive tackle position. Drake Nevis was considered a Round 3-4 prospect by most, so he definitely fits the range. Nevis is probably the last of the Day 2 defensive tackle prospects, so I can't blame Bill Polian for pulling the trigger. (Pick Grade: B)

119. Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse
Joseph Addai is a possible free agent and Donald Brown has been a disappointment, so you can understand this pick. This is the right range for Delone Carter. Decent pick. (Pick Grade: B)

188. Chris L. Rucker, CB/S, Michigan State
The Colts were expected to draft a defensive back on Day 3, so this pick makes sense. Chris L. Rucker was projected to go in Round 6. (Pick Grade: B)

So, overall, everyone else seems to feel the same way we do about this draft. However, in the end, how we feel now only translates into the overall confidence the fanbase will have in the team IF we have football in 2011. I remember feeling very good about the 2007 NFL Draft class, and that group of players was the biggest collection of busts Bill Polian ever selected while working in Indy.

So, the point is we just don't know. We can only gauge by what we feel in our gut about where this team is going. Last year, the sentiments uttered from the brass at West 56th Street were either angry, necessary indictments of fans and players, or excuse-making in an effort to cover up obvious mistakes. This year, we're hearing things like this [emphasis mine]:

In line with our focus of trying to strengthen both fronts, we traded up in the second round to get Benjamin Ijalana, it's pronounced Ijalana, from Villanova university.

That quote is from Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian a short time after taking Ijalana, and it tells me that this team is finally serious about doing anything it can to upgrade obvious areas of weakness.

I give that kind of effort an 'A.'