2008 record: 12-4, wildcard playoff berth
Needs: RB, DT, LB, WR
2009 key draft picks:
Rd 1 - RB Donald Brown
Rd 2 - DT Fili Moala
Rd 3 - CB Jerraud Powers
Rd 4 - WR Austin Collie, DT Terrance Taylor
As long as Bill Polian is making the decisions you can expect the Colts to have solid, if not great, drafts. After all, he' was the man who was certain that Peyton Manning would be better than Ryan Leaf and Edgerrin James would be more valuable than Ricky Williams. He drafted Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney and Bob Sanders, just to name a few more stars.
Polian's 2009 draft looks to be another good one. At least on paper, which is about all we can judge the draft by at this time. We'll have a much better idea in four or five years.
Joseph Addai's 2008 season was the least productive of his career and his former running mate, Dominic Rhodes, is now a Buffalo Bill. Indianapolis needs a good ground game for Manning's play-action fakes to work and he can't do that with Addai nursing another injury. Addai had only one carry against the Titans last year. The Colts have to run the ball well to beat Tennessee and they addressed that in the first round of the draft.
The selection of Donald Brown should take some of the load off Addai and make Manning more effective at the same time. If Brown can produce as expected, Polian will look like a pretty smart man once again.
Another thing Indianapolis has to do to beat Tennessee is to keep the Titans from pounding the ball against them. The small, quick defensive tackles haven't done a good job at that so the Colts decided to get bigger and stronger with two 300-plus pound DTs. That in itself shouldn't hold the Titans' ground game in check right away but the change in philosophy does have implications for the future.
Collie is a Brandon Stokley-type prospect as a slot receiver and another weapon in Manning's arsenal. As if he needed another one.
One need that wasn't addressed was help at linebacker, possibly because Polian believed it was a weak class at that position.
Overall, the Colts drafted pretty well as it pertains to their modus operandi. The effects of the change of philosophy at DT remain to be seen. Other than that, the Colts should be pretty much the same team as last year if Brown performs as expected.
The Houston Texans will be next in the series on the drafts of AFC South opponents, followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars.