This week, the NFL released the complete draft order and awarded compensatory picks — additional draft selections awarded to teams who lost more free agents this offseason than they gained the previous year. For the first time in a long time, the Colts will have an opportunity to pick up some of the best young football players in the nation when the draft takes place in New York City during the last week of April. With the big event less than a month away, the Colts should be feeling pretty “Luck-y.”
Last year, the Colts, coming off their ninth straight playoff appearance, made five selections in the draft and used their first round selection on offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo with the 22nd over all pick. This year, however, the Colts will have double that amount of selections: ten, including the first overall pick.
The Colts received three compensatory picks this year after losing Clint Session and Charlie Johnson to free agency. Session, a linebacker, is now with division rival Jacksonville, while Johnson, a tackle, left to join the Minnesota Vikings. The Colts were awarded no compensatory draft picks last year.
Interestingly, the Colts will both begin and conclude the draft, because they have also been awarded the 253rd over all and final pick, also known as Mr. Irrelevant. Don’t let the title fool you; there have been several Mr. Irrelevants to make it big in the NFL. In fact, Ryan Succop, the Mr. Irrelevant of 2009, started the very first game of his rookie season for the Kansas City Chiefs as a kicker. That year, he tied the NFL record for best kicking percentage by a rookie (86.2) and scored more points (104) than any other rookie in the league. In 2011, he signed a 5 year contract extension worth $14 million. Sound irrelevant to you? The Colts have a chance to acquire a valuable asset even with the very last selection.
The Colts will need to choose well and wisely in the draft, because immediate success is going to be expected from the team who cut their own franchise quarterback in Peyton Manning. Perhaps a reflection of Manning’s release, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported that the Colts season ticket renewal rate dropped to below 90% for the first time in more than 10 years. Now’s the time to buy if you are a loyal Colts fan, because I have a feeling that the team’s Luck is about to change very soon.
The Colts have scheduled a workout session with Andrew Luck, believed to be the Colts’ first overall selection in the draft, within the next couple of weeks. Although owner Jim Irsay voiced that the team has not yet decided whom to select with the first pick, the other possible first selection — Robert Griffin III — will not work out for the Colts at their facility, according to Ryan Grigson, the team’s new GM. Thus, the speculation continues, but the tea leaves seem to point in the direction of Luck.
A player definitely joining the Colts in 2012 is Donnie Avery, a wide receiver coming from the Tennessee Titans. Avery was a 2nd round draft choice in 2008. He’s a fast player who could make an impact for the team immediately – that is, if he is healthy. Avery had much success with the St. Louis Rams before suffering a knee injury and being released. He had a limited role with the Titans last year, but he’s hoping to regain his prior form.
Although new head coach Chuck Pagano has surely been busy making adjustments to his new team’s roster, he recently took time out of his busy schedule to support one of his former players in my own Miami backyard. Ed Reed, an All-Pro safety for the Baltimore Ravens, was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame Thursday night, and Pagano, Reed’s former defensive coordinator with the Ravens as well as his defensive backs coach when he played for the University of Miami, attended the banquet to support his longtime pupil. I’m proud to be a part of Pagano’s ‘Canes family as well as his Colts family. I wish I had been in attendance.
That’s it for #HorseBytes this week! Keep tuning in to see what other moves the Colts make in preparation for the 2012 Draft and, more importantly, the 2012 NFL season.