2011 NFL Mock Draft: Indianapolis Colts

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Over the 4 months between the end of the season and the draft I'm tracking the picks predicted to Indy by the countless mock draft addicts. 

How does public opinion change over the months between a teams' season ending and that team going on the clock? Do the experts do any better than a dedicated fan? Will months of berating people for making picks I disagree with have an impact on their choices? Now we can start looking for changes.

Week 2's results: (taken 1/14)

Positions: 36 OTs, 8 DTs (5 1-tech, 3 3-tech), 1 G

Popular Players:
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College 9 picks
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi St. 9 
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado, 8
Stephen Paea, 1-tech DT, Oregon St. 5
Tyron Smith, OT, USC 5

Odd Ducks: (picked once each)
Rodney Hudson G, Florida State,  Corey Liuget, 3-tech DT, Illinois

Experts vs Fans: Only 5 of the 10 expert sites updated their mocks in the past week (possibly holding off until after the Jan 15 date for underclassmen to declare) and all 5 of the updated mocks made the same Colts pick as last week. The changes come on the fan side where OTs got even more popular as the Indy pick, especially Southern Cal junior Tyron Smith who wasn't projected to Indy in any of last weeks mocks, but was one of 5 players to appear more than 3 times this week.

Shake's impact: To my delight all 15 mocks posted at MtD this week projected either an offensive lineman or 1-tech DT Stephen Paea. The random sample of 20 fan mocks included 1 3-tech DT. The MtD mock authors also avoided Tyron Smith completely while 1/4th of the random fan mocks had Smith as Indy's pick. Tyron Smith is startlingly similar to OT Charles Brown out of USC last year who the Colts passed on twice. Both lightweight, 2 year starters at USC. Smith likely won't come into the draft injured like Brown, but one of Smith's years starting was at RT vs 2 years at LT for Brown.

Discussion: Popular opinion swung ever further towards an offensive tackle in the first round for Indy and Tyron Smith is the fad this week. Interior line was still largely ignored, but the single choice this week, Rodney Hudson is a very interesting player as far as the future of the Colts OL goes. A 4 year starter and 3 time 1st team All-ACC selection (2nd team as a true freshman) Hudson was a dominant lineman at the college level. Holding his draft stock down is his 6'2" 285lb frame, Hudson weighs in 40lbs lighter at the same height as the last interior lineman the Colts drafted, Jaques McClendon (counterpoint: the Colts starting OL has yet to see any significant bump in size). How the Colts feel about Hudson will be very telling for the future of the OL.

Shake's Pick: OT, Nate Solder, Colorado

Draft Tek sim this week leaves Sherrod out of reach and a tough choice between Nate Solder who is a bit raw, but clearly has LT skills and the clearly NFL ready Gabe Carimi who had enough trouble pass protecting on the edge to raise questions as to whether he can play LT well at the pro level or should settle in as a great RT or Guard. I went with the clear LT since Saffold's lesser edge issues scared them away from him last year.

In the next 4 rounds I loaded up the lines with Rodney Hudson, Clemson OT Chris Hairston, his teammate 1-tech DT Jarvis Jenkins and Pittsburgh DE Greg Romeus. Hudson was discussed above and Jenkins was my 4th round choice last week as well. Hairston is a big tackle, 1st team All-ACC selection, who held is own pass protecting at LT, but wasn't a mauler in the run game.  Solder, Hairston and Hudson could be the core of an excellent OL for years to come.
The Romeus pick is a flyer at a luxury position, but has massive upside. Had he come out last year Romeus was widely considered a 1st round pick and I preferred him to Jerry Hughes (which is praise to Romeus, not a knock on Hughes). He returned to school and played just two games due to back surgery and a torn ACL. It's a risk and not a need, but I'm happy to risk a 5th rounder on a chance at 1st round talent.


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