A Deep Draft Class Coming to 2008 NFL Combine, Polian Says
INDIANAPOLIS - When Colts President Bill Polian looks at the 2008 NFL Draft, in one sense, he very much likes what he sees.
A lot of juniors entered the draft this year.
That means more good players will be available longer than in many previous years.
"That indicates there will be some pretty good depth there," Polian said recently as he and the Colts' scouts, personnel officials and coaches prepared to attend the NFL Scouting Combine, which will be held Thursday through Sunday at the RCA Dome in downtown Indianapolis.
"I think you can fairly say there has not been this kind of depth in a while."
That's a positive for the Colts, Polian said, because the Colts do not hold a first-round selection in the NFL Draft, which will be held April 26-27.
The Colts traded their first-round selection to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, a selection that became offensive tackle Tony Ugoh.
None of which will change how the Colts' view the draft, Polian said, nor will it change how they approach the combine.
The Colts, who overwhelmingly have been a home-grown team under Polian and Head Coach Tony Dungy, will continue to emphasize building through the draft, Polian said.
Much of the scouting process has been done throughout the course of the season, Polian said. He said the staff will have seen most prospects up to six times either during the season, at a bowl game and during the All-Star game period.
Therefore, he said the combine holds the same imance it has held in previous years – i.e, predominantly as a means to gather medical data on the top prospects.
"By the time you reach the combine, you have a pretty good feel for what players are as football players," Polian said. "You may even have a feel for what he is as a person. What you do not have is the medical information and the measurables in a verified form. That's what the combine gives you.
"You get the medical history. You get the present medical condition. You get significant information and you get measurables in height, weight and speed. That is really the last piece in putting together the information that makes up the portrait of the player."
"Once that information is place, you can evaluate with all of the data in hand."
And Polian said while there is no such thing on draft day as a "can't miss'' player, and while the Colts emphasize production in the process, he said the importance of "measurable" data in selecting players is impossible to overestimate.
"In the end, if you look at 20 years of draft data, the measurables overwhelmingly are correct," he said.
The Colts have been one of the NFL's most successful drafting teams during Polian's 10 previous seasons with the team. None of the Colts' 22 starters in the team's playoff game against San Diego this past season ever had played for another team, and 19 were acquired by the Colts either through the draft or as collegiate free agents.
Five of the six Colts players who made the Pro Bowl this past season – quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, safety Bob Sanders, safety Antoine Bethea and running back Joseph Addai – were drafted by the team. Two other Pro Bowl players from previous seasons – defensive end Dwight Freeney (2003-2005) and wide receiver Marvin Harrison (1999-2006) – were first-round selections, as were Manning, Wayne and Addai.
"Clearly, we're a home-grown team," Polian said. "That has been our emphasis. I don't think that's going to change much.
"Tony and I clearly have a preference for our own players. It's a clear feeling we have."
WORKSHOPPING: Several Colts players will take part in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, the league announced this week.
Defensive end Jeff Charleston will attend a workshop at the Stanford School of Business, while defensive end Raheem Brock, offensive guard Ryan Lilja, offensive guard Jake Scott and defensive back Antonio Smith will attend a workshop at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The program is part of an ongoing NFL-NFLPA initiative to assist players preparing for post-playing careers. Four schools will offer executive education activities in their respective areas of expertise. The Wharton School and Harvard Business School will hold programs for players from February 24-27 and continue the coursework with an additional session in late March and early April.
The Stanford Graduate School of Business and Kellogg School of Management will run three-day sessions from March 2-5. Player enrollment criteria include level of education; professional business experience; interest in starting, owning, or managing a business; and leadership and community involvement.