Hart Similar to Former Colts Back Mungro, Polian Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Bill Polian sees little reason the Colts' most-high profile acquisition of the 2008 NFL Draft can't succeed.
The Colts in the sixth round on Sunday selected Mike Hart, the University of Michigan's all-time leading rusher and a player Polian – in his 11th season as the Colts' President – said slipped on many team's draft boards because of a 40-yard dash time slow by NFL standards.
But Polian said Hart should succeed in the NFL because of a reason familiar to Colts fans.
Hart, Polian said, is comparable in many ways to Mungro, a player well-respected within the Colts' organization and one who played four seasons – 2002-2005 – with the team before sustaining a knee injury.
Hart ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, and while Polian said it hurt him in the draft, he said it didn't hurt him in the eyes of the Colts.
"We had success with James Mungro with that 40 time," Polian said. "Why wouldn't you have success with Mike Hart?"
Hart rushed for 5,040 yards and 41 touchdowns on 1,015 carries in his collegiate career, averaging more than 117 yards per game rushing in college. A four-year starter, he was the third true freshman to lead the Big 10 in rushing, gaining 1,455 yards with nine touchdowns on 282 carries in 2004.
He started eight games in 2005, rushing for 662 yards and four touchdowns on 150 carries despite missing several games with ankle and hamstring injuries. He then rushed for a career-high 1,562 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior and 1,361 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior.
"With pun intended, this was a 'Hart' pick by everyone in our (draft) room," Polian said. "Every time we went to see Michigan play, we said, 'Boy, Mike Hart is really something. We'd like to have him on our football team. Virtually everyone who ever saw him play felt that way. . .
"We're really thrilled to have Mike. This was a popular pick in our draft room."
Polian said Hart also can be a factor on third downs and in passing situations. "He has good hands," Polian said. "He can catch and run after the catch. He'll be fine there."
Polian also said Hart, like Mungro, has intangibles, attributes and experience needed to be successful in the NFL.
"Really, when you stop and think about it, if you think about how James Mungro played for us: hard-nosed, blocker, receiver, even played some as a blocker on the goal line . . . bang-it-in-there-runner with enough 'make-you-miss . . . I would say Mike probably has more 'shake' than James did . . .
"A gritty, move-the-chains, show-up-every-day, do-your job guy – that's Mike Hart."