Consider Ugoh a First-Round Selection in 2008, Polian Says
INDIANAPOLIS – As Bill Polian sees it, the 2008 NFL Draft is a matter of perspective.
Polian, in his 11th season running the drafts as the Colts' President, said that while the team almost certainly will select very, very late on a day already beginning a few hours later than usual, he said that's not necessarily a bad thing.
No, Polian said, the Colts do not have a first-round selection Saturday.
But they do have offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, who they selected last April with a second-round selection exchanged with the San Francisco 49ers for today's first-round selection.
And to Polian that means today's draft actually began a year ago.
And he said it started very, very well.
"I was going to be flip and walk in here and say, 'Well, we've made our first draft choice and it's Tony Ugoh,''' Polian said Friday afternoon during his annual pre-draft press conference at the team's practice facility.
"I decided not to do that, but in effect, that's what it really is. Our first draft choice is Tony Ugoh and he already has proven he can play in the National Football League."
Because of the trade for Ugoh – who started 10 games at left tackle as a rookie last season – the Colts enter the draft without a first-round selection for the first time in Polian's tenure.
The only time under Polian the Colts did not select a player in the first round was 2004, when they traded out of the first round on draft before selecting safety Bob Sanders in the second round with the 44th overall selection.
The Colts' first selection in this year's draft is the 28th selection of the second round, the 59th overall selection. They have nine overall selections – one in Round 2 (No. 28, 59 overall), one in Round 3 (No. 30, 93 overall), one in Round 4 (No. 28, 127 overall), one in Round 5 (No. 26, 171 overall), four in Round 6 (Nos. 30, 35, 36 and 39; 196, 201, 202 and 205 overall) and one in Round 7 (No.29, 236 overall).
The team's last three sixth-round selections are compensatory selections.
The NFL Draft begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, with the first and second rounds scheduled to be held that day and Rounds 3-7 on Sunday. That's a change in format from previous years, when the draft began at noon on Saturday, with Rounds 1-3 held that day.
The time between selections on the first day also has been changed, with 10 minutes scheduled between first-round selections and seven minutes between second-round selections.
Previously, there had been 15 minutes between first-round selections and 10 minutes between second-round selections.
"The unknown this year is the fact that the third round becomes the first round of the second day," said Polian, who said Friday there are less than 150 players on the Colts' draft board. "There's always a reshuffling and I'm going to be very anxious to see what trends take place in that round, whether it remains as it was for the last 20-some odd years or whether it changes.
"The fourth round, there is a very definite change how people approach things and there has been since we've had this format. This will be a learning experience for everyone."
In years past, Polian typically has conducted at least one draft-day trade. Last year, it was the deal for Ugoh, but more often, he has traded down, as was the case with the selections before selecting Sanders in 2004.
On Friday, Polian said he didn't anticipate moving up into or toward the first round.
"We think that the position of our picks is such that it would be pretty pricey to move up," Polian said, adding, "You never known what happens."
Trading down, he said, is a possibility. "It depends on what's up there on the board and what's offered to us," he said. "A trade-back is a spur-of-the-moment decision."
Polian, who said the running-back position was strong this season with six players at the position possibly going in the first round, said he doubts the shorter time between selections will change how teams approach the first two rounds.
"It just means there is less bluffing with respect to trades," he said. "One thing I'm concerned about is whether you have enough time in the second round to get the guy on the phone, especially if you have a trade, but you just have to do it. That's all."
Polian, who earlier this off-season said he believed the draft was deep enough to get a quality player late in the second round, said on Friday that this year's draft is like any other – that there are players available throughout.
The trick, he said, is identifying them.
"The bottom line is you have find what you need no matter what," Polian said. "You can't manufacture players and we try very hard not to do that. We try very hard to fight that tendency, but you're always going to get good players from every draft. They're there. You just have to find them."
Polian cited a statistic he read recently, saying there are "40 players in every draft that play at an exceptionally high level, an All-Pro level."
"Only 20 are drafted in the first round," he said. "Where do the others come from? They're all throughout the draft. You just have to find them."
Also on Friday, Polian said the Colts have no interest in recently-released Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander or Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor. He said interest in recently-released New England Patriots Rosevelt Colvin would be a "secondary issue."
"It's an interesting name, because he's local," he said of Colvin, who played high school football in Indianapolis. "Once we get through the draft, then we'll take a look at that."
Polian also said while the Colts could take a wide receiver early, such a selection would not be because of wide receiver Marvin Harrison, a 13-year veteran who missed 11 games this past regular season with a knee injury.
"I don't know that another wide receiver who's not Marvin Harrison is going to make a whole heck of a lot of difference," Polian said. "There are wide receivers up there we like and if the opunity came to take them, we would, but not because of Marvin's situation."