A look at some of the Colts' top picks and performers through the years at linebacker
Barry Krauss vividly remembers the day he was drafted in 1979. He recalls the sleeplessness and uncertainty and later the exhilaration of finding out he would be the Colts' top pick.
The former inside linebacker, who went on to become one of Indianapolis' most consistent and popular players, also remembers the NFL Draft in 1979 as being dramatically different from what the selection process is today.
"I want to compare it to what we have now, but that's hard because we didn't have that big ESPN day," said Krauss, a University of Alabama star whom the Colts selected with the sixth pick in the first round.
There was no ESPN yet in 1979. No all-day, all-rounds television coverage of the draft. There was no way for even high-profile draftees to stay in constant contact with the day's moves and developments.
At about 7 a.m. on draft day, Krauss received a phone call from Ted Marchibroda, the Colts' coach then. Marchibroda asked Krauss if he wanted to play for the team.
"I said, 'Yes, sir. I'd be honored.' That's how I heard the team was picking me," Krauss recalled.
"Next thing I knew, I got a call that (Colts owner) Bob Irsay was sending his jet down to Tuscaloosa (Ala.) to pick me up. It was just such an exciting day."
It marked the beginning of a productive 11-year NFL career for Krauss. He played in 136 games for the Colts, enjoying his finest seasons in 1984 and 1985 when he made 175 tackles each year. He intercepted six passes in his career.
Krauss had the right preparation and credentials for success in the NFL. He played for Bear Bryant at Alabama, earning All-America honors. He was named Sugar Bowl MVP in 1979, when he helped the Crimson Tide beat Penn State and win the national title. His fourth-down, goal-line tackle on Matt Suhey preserved the Sugar Bowl victory.
Then, as a pro, Krauss made the most of his move to Indianapolis.
"Indianapolis brought out the best in me," said the native of Pompano Beach, Fla. "I just felt really good, really excited to be there."
And Krauss became known for his work off the field as well as on it.
At the team's first training camp in Anderson, Ind., the linebacker befriended a youngster named Danny Hulse, who was suffering from cancer. Krauss made sure Danny received a No. 1 jersey, declaring him the Colts' top fan. Krauss also gave the youngster a "55" jersey, which was the linebacker's number.
When Danny died at age 12, he was buried with Krauss' jersey.
"Being part of his life was special," said Krauss, who still gets emotional when remembering the youngster. "He was part of our team. He was special to all of us."
NOTABLE COLTS LINEBACKERS AT A GLANCE
Here's a look at some of the team's top linebackers, listed chronologically:
Johnie Cooks, 1982 first-rounder: The Mississippi State standout was picked No. 2 overall and played seven seasons for the Colts. In 1984, the team moved him to outside linebacker from inside and Cooks responded with 11.5 sacks, including 10 in the final six games.
Cliff Odom, 1982 waiver acquisition: Odom landed with the Colts after being released by the Raiders. He played eight seasons and 112 games for the Colts, starting most of those next to Barry Krauss at the inside positions. "We used to call Cliff the lunch-pail guy; he was such a hard worker," Krauss said. "He didn't talk much, but he always knew his plays. He was an incredibly underrated player and a class act."
Duane Bickett, 1985 first-rounder: The Colts picked the USC outside linebacker at No. 5 overall. He went on to make the Pro Bowl in 1987 after collecting eight sacks in 12 games. In nine seasons in Indianapolis, Bickett made 50 sacks and more than 1,000 tackles.
Jeff Herrod, 1988 ninth-rounder: An inside linebacker from Mississippi, Herrod proved to be a solid contributor in Indianapolis, making 1,037 stops, 14.5 sacks and five interceptions in 10 seasons.
Quentin Coryatt, 1992 first-rounder: The Texas A&M linebacker played six seasons in Indianapolis after being selected with the No. 2 overall pick. Playing both inside and outside, he totaled 8.5 sacks, three interceptions and six forced fumbles.
Mike Peterson, 1999 second-rounder: The Florida outside linebacker played four seasons for the Colts, totaling 326 tackles, including 104 in both the 2002 and 2004 seasons. His big-play ability led to seven interceptions for the Colts.
Rob Morris, 2000 first-rounder: The inside linebacker from BYU played eight seasons, making 358 tackles and seven sacks. He was a defensive force during the 2006 season when the club won Super Bowl XLI.
David Thornton, 2002 fourth-rounder: The North Carolina outside linebacker moved into the Colts' starting lineup by his second season and quickly became a play-maker, totaling 244 stops over the next three years.
Gary Brackett, 2003 free agent: The Colts' standout inside linebacker, 5-11 and 235 pounds, wasn't drafted coming out of Rutgers. In eight seasons in Indianapolis, he has amassed 748 tackles and five forced fumbles. "I think he's an inspiration to anyone," Krauss said. "There seemed to be a stereotype that you had to be 6-3 and 240 or 250 pounds to play linebacker in the NFL. Then, guess what, (Colts president) Bill Polian found Gary Bracket and he's a big play-maker."
Clint Session, 2007 fourth-rounder: Session's best year was 2009, when he made 104 tackles and intercepted two passes. From the University of Pittsburgh, he also enjoyed a strong year in 2008 with 99 stops and three forced fumbles.
Pat Angerer, 2010 second-rounder: The Iowa linebacker became an instant contributor as a rookie, playing 16 games and starting 11 while working at both the inside and outside positions. He totaled 75 tackles during the 2010 regular season and added five more in the Colts' playoff game against the Jets.