All 13 Free Agent Rookies Have Opunity to Make Team, Polian Says
INDIANAPOLIS - When it comes to the 13 players the Colts added to their roster on Tuesday, the distant and recent past means nothing to Bill Polian.
What matters is the future.
The Colts on Tuesday afternoon announced that 13 rookies had agreed to contracts with the team, and while the players were bypassed in this past weekend's 2008 NFL Draft, Polian – now in his 11th season as the Colts' President – said that matters not a bit.
The players will get a chance to make the team.
And they'll get an equal chance to the nine players selected this past weekend.
"They will be judged the same way," Polian said late Tuesday afternoon. "The best 53 guys will make the team. It doesn't matter where you've been drafted, what school you went to, how much money your parents have, who your agent is, how many trees were killed writing about you in the pre-draft analysis – it's all about what you do in this building, in the classroom, on the field and off the field to measure up to the standards that the Colts have."
Polian said the Colts began calling free agents shortly after the draft Sunday, which was the start of a two-day process critical to completing the team's roster.
"You just don't have enough picks down there," Polian said of the late rounds of the draft. "There are plenty of fellows you feel you want on your squad, that you feel very good about, but when you get down to the sixth or seventh round, you only have so many picks.
"In some cases, in those later rounds, you have issues of squad makeup that you have to deal with. So, you end up trying to sign guys as free agents you really might have preferred to draft all things being equal."
In years past, players such as middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett, defensive end Josh Thomas and running back Dominic Rhodes have made the Colts after being signed as free agents immediately following the draft. Defensive end Ramon Guzman and safety Melvin Bullitt made the team after being signed during that timeframe last offseason and were on the roster throughout last season.
"Every one of them has the capability under the right set of circumstances to make the club," Polian said.
A look at the Colts' 13 rookie free agents:
• Adam Tafralis (6-feet-1, 221 pounds), quarterback, San Jose State. A four-year letterman, Tafralis started three seasons, completing 603 of 1,027 passes for 7,548 yards and 52 touchdowns with 29 interceptions. He also rushed for 563 yards and nine touchdowns on 247 carries. Starting 12 games as a senior, he completed 251 of 400 passes for 3,022 yards and 18 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. "He's a tough kid," Polian said. "He's extremely competitive. He's a good runner. He even has played some special teams in his career. He was an H-back at one point. He's a guy with the right pedigree in terms of really liking football and being a position he'll do anything to play the game. Those are the kinds of people we like."
• Brandon Foster (5-8, 185), defensive back, Texas. He started 13 of 46 games for the Longhorns, finishing his career with 106 tackles, five for losses, along with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. A second-team Associated Press All-Big 12 selection, he also had four defensive touchdowns, which tied for the second-highest total in school history.
• Chad Simpson (5-9, 216), running back, Morgan State. A four-year player who played two years at South Florida before transferring to Morgan State, he played 35 career games at the two schools. He rushed for 2,283 yards and 23 touchdowns on 440 carries in college career. rushing for 2,197 yards and 23 touchdowns on 423 carries in two seasons at Morgan State. He rushed for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns on 276 carries as a senior, setting the school's all-time single-season rushing record. He was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a senior. "Speed and production," Polian said when asked what caught his eye about Morgan. "He has great speed – 4.44 (seconds) in the 40-yard dash. He had numerous long runs and long returns in his career. He is a candidate as a running back and as a return guy, particularly kickoff returns."
• Charles Dillon (6-0, 193), wide receiver, Washington State. He played two seasons at Washington State after two seasons at Ventura College. In 24 games at Washington State, he caught 52 passes for 526 yards and four touchdowns, returning 31 kickoffs for a 21.0-yard average. He also returned punts.
• Colin Ferrell (6-0, 301), defensive tackle, Kent State. A two-year fulltime starter, he started 34 of 46 career games at defensive tackle, finishing his career with 171 tackles, 87 solo, and 45.5 tackles for losses. He also had 10.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.
• Curtis Johnson (6-3, 237), defensive end, Clark College. A two-year letterman, he started 21 career games at Clark, totaling 187 tackles, 119 solo. He started 11 games as a senior, finishing the season with 112 tackles, 69 solos. He was a 2007 Daktronics All-America as a senior, leading all Division II players with 2.5 tackles for loss per game. "He's a rush end with a lot of ability to get up the field and get after the passer," Polian said. "We'll give him every opportunity to do so."
• Dan Davis (6-1, 275), defensive tackle, Connecticut. A starter in 35 of 42 career games, he spent his first three collegiate seasons at defensive end before playing tackle as a senior. He finished with 116 career tackles, including 21 for losses with 7.5 sacks. Starting 13 games as a senior, he was the team's co-Most Valuable Player and had 36 tackles, including three for losses, with one sack and a pass defensed.
• Darren Marquez (6-5, 315), offensive tackle, Southern Illinois. A three-year letterman, he started 39 games at left tackle and was selected All-Gateway Conference first-team as a senior. He helped Southern Illinois total 2,705 yards rushing and 3,187 yards passing as a senior.
• Eric Foster (6-2, 265), defensive tackle, Rutgers. A two-year starter and team captain, he was the first Rutgers player in three decades to be named All-American in two consecutive seasons. He played in 40 career games, finishing with 145 tackles, 33.5 for losses, and also had six passes defensed, two forced fumbles, 15 sacks and an interception. As a senior, he had 64 tackles, 23 solo, with 15 tackles for losses, seven sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
• Jamie Silva (5-11, 204 pounds), defensive back, Boston College. A four-year letterman, he started 29 of 50 career games, finishing with 312 tackles, 200 solos, with 15 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, seven passes defensed and 14 interceptions. He started seven of 14 games at free safety as a senior, finishing with 125 tackles, 82 solo, four tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks, two FF, one FR, three passes defensed and eight interceptions. He was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection as a senior. Polian said speed prevented Silva from being selected in this past weekend's draft. "When you see him, you don't see that speed deficiency in his play," Polian said. "He'll have the opportunity to show us here that he can make up for that. I've seen him play all the way back to his high school days, and he's a lot like (former Colts safety) Chad Cota, who had similar speed and was a guy who had a nice career in the National Football League. He's a good athlete and speed is the only discrepancy."
• Jordan Senn (5-11, 224 pounds), linebacker, Portland State. A four-year letterman, he started 34 of 43 career games. He finished his senior season with 127 tackles, 54 solos, and ranked 10th in the nation in tackles.
• Rudy Burgess (5-10, 186 pounds), wide receiver, Arizona State. A four-year player, he started 25 of 45 career games at wide receiver,