VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (opening statement) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"Today, at the end of a very long day, we ended up with two draft picks that we really think will help. Delone Carter from Syracuse, third-leading rusher in Syracuse history, a different style of back then we've had in some time here. He's much more of an inside, slam, bang, kind of runner then we are used to having. He brings, we think, a much needed skill set that we've been lacking. We took with our sixth-round pick, Chris Rucker, a corner from Michigan State. All these guys can run. That's the hallmark of our team. We don't take anybody that can't run, so they are all 4.5 (in the 40-yard dash) or below. Chris had some difficulty at Michigan State, a suspension that involved a fight on campus and then a subsequent probation violation for being in possession of alcohol. We looked into it thoroughly, both from the judicial side and from extensive conversations with (Head) Coach (Mark) Dantonio of Michigan State, who we respect greatly. All concerned gave us a green light on that. They didn't feel there was any issue there other than a bad choice as a collegiate student. We think we're in pretty good shape there with Chris. I think one thing that can be said of this draft, we got players who have extensive starting experience at the collegiate level, guys who one of their hallmarks is physical toughness and a lot of physicality in their play, which is a goal as we began the process. Chris (Polian) set that out as a goal."
VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (opening statement) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"We didn't have all four picks today, we had two of the four, but very happy with the two players we got and feel they'll make us a better and more well rounded team and bring some productivity and physical toughness to us. We'll be excited to get them here when that opportunity exists."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (on if RB-Delone Carter can help in short-yardage situations) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"He's one of those guys who has a low center of gravity. He has some bulk and power behind him. He's 225 pounds. He finishes his runs extremely well. I think it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that he could be one of those guys that helps us in that regard. He certainly is very, very durable, a very, very hard runner as well and does a great job of protecting the ball."
VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on the team checking into the transgressions that occurred with RB-Delone Carter and DB-Chris Rucker) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"Both guys we got a chance to research and get to know through the process. We got a chance to talk to them individually. We got a chance to talk to a lot of people around their programs. Obviously, and they'll be the first to tell you, they've made mistakes, but we feel going through the process they've learned from them, and we feel comfortable giving them a second chance here."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on the draft being part of the process of building the team) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"What we're missing in this process is the first three days followed by collegiate free agency, which has been awfully good to us over the years, and which we think we do a pretty good job in. That part is missing. We wouldn't be in here right now (meeting with the media) if this was a normal year. We'd be signing 12-15 collegiate free agents like WR-Blair White and DB-Melvin Bullitt and LB-Gary Brackett and so on. That will have to wait until whenever that time comes, but we are prepared and we've targeted people we feel can really help this football team. That's one piece of the puzzle that hasn't been put in place yet. I think as we sit here right now, in a very, very muddled situation, vis a vis football and roster building, I think we all feel really good about where we are. If we had to play right now with the roster that exists, assuming we could sign all these kids, we'd be in pretty good shape. I think we'd feel pretty good about going into this season. That does not include the players whose futures are clouded because of free agency. If we had to play without those guys today, we'd feel pretty good. Obviously, we'd feel a heck-of-a lot better if we had them. We've based the whole draft process on the idea we would not have them. That doesn't mean we don't want them back. We want them back very badly. If we didn't get them back, we'd feel pretty good about where we are."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on players on injured reserved last season) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"DB-Kevin Thomas is a draft pick. He's coming back. In reality, we had six picks in this draft, not seven. There will be plenty of other fellows who will be coming back, WR-Anthony Gonzalez, WR-Austin Collie, TE-Dallas Clark, who we had for only six games, that are going to make a big difference. We already know they will make a difference because they are terrific players. There are others like WR-Blair White and (DB-Justin) Tryon who stepped up and played. DB-Cornelius Brown stepped up and played very well down the stretch, to say nothing of LB-Kavell Conner, who was a low draft choice last year who stepped in and played. LB-Pat Angerer, who stepped in and played a position we didn't draft him to play. All of that bodes well. We're optimistic. If we get some of those restricted free agents back, that will be icing on the cake."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on roster building not being over despite the draft being over) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"It's not over because there is still collegiate free agency. It's on hold. It's on hiatus. That's what they say in Hollywood, right? That's where we are, unfortunately."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on if DB-Kevin Thomas can play safety) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"No, Kevin is not a safety. We would go in a different direction. He's purely a corner."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (on if any cornerbacks currently on the roster can play safety) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"We do have a couple of the young guys (that can). DB-Brandon King can play back there. DB-Mike Newton is another that has played some for us back there. That's the beautiful thing about it. We did go through a stretch of adversity, but the fact of the matter is when you have a very, very young squad that was able to step in and hold its own, coupled with some outstanding veterans, I think it bodes well, as Bill said, for this year coming up. We're moving along in the process. We'll see how it goes from here."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (continuing right after Coach Caldwell's last statement) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"DB-Al Afalava, we had high hopes for and unfortunately he succumbed to injury, like it seemed everybody in the secondary did, as we came down the stretch, but he's back. DB-Aaron Francisco is an unrestricted free agent, but obviously has done great work for us for the past two years. We'd think pretty strongly about bringing him back under the right set of circumstances. We're not bereft of people at the position as coach pointed out."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on when the 'hiatus' is over, they have to hit the ground running) Saturday, April 30, 2011
"Collegiate free agency, we're ready to go."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on when the right time comes along when the Colts look for Peyton Manning's successor) April 30, 2011
"I got a great answer for you but I'm going to follow it up. There is a song by Hall and Oates (England Dan & John Ford Coley) called, 'When the Right One Comes Along.' It's more of who (it is) rather than when it is."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (on how comfortable he feels with the offensive line after the draft) April 30, 2011
"When you look at it, we have been able to bolster it and improve it just in terms of (Anthony) Castonzo and (Ben) Ijalana as well. We feel really good about that, but we also have some young guys that played really well for us last year. (Jeff) Linkenbach stepped in and played well. We still have some veteran guys that will be back and certainly played well for us. I think we have put ourselves in pretty good position. Still, the proof is in the pudding. We still have to go to work. We have to practice. We have to get them ready. We have to teach. That is our challenge, but we feel really, really good about where we are at this point."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (on what he will do in the following weeks) April 30, 2011
"There is always something to do around here. There is never a void of things to prepare for. Nothing much is going to change for us in that regard. We also have to make contingency plans just in case, so that requires constant sort of massaging on a daily basis and, in some cases, every two days. I think we have enough to keep us busy. The other thing is we have really been dedicating ourselves to making sure we are a better staff just in terms of our coaching and teaching. We have been working hard in "clinic-ing" one another, going over our techniques and fundamentals. This has given us a bit more time to maybe even scrutinize it closer and trying to perfect some of the things we are doing and trying to solve some of our problems as well."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (on what he expects the players to be doing with the lockout back on) April 30, 2011
"We are not allowed to give them any instructions, but I can tell you what they were doing beforehand. I had the opportunity to visit with a few of them on Friday and certainly felt really good about their progress just in terms of what they have been able to do from a physical standpoint. They have been working together. It's a very cohesive group. We have a lot of guys that have been doing what we thought they'd do. They are smart people that are very, very dedicated and are intrinsically motivated so they have been working extremely hard together. Beyond that, we can't do a whole lot. We anticipate they are working; that's the kind of people they are."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on an optimal time frame when looking at Peyton Manning's successor) April 30, 2011
"I think there is a period of time where you can have a transition and apprenticeship, so to speak. It is clearly one year and I think you could go as far as three perhaps four (years) before a player, and I will borrow a phrase from Marv Levy, 'begins to rust.' I'm not setting out a time frame by which we have to acquire someone. You could do that by trade in a day. Somewhere between one and four (years) seems to be the right number for a guy to apprentice. Of course that coincides completely with free agency. So if you assume we come back with free agency at the same level that it is on now that would probably make some sense. But as I say, I hope that is a long time in the future."
VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on the plan heading into the draft regarding the offensive line) April 30, 2011
"We felt that in the process of discussing with our scouts in February, and we probably need to take a step back in thanking our scouts for all their tremendous work throughout the year because whatever we were able to accomplish this weekend would not have been possible without their thoroughness or their work. Our main scouting meeting occurs in February prior to the combine at which point Tom Telesco gives us a rundown on strengths and weakness of the draft and players that our scouts feel really strong about and the possibility of adding to the team. From there we kind of meld in roster management, fiscal management and the outlook of the team the next couple of years. One thing we did was go back and compare our rosters from the last couple of years to some of our past teams. One of the things we did feel was we needed to address the offensive line. Thankfully that worked very well with the board and we didn't have to reach for anybody. The stars kind of aligned for us in that regard. We felt the players we've added give us the ability to anchor the offensive line as we move forward. We've referred to it in discussions and maybe I mentioned it the other night, we have had a little bit too much musical chairs along the offensive line, week-to-week and even season-to-season sometimes. Hopefully, some of the additions along the offensive line will give us some stability short-term and if things work out great, than long-term. Hopefully, we have stabilized that and have given us a foundation moving forward. Tarik (Glenn) was with us a very long time, played at a very high level. Obviously Tony's (Ugoh) situation did not work out for us and Ryan (Diem) has been with us for a very long time and continues to play at a very high level. Jeff (Saturday) has been with us a very long time."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on why the Colts are so successful with their late round draft picks and undrafted free agents) April 30, 2011
"Well part of that is to some degree luck. Why are we bad in the third round? Hopefully, we have been better lately. Some of that is luck. But I think the one thing we do here, first of all we have been at it 14 years and that helps—continuity helps. Second of all we work really well with the coaching staff. The scouting staff, the coaching staff and the management work very well together so that when we bring a player here the coaching staff says, 'this guy can play,' and they gave him the benefit of the doubt going in. That doesn't happen in many places. Some places if a player is a second- or third-day draft choice, particularly a third-day draft choice, the coaches won't give him the time of day. Beyond that, Jim (Caldwell) has done a phenomenal job as did Tony (Dungy) in not doing early evaluations. Now, there are some like (Antoine) Bethea that everybody knows the story that jumps out at you on the first day. But generally speaking, Jim won't do a formal evaluation until we have been through at least two weeks of camp. So everybody gets an opportunity to show what they can do and especially what they can do with pads on, which, after all, is how the game is played. Then we give them a chance to play in the preseason. I know that is a two-headed coin. People say, 'The preseason games are not important, and they are not interesting and they are not our best product.' But they allow Melvin Bullitt to come to the fore, they allow Blair White to show you what he can do, they allow Dominic Rhodes to come on and make the team and become a contributor and darn near a Super Bowl MVP. That isn't insignificant. When you put all that together with the incorporation and the enthusiastic belief of the coaching staff you get a situation where an undrafted free agent can come here, walk in the locker room and say, 'I have as good of a chance to make this team as anybody who was drafted at any position.' That is why we are able to sign collegiate free agents. Agents know that. They know that they are going to have an opportunity to do that when they get here. They are going to get coached, and they are going to have an opportunity to show what they can do."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (on if coaches would have to speed up the evaluation process up because of the lockout) April 30, 2011
"Obviously that is a 'what-if' situation. So what we would have to do is to speed up the process a little bit. The most important thing for us when they first arrive, is to have our normal sort of progression that we typically have. We are most interested in making certain that we instruct, to educate so they have a real good thorough understanding of exactly what to expect. A matter of fact, a new guy will hear it five times before preseason, before he actually plays in his first preseason game. Now if something happens where that has to be cut a little short, the first portion is still mainly going to be instruction and education, but it maybe a little less time than we have had previously."
VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on whether or not he led the draft room this year) April 30, 2011
"We all do. It's hokey, but it's a collaborative process with Tom Telesco, myself, Jim (Caldwell) and, obviously, dad (Bill Polian). It is a very collaborative effort throughout the organization. You have trainers working on everything, doctors, equipment guys are getting to know people as they come in, the video guys are picking guys up at the airport. It's a pretty significant amount of work for everybody throughout the organization. We as the Colts have one draft and 16 games. It is not the scouting department has one draft and the coaches and players have 16 games. We as an organization have one draft. It is very important to the organization, and we all have 16 games that are very important to the organization. That gets back to as mentioned, working together. We work well with the coaches. They have faith in us, and we have faith in them. That is borne out of the good fortune of continuity and the good fortune of some success."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on whether or not the draft room was led by Chris or Bill this year) April 30, 2011
"The dynamic has changed, there is no two ways about that. Chris set the parameters. He did the study that gave us the road map of where we needed to go. We stayed with that. Nothing much has changed there (in the draft room) in the sense that it has always been a four-man consensus. When (Director of Football Operations) Dom (Anile) was here, it was Dom, Chris, Tony (Dungy) and I. Now that (Director of Player Personnel) Tom (Telesco) has stepped into that role, it's Tom, Jim (Caldwell) and Chris and I. Anyone of us can bring up a point or mention a priority. We don't make a choice that we don't all agree on. That even goes to setting the board. It's fair to say that the dynamic has changed pretty dramatically because Chris sets the parameters by which you set the board up, and that's the big thing."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on whether or not he walks out of the draft room thinking it was a good draft or a bad draft) April 30, 2011
"That's an interesting question. I wouldn't characterize it as either. First of all, we have always lived by the philosophy, 'No big hits, no big misses.' We want to make sure that we try and deliver to the coaching staff: players they know exactly what they are getting; and guys who have a real chance to make this football team. (Defensive back) Kevin Thomas (D3-10, on IR last year after pre-camp injury) is a prime example. That is a pick that we all agreed on and thought was going to be a good player for us. The very first play of the first rookie mini-camp he blows his knee out. Those things happen. Me, personally, I go into every draft saying if we have seven picks than I want 14 players and if we don't get all 14 I'm upset. Not upset, but disappointed. There are always players that go elsewhere that you say, 'Oh golly, I wish I had him.' As long as we get guys that contribute to this football team, then it's a success. We always feel good tonight (on draft night). Marv Levy used to say, 'Everybody is undefeated on draft day.' I think the guys that we have brought in here over the past couple of days and are going to make a difference. Unquestionably, we are going to sign some collegiate free agents that will make a difference."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on the draft being half over because of not being allowed to sign undrafted college free agents) April 30, 2011
"Absolutely. There are still jobs open on this team, and there are players that we believe unequivocally that can come here and make this team that we will be talking to when it is appropriate."
VICE CHAIRMAN BILL POLIAN (on what he sees in DB-Chris Rucker) April 30, 2011
"Well if you think Marlin Jackson. Again, I don't want to compare collegiate players to players that have helped us win Super Bowls or go to Super Bowls. But he has many of the same skills that Marlin Jackson has."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on his reaction to being selected by the Colts) April 30, 2011
"I am happy to be a Colt. I am looking forward to coming in and helping the team the best I can."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on how he thinks he fits with the Colts) April 30, 2011
"I think I fit into the secondary. I feel like the way I play really fits (the Colts') style of play. I think I will be able to help the team with the game I play."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on what aspects of his game he is going to have to show the coaches) April 30, 2011
"I think consistency, playing good and tough every day in practice. Just showing them I am a competitor, and I am willing to compete to any extent that I need to."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on being a late round pick) April 30, 2011
"I use it as being a motivational tool. It's another stepping stone, something you need to take and use as motivation."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on what the Colts told him when he was selected) April 30, 2011
"They told me they liked the way I play. They feel like I can help their team. They are looking for me to try to come in and help the team. I took that to heart and can't wait to get started."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on joining former Michigan State University teammate WR-Blair White) April 30, 2011
"In college him and I would always go against each other in practice. He made my game better. I really feel like that helped me in my last years in college going against him everyday. I look forward going against him again."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on using WR-Blair White's progress to help him prepare for the NFL) April 30, 2011
"When I was getting ready for Pro Day, he came back to school and he showed me a few things that would help me out at the next level. (He) showed me the things I need to improve on to give myself a better chance for me to compete, make plays and become a better player."
DB-CHRIS RUCKER (on his best football attribute) April 30, 2011
"My ability to tackle and make plays. I feel like I use my size well. I can really bring it all together on the field."