Monday, April 28, 2003

Colts say draft went according to plan



By MIKE CHAPPELL
The Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS - Needs that had been identified were addressed by the Indianapolis Colts as the NFL's meandering 262-selection draft unfolded over the weekend.

But one reality remained Sunday night as the team stepped back and examined the handiwork that delivered seven prospects to the roster.

"None of these guys are anything, yet," team president Bill Polian said. "They're just draft choices."

Coach Tony Dungy nodded in agreement.

"We hit a lot of our needs," he said. "We matched those needs up with guys we think are good players.

"But you never really know until a couple of years down the road."

Sunday's bounty included offensive linemen Steve Sciullo of Marshall in the fourth round and Makoa Freitas of Arizona in the sixth round, defensive end Robert Mathis of Alabama A&M in the fifth round, Tennessee linebacker Keyon Whiteside in the fifth round and Cato June, a safety at Michigan who will be switched to linebacker, in the sixth round.

That group supplemented the first-day yield of Iowa tight end Dallas Clark, Ohio State safety Mike Doss and Colorado cornerback Donald Strickland.

Polian said the Colts were able to follow their pre-draft plans nearly to the letter.

"For good or for ill -- and we'll find out -- we stuck with our plan and our plan came to fruition," he said. "There were no surprises."

Whether the Colts maximized the draft will hinge on how a couple of prospects are able to adapt to new positions and if another, Mathis, can make the huge leap from an NCAA Division I-AA school to the pro level.

At Alabama A&M, Mathis was a 6-2, 235 defensive end. He also was a big-time playmaker with 44 sacks and 20 forced fumbles. His 20 sacks as a senior set a Division I-AA single-season record.

With some teams, Mathis likely would be switched to outside linebacker. The Colts will use him as a situational pass rusher.

"Think of (Dwight) Freeney at 235 (pounds)," Polian said. "I'm not saying he's Freeney, but (there are) similarities at lower-level of competition."

Dungy's eyes light up when he considers a frenetic pass-rush tandem of Freeney at right end and Mathis at left end. But at this point, he knows it's just fantasy.

As Dungy acknowledged, there is no guarantee success at the I-AA level will manifest itself in the NFL.

"You always (worry)," he said. "But then you think of Jerry Rice."

The best wide receiver in NFL history played his college ball at Mississippi Valley State, a conference rival to Alabama A&M.

"Sometimes you have to trust your instincts and your eyes when you see a guy who does it," said Dungy.

The desire to add Mathis' playmaking potential came at a cost. The Colts traded their fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft to Houston so they could grab him with the third pick of the fifth round.

While the Colts are asking Mathis to play at a higher level, they will require June and Sciullo to play at different positions.

At Michigan, June was listed as a strong safety who doubled as a nickel linebacker. Polian described the position as a "box" safety, one who crowds the line of scrimmage in linebacker-type fashion.

As Dungy watched videotape of June, he saw a weak-side linebacker.

Along those lines, Sciullo started the past three seasons at left tackle, the blind-side protector of quarterback Byron Leftwich.

The Colts consider him a guard with "starter" potential, according to Polian.

"That's the criteria for a player in the fourth round," he said.

The Colts have had success finding quality guards in the fourth round. Two started as rookies: Steve McKinney (1998) and Ryan Diem (2001).

Dungy said there always is a risk involved when teams ask players to switch positions.

"The risk is you haven't seen them do it at the position or the style or the type of play you're going to ask them to do when they get here," he said.

"You feel he could be able to do that. But it's not the same as seeing a guy that's played that position for four years in college."

Colts draft class of 2003

1. (24) Dallas Clark, TE, Iowa.

2. (58) Mike Doss, S, Ohio State.

3. (90) Donald Strickland, CB, Colorado.

4. (122) Steve Sciullo, G, Marshall.

5. (138) Robert Mathis, LB, Alabama A&M.

5. (162) Keyon Whiteside, LB, Tennessee.

6. (198) Cato June, LB, Michigan.

6. (208) Makoa Freitas, OT, Arizona.




NFL DRAFT
A lifetime lived in 8 days
Day Two sees team turn focus to defense
Team adds fullback to mix
2 more Bearcats selected in draft
Five Buckeyes headed to NFL
Winners and losers in 2003 draft
Were there really 12 QBs better than Ken Dorsey?
Colts say draft went according to plan
With McGahee pick, Bills start new soap opera
Giants bolster defense through draft
Texans select Drew Henson
2003 NFL Draft selections
Team-by-team draft

REDS
Reds 7, Padres 5
Daugherty: Bob Boone
Larkin boosts Lopez, who then boosts Reds
Reds notebook: Larkin won't rush return

MORE BASEBALL
NL: Millwood throws no-hitter
AL: Blue Jays rally to beat Royals
Notes from Sunday's games

HORSE RACING
The Kid still has dreams
Idaho horse heads to the races
Frankel's horses pass workouts

PREP SPORTS
Kentucky insider: Madden eager for her return
Prep polls and leaders
Schedule and results

NHL PLAYOFFS
Flyers shut out Senators 2-0

NBA PLAYOFFS
Pierce walks his talk as Pacers fall

GOLF
Couples wins his first in 5 years

TENNIS
A furious finish follows sluggish start for Agassi

AUTO RACING
Busch ends slump at Auto Club 500

REMEMBERING...
Joe B. Hall enjoys the simpler things these days

PLAN YOUR DAY
Monday's sports on TV, radio

Return to Bengals front page...