The 2010 NFL Draft culminated following the selections, deliberating and trading which took place during day three. Day three presented plenty of surprises, steals and as always drama for many of the organizations involved and their fans as well. One team that continued to make sound and quality picks throughout the draft and especially during the final day was the Indianapolis Colts. On day one the Colts drafted OLB/DE Jerry Hughes from TCU in the first round, during day two they selected MLB Patrick Angerer out of Iowa in the second round and CB Kevin Thomas from USC in round three.
With their first selection during day three Indianapolis finally decided to switch up their tendencies from the first two days and draft an offensive player in the form of offensive guard, Jacques McClendon from Tennessee. McClendon is a 6’3″, 324lbs lineman who has good strength, solid mobility, decent footwork and is incredibly intelligent (three-time All-SEC academic choice) who should fit in well with an advanced offense. McClendon was a very good selection for the 31st pick in the fourth round (129 overall) and should receive plenty of playing time due to the departure of left guard Ryan Lilja to Kansas City via free agency. There is even a very excellent chance that McClendon will have a legitimate opportunity to compete for a starting job as one of Peyton’s protectors.
Indianapolis decided to keep the focus on the offensive line with their next selection which came in the fifth round (31st in round, 162nd overall) when they drafted tight end, Brody Eldridge from Oklahoma. Although Eldridge isn’t a pass catching tight end he is an excellent protector in both pass and run situations and is the epitome of versatile. During this 6’5″, 265lbs senior’s final season as a Sooner, Eldridge started at three different positions on the Oklahoma offensive line (four games at tight end, four games at left guard and one at center). Having a guy like this on your team means that at any given point during the game he can step in and spell a player at any position other than tackle on the offensive line for a few plays. Having a player such as Eldridge could prove to be a major plus for a team attempting to reach the Super Bowl again.
The Colts next day three pick came in the seventh round (31st in round, 238th overall) and they switched back to the defensive side of the ball selecting defensive tackle Ricardo Mathews from Cincinnati. The 6’3″, 294lbs Mathews is a solid defensive tackle who didn’t play much during his first three seasons as a member of the Bearcats however during his senior year he received a huge increase in playing time and proved that he was worth every second of it. During the 2009 season Mathews racked up 41 total tackles and three sacks while displaying the ability to play exceptional versus the run and even wreak havoc against the pass at times. Once again the Colts front office made a wise decision in the late rounds drafting a player that could produce much more than many truly expected.
Indianapolis also had two compensatory picks during the seventh and final round. With the first of the two (33rd in the seventh round and 240th overall) the Colts decided to select another outside linebacker in the form of 6’1″ 235lbs senior outside linebacker, Kavell Conner from Clemson. Conner is a very good tackler who can stop the run effectively and also drop back into pass coverage effortlessly. He has good speed at the linebacker position and is also a very smart football player which means he is in the ideal place for him to grow as a pro in the NFL. During Conner’s final two years at Clemson he recorded 200 tackles with four sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception. Conner should step in and become a solid backup at either weak side or strong side linebacker for the defending AFC Champs in the 2010 season.
The Colts final pick of the 2010 NFL Draft and second compensatory pick (39th in round and 242nd overall) was yet another defensive player, cornerback Ray Fisher (5’9″ 185lbs) from Indiana, who could fill a role and make an impact as early as next season. Similar to every selection made by Bill Polian (Colts’ GM) and Jim Irsay (Colts’ owner) Fisher was a senior; however he only played on the defensive side of the ball during his final year as a Hoosier. Fisher converted from wide receiver to corner to help Indiana become a better team on defense and to also bolster his chances at making it to the NFL. During his one and only season as a defensive back, Fisher recorded 40 tackles, forced a fumble and displayed exceptional recovery speed and athletic ability to make defensive plays. Once again the Colts did what they needed to do which was strengthen their secondary and also draft a proven explosive returner on special teams.
All-in-all I would have to say as usual the Indianapolis Colts got it right during the later part of the draft selecting players at positions that they not only needed but those who they knew would fit in perfectly and instantly with what they like to do on the field. Day three may have been the best day of all in which the Colts front brass had to make decisions in this draft.