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Indianapolis Colts 2003 Draft Preview

By Bryan McGovern, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - Tony Dungy led the Colts to the playoffs in his first season with the franchise but was unable to advance past the first round. Indianapolis is going to emphasize defense in the draft. The team lost LB Mike Peterson in free agency, and defensive linemen Chukie Nwokorie and James Cannida are also gone. Dungy would like to upgrade his secondary, but there are also other needs in the front seven.

The Colts are in the market for a safety who can come up and play the run. The need could be filled in the first round with Troy Polamalu (USC) or Mike Doss (Ohio State). Polamalu is a workout warrior with a huge upside, but he might be gone by the time the Colts jump on the clock. However, the team could trade up a few spots if it really wants him. Doss is a solid safety who could step in immediately and contribute. While he’s not as physically gifted as Polamalu, the Colts probably wouldn’t have to trade up to get Doss.

Indianapolis is expected to address its need for an athletic cornerback in the second or third round. Potential targets include Sammy Davis (Texas A&M;), Rashean Mathis (Bethune-Cookman), Drayton Florence (Tuskegee) and Kevin Garrett (SMU). Dungy loves cornerbacks who can force turnovers and should get a quality player to fill the hole on the first day of the draft.

Peterson, who signed a lucrative contract with Jacksonville, was simply too expensive to be re-signed. His departure, however, leaves a major void in the Colts’ linebacking corps. This draft is weak at the LB position, as Boss Bailey and E.J. Henderson are the only two linebackers projected to go in the first round. The Colts might be better off waiting until the third or fourth round to get a player like Nick Barnett (Oregon State), Victor Hobson (Michigan), Bradie James (LSU) or Cie Grant (Ohio State).

Dungy loves big defensive tackles who eat up space and stuff the run. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team go for one it likes in the first three rounds, but there is also some good depth in the middle rounds. Florida’s Ian Scott would be an excellent addition in the third round. Later-round candidates include Jarret Johnson (Alabama), Anthony Adams (Penn State), Eric Manning (Oregon State), Dan Klecko (Temple) and Matt Walters (Miami).

The Colts will use the second day of the draft to add depth to the secondary and offensive line. Dungy wants to use TE Marcus Pollard more as an H-back, so the addition of a tight end in the middle or later rounds would be smart. L.J. Smith (Rutgers), George Wrighster (Oregon) and Zachary Hilton (North Carolina) are intriguing mid-round candidates.

DRAFT NEEDS: Safety, linebacker, cornerback, tight end, defensive tackle, offensive line depth.

DRAFT PICKS: 1st round (#24 overall); 2nd round (#58); 3rd round (#90); 4th round (#122); 5th round (#162); 6th round (#198); 7th round (#208).

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2002 - Dwight Freeney (DE, Syracuse); 2001 - Reggie Wayne (WR, Miami); 2000 - Rob Morris (LB, BYU); 1999 - Edgerrin James (RB, Miami); 1998 - Peyton Manning (QB, Tennessee); 1997 - Tarik Glenn (OT, California); 1996 - Marvin Harrison (WR, Syracuse); 1995 - Ellis Johnson (DT, Florida); 1994 - Marshall Faulk (RB, San Diego State), Trev Alberts, (LB, Nebraska;) 1993 - Sean Dawkins (WR, California); 1992 - Steve Emtman (DE, Washington), Quentin Coryatt (LB, Texas A&M;); 1991 - none; 1990 - Jeff George (QB, Illinois).

04/22 15:46:33 ET

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