|NFL Draft: Colts pick Gonzalez in 1st round|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 28 April 2007 15:00|
After having four starters leave in free agency and then waiting more than six hours to make a pick, the Super Bowl champions filled some holes Saturday.
The Colts took receiver Anthony Gonzalez with the 32nd pick overall, made an uncharacteristic trade to select Arkansas tackle Tony Ugoh early in the second round. Team president Bill Polian explained the moves by saying the Colts wanted to get younger.
``If you have players there that you think will make us better, then you have to strike while the iron's hot,'' Polian said. ``(Coach) Tony (Dungy) and I said before that you need to get some youth at virtually every position and we did that.''
Polian decided not to try to fill the team's more glaring needs on defense first.
Instead, his message to the rest of the league was that the Colts' offense isn't about to slow down - moves Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning endorsed enthusiastically.
``His text message was 'I like it,' `` coach Tony Dungy said.
But at what cost?
Taking Gonzalez meant passing on at least three defenders who might have made an immediate impact - Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, Michigan defensive tackle Alan Branch and Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston - given Indy's free agency defections.
Branch and Posluszny were taken with the first two picks in the second round, while Houston went to Atlanta at No. 41 overall. Ugoh was chosen No. 42.
The Colts have lost starting cornerbacks Nick Harper and Jason David, former Pro Bowl linebacker Cato June and running back Dominic Rhodes. Safety Mike Doss, a former starter, also signed with Minnesota, and the Colts released defensive tackle Montae Reagor.
To get Ugoh, the Colts also paid a steep price by sending next year's first-round pick and a fourth-rounder this year to San Francisco.
Now they're hoping Gonzalez and Ugoh can keep the Colts offense humming.
Indy views Gonzalez, a 6-foot, 193-pound receiver, as a younger, quicker version of No. 3 receiver Brandon Stokley. Stokley was released in a cost-cutting move in March.
Polian said the two were comparable in size, speed, dedication and even their personalities.
But the selection was nearly as surprising to Gonzalez as it was to those outside the Colts inner circle.
``I woke up this morning and said to my brother, Nick, 'Where am I going?' `` Gonzalez said. ``He said, 'I don't know but Indy would be perfect.' When the phone rang, I asked my other brother, Joe, who was on the clock. He said, 'Chicago.' I said, 'You idiot, it's not Chicago.' ``
Gonzalez, an Ohio native, said he couldn't imagine a better scenario. He'll line up alongside two Pro Bowl receivers in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and, of course, will be catching passes from Manning, the two-time league MVP.
Like Gonzalez, Ugoh had little contact with the Colts - aside from one conversation with the team psychologist last week.
And when he slid through the first round, Ugoh figured he'd be anywhere but Indianapolis since the Colts weren't scheduled to pick again until late in the third round.
But seeing a potential replacement for three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tarik Glenn, Polian wasted no time in making the trade. Glenn is entering his 11th NFL season with Indy. Ugoh is listed at 6-foot-5, 301 pounds and will likely start out playing guard.
``That's what you hope for,'' Dungy said. ``You train him to play a couple of places and that's what Tarik did. I'd never been a fan of this kind of move until I came here and Bill taught me and showed me that you get the guy a year early. You hate giving up future picks, but we've done it twice since I've been here, and it's worked out.''
The selection came eight years to the day the Colts last took an Arkansas lineman in the draft, Brandon Burlsworth, who later died in an automobile accident.