The Indianapolis Colts are going to draft Andrew Luck. That much we know.
But what comes next?
The quickest way to turn a top draft pick into a bust is to fail to surround him with talent. And while absolutely no one expects Luck to fall flat on his face, the Colts are in danger of surrounding him with a miserable supporting cast if they don’t make some significant moves this offseason.
For starters, the Colts must make every effort to retain their veteran free agents. Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez, Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem are set to hit the open market in March. And while the franchise tag could conceivably be used on Wayne or Saturday, it will be difficult to retain all five veterans.
If the Colts were to lose their top receivers – a very realistic possibility, considering the fact that few receivers look forward to playing with a rookie quarterback – Luck would be left with some combination of Austin Collie, Blair White and whoever else they sign/draft this offseason.
A depleted receiving corps would certainly hinder Luck’s development, but the issues on the offensive line pose a much bigger problem.
Anthony Castonzo, the Colts 2011 1st-round pick, is the only starter guaranteed to return in 2012. Joe Reitz and Jeff Linkenbach are under contract, but neither did much to earn the right to keep their jobs.
For this reason, re-signing Jeff Saturday may be the key to the Colts offseason. Having at least one veteran to anchor the offensive line would go a long way towards aiding Luck’s transition into the league. The last thing Luck needs is to be taking snaps from a rookie center, with his blind side protected by a struggling second-year pro.
Regardless of who the Colts are able to re-sign, the rest of the draft needs to be all about surrounding him with talent. There are a number of receivers and linemen who deserve consideration in the early 2nd round and it wouldn’t hurt to address another offensive position in the 3rd round as well. A rookie quarterback can never have too many playmaker at his disposal.