AFC South: Louis Vasquez
I considered finances, continuity, turnover, additions and the draft.
Today we’ll look back to see how my plan and the team’s offseason lined up and how they didn’t.
Next up are the Colts. Here’s the original post.
What I got right:
Turnover: “Nose tackle Antonio Johnson did good work but isn’t ideal for a 3-4. Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney are on the roster, rebounding from injuries and better suited to do what the role requires. Receiver Donnie Avery was a nice reclamation project, but the Colts can and should be looking for an upgrade beyond Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton.”
The team made no effort to re-sign Johnson, who wound up with the Titans. Avery moved on to Kansas City and the Colts brought in Darrius Heyward-Bey, who looks to be an upgrade.
What I got part right, part wrong:
Draft: "What was missed in free agency? The emphasis should fall on that, be it outside linebacker, corner, safety or offensive line. …Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins would be a very nice fit if he’s there at No. 24. Also: at least one offensive lineman, a 3-4 end (or two), outside linebacker depth and additional corners.”
While they signed Erik Walden in free agency, they went pass-rushing outside linebacker with Bjoern Werner in the first round and picked two offensive linemen. But the Colts didn’t draft a receiver, a corner or an end.
What I got wrong:
Finances: “The team has more than $43 million of cap room, which means there's no need to search for savings. Still, one contract appears to be too big. Center Samson Satele needs to be a lot better in his second year to prove he's worth the free-agent deal he got in 2012 that calls for a $2.8 million base salary in 2013. Cutting him would save only $668,000, however, and at least until the line is restocked, the team should keep options alive, not kill one off.”
Not only did the Colts keep Satele, once they drafted center Khaled Holmes in the fourth round, they traded A.Q. Shipley to Baltimore. Shipley played better than Satele when he was in the lineup for the Colts last season.
Continuity: "They already held onto defensive end Fili Moala with a new contract. I’d re-sign Jerraud Powers to a one-year, incentive-laden deal, but that requires that no one else gives him something better. If he stays healthy, he can be a productive contributor. If he doesn’t, the Colts will have given him every chance.”
Powers went to Arizona for a three-year, $10.5 million contract with $3 million guaranteed.
Additions: “I’d target these four players, hoping to land three. Ravens outside linebacker/end Paul Kruger played for Chuck Pagano in Baltimore and is coming off a Super Bowl win. He could fill out a nice linebacking corps and boost the pass rush. Provided that Atlanta’s Brent Grimes is on the right path to recovery from a torn Achilles, he could be great opposite Vontae Davis as a second starting cornerback. Houston safety Glover Quin could be a nice takeaway from the team the Colts are chasing in the AFC South and has enough versatility to fit with Antoine Bethea and ultimately take over his role. On offense, San Diego’s Louis Vasquez is the sort of guard who could help settle a line that has to be far better.”
Right positions, wrong names. The additions were Walden, cornerback Greg Toler, safety LaRon Landry and guard Donald Thomas.
He looks to be a major upgrade over Winston Justice, who served as a stopgap at the position last season and should do a great deal to help reduce hits on Andrew Luck and create room for backs like Vick Ballard.
Here’s Scouts Inc. on Cherilus.
"Cherilus has been a mainstay along the Lions' offensive line since entering the league in 2008. He has great length with good strength and adequate athleticism for the position. He is tough to contend with if he engages with defenders early in the play, locking on and staying connected. He can be inconsistent at playing with proper pad level, which exposes his lack of recovery agility in pass protection. Cherilus has progressed each season and brings experience to the offensive line."
Mark Schlereth said on "NFL32" that Cherlius is a good, but not great player at the position, but rates as “a tackle who will beat you up.”
It’s unclear how interested the Colts were in the top two guards of the free-agent market. But Levitre and Louis Vasquez disappeared quickly, with Levitre to Tennessee and Vasquez to Denver.
The Colts are expected to be working on adding a pass-rusher -- perhaps Cliff Avril with Paul Kruger heading to Cleveland -- and multiple defensive backs. Early reports have them tied to safety LaRon Landry of the Jets.
I’m a bit skeptical about the idea of replacing a 4-3 end like Dwight Freeney with a 4-3 end like Avril in the Colts' 3-4 front.
Five free agents the Texans would like to re-sign, from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
The five best free agent additions in Texans history, from Patrick D. Starr at State of the Texans.
The Texans signed Phillip Supernaw, a local kid who was on the practice squad last season, says Dave Zangaro of CSN Houston.
The Colts can finally begin spending this afternoon to fill some serious holes, says Mike Chappell.
Who’s better for the Colts, Andy Levitre or Louis Vasquez? Kyle Rodriguez considers the question at Colts Authority.
Holding onto cornerback Darius Butler should be a priority for the Colts, says Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue.
The dialogue between the Jaguars and cornerback Derek Cox remains open, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
John Oehser of the team’s web site could see the Jaguars drafting a left tackle in the first two rounds and sorting things out with him and Eugene Monroe.
Asked to rate the importance of elite quarterback play on a scale of 1-10, David Caldwell rates it at 11, the GM said in an impromptu Twitter session, says Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country. Caldwell pledged to go on Twitter for 15 minutes every Monday after a sellout.
The Titans could make a quick splash in free agency with guard Levitre but they need a Plan B, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
Ranking the Titans best free agent additions with David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper.
Considering guard options in free agency for the Titans beyond Levitre, from Tom Gower of Total Titans.
The NFL has denied an appeal by New York Jets guard Matt Slauson regarding the $10,000 fine he received on a block to Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
The Houston Chronicle's John McClain says, "Unless (Eric) Winston gave a big-time hometown discount, which would be foolish at his age, I expect him to sign with another team."
Texans safety Glover Quin is a "priority re-signing," according to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, who lists value-added free agents.
Indianapolis is chomping "at the bit to pursue Baltimore Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger or San Diego guard Louis Vasquez" once contract negotiations with agents begin Saturday at 12:01 a.m., says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.
Quarterback Chandler Harnish, also known as 2012's Mr. Irrelevant, spent last season on the Colts' practice squad. Harnish tells The Journal Gazette that he's positioning himself to make the active roster in 2013, a move that could prove more feasible should backup QB Drew Stanton leave the Colts.
Jaguars safety Dawan Landry, who was set to make $5.35 million this year, will be released by the team on Friday, according to ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.
The Jaguars have $26 million in cap space and only one potential big-money free agent in cornerback Derek Cox. But "this isn’t time for a spending spree," reminds the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran, who says regardless of the cap, Jacksonville will still need to add key positions before the draft.
Who are the Jaguars' restricted free agents? O'Halloran has details.
While Matt Hasselbeck's future with the Titans is up in the air, the 14-year veteran quarterback tells The Tennessean's John Glennon that he's hopeful he'll stay in Tennessee but some things are just out of his control.
Jake Locker stands by his belief that wins are more important than accuracy: “...I have to figure out ways to put our team in better situations to win games and that is by finding ways to complete more passes.”
Rob Bironas, the third most accurate kicker in NFL history (85.6 percent) and second leading scorer in franchise history, tells Gary Glenn of Titansonline.com that his multi-year contract extension keeps him in a place and with a team he calls home and he couldn't be happier.
Finances: The team has more than $43 million of cap room, which means there's no need to search for savings. Still, one contract appears to be too big. Center Samson Satele needs to be a lot better in his second year to prove he's worth the free-agent deal he got in 2012 that calls for a $2.8 million base salary in 2013. Cutting him would save only $668,000, however, and at least until the line is restocked, the team should keep options alive, not kill one off.
Continuity: They already held onto defensive end Fili Moala with a new contract. I’d re-sign Jerraud Powers to a one-year, incentive-laden deal, but that requires that no one else gives him something better. If he stays healthy, he can be a productive contributor. If he doesn’t, the Colts will have given him every chance.
Turnover: Nose tackle Antonio Johnson did good work but isn’t ideal for a 3-4. Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney are on the roster, rebounding from injuries and better suited to do what the role requires. Receiver Donnie Avery was a nice reclamation project, but the Colts can and should be looking for an upgrade beyond Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton.
Additions: I’d target these four players, hoping to land three. Ravens outside linebacker/end Paul Kruger played for Chuck Pagano in Baltimore and is coming off a Super Bowl win. He could fill out a nice linebacking corps and boost the pass rush. Provided that Atlanta’s Brent Grimes is on the right path to recovery from a torn Achilles, he could be great opposite Vontae Davis as a second starting cornerback. Houston safety Glover Quin could be a nice takeaway from the team the Colts are chasing in the AFC South and has enough versatility to fit with Antoine Bethea and ultimately take over his role. On offense, San Diego’s Louis Vasquez is the sort of guard who could help settle a line that has to be far better.
Draft: What was missed in free agency? The emphasis should fall on that, be it outside linebacker, corner, safety or offensive line. Ryan Grigson did well with Hilton and needs to find another receiver for Andrew Luck, this time an outside guy who will bring potential to succeed Wayne eventually. Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins would be a very nice fit if he’s there at No. 24. Also: at least one offensive lineman, a 3-4 end (or two), outside linebacker depth and additional corners.
Here’s a glance at their "Offseason Playbook" for the Colts:
Offense: “In the run game, the Colts want to be physical between the tackles with power man blocking up front, but they have finesse personnel -- so we will still see wide plays, draws, misdirections and stretch looks as they evolve. The passing game will work with a variety of personnel packages, including two-tight end sets and multiple-receiver looks with a lot of movement and motion."
Defense: “Right now they are forced to try to win on defense with exotic schemes instead of superior personnel, but that will eventually change. This defense must improve at not giving up so many big plays.”
Needs: They’ve got outside linebacker at. No. 2, behind offensive line but ahead of cornerback.
Key free agent match: Andy Levitre, guard, Bills.
PK thoughts: That power man blocking up front might benefit more from Louis Vasquez, the free-agent guard from San Diego, than from Levitre, who ranks as less powerful. But either would be a big-time addition.
Ryan Grigson is way more comfortable: A year on the job and a situation with far fewer difficult questions makes a huge difference for a general manager. Last year at the combine, he was sweating and nervous while unable to offer much on the Peyton Manning situation. This time, with a playoff berth in his first season at the helm, he was far more relaxed and joked about the difference in just one year.
Pat McAfee could be tagged: The Colts punter has indicated he’d be fine with being tagged. The number is about $3 million. But the Colts would clearly like to strike a long-term deal. “He’s a major priority in free agency,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed. We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon." New deal or no new deal, expect McAfee to remain the team's punter and kickoff man going forward.
It’s premature to say what the offense will look like: Chuck Pagano is excited about new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. “I’m sure there will be things we’ll look at and look to implement as far as the West Coast concepts go, a few more check-downs, underneath routes, run after catch,” Pagano said. Andrew Luck's completion percentage will certainly go up and while Hamilton will surely continue to look for strikes downfield, this offense is unlikely to put it the way Bruce Arians did.
Indications are the Colts want a veteran lineman: Given a choice between a rookie cornerback or a rookie offensive lineman in the lineup, Grigson said he’d prefer a rookie corner. The logical conclusion, then, is that a team with a ton of cap room that is pledging not to go crazy in free agency will prioritize at least one veteran O-lineman. One report says they'll target Louis Vasquez if the Chargers allow him to reach free agency.
They could have a traditional fullback: Tight end Dwayne Allen did some fullback-style work last season. Hamilton will emphasize the run more than Arians did. But the Colts don’t yet know if they’ll use a tight end when they have a play that calls for a lead blocker or if they’ll have a more traditional fullback. “We’ll do our evaluations here, study everybody that’s here and then, at the end of the day, if there is a traditional fullback type body out there that fits what we’re doing, fits the system and everything else, then we’ll make a move on him,” Pagano said.
Former Secretary of State James Baker adds heft to Houston’s bid for Super Bowl LI in 2017, says Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle. Baker pledged that the bid will be first class, says Robertson.
How what happened at the combine will affect the Texans, from Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report.
The Indianapolis Colts, whose new personnel director is the Chargers’ former personnel director, will make a run at guard Louis Vasquez, says Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Five big takeaways from the NFL scouting combine, courtesy of Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.
The Colts’ drop rate in 2012 was the highest it’s been in five years, says Kyle Rodriguez of Colts Authority.
Right tackle is a big question mark for the Jaguars, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
A thorough look at the combine takeaways from John Oehser of Jaguars.com.
David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper on Chris Johnson: “It is not too much to ask a three-time Pro Bowler (and one of the highest-paid players at his position) to consistently gain useful yardage on first down, convert in short-yardage situations, and generally just keep the offense moving. In fact, given the team’s commitment to a young, evolving quarterback, it is imperative.”
The Titans can get better at cornerback just from internal growth, says Tom Gower of Total Titans.
Ready to go four rounds deep? Here's what Mel Kiper is saying in a new four-round mock draft posted Thursday.
I think a Texans' fan would have to be very happy if the first two picks went like this.
No. 15: Linebacker Brian Cushing, USC
No. 46: Defensive tackle Evander Hood, Missouri
No. 77: Cornerback Keenan Lewis, Oregon State
No. 112: Defensive end David Veikune, Hawaii
No. 122: Receiver Mike Thomas, Arizona
No. 27: Defensive tackle Peria Jerry, Mississippi
No. 61: Receiver Derrick Williams, Penn State
No. 92: Linebacker Jason Phillips, TCU
No. 127: Running back Javon Ringer, Michigan State
No. 136: Linebacker Jonathan Casillas, Wisconsin
No. 30: Receiver Percy Harvin, Florida
No. 62: Cornerback D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt
No. 94: Linebacker Marcus Freeman, Ohio State
No. 130: Guard Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech
No. 135: Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor, Michigan