Every February, Indianapolis becomes the center of the football world as prospects, scouts, coaches and GMs stream into Lucas Oil Stadium for the annual combine.
Of course that also means the media will be there, too eager to make way too big a deal out of one of the truly boring events of the year.
Colts fans, eager for any news about their favorite team, will lap up all the coverage. Of course, it's ridiculously early to have any idea what the Colts will do in the draft, but that won't stop us from endlessly speculating anyway.
Here's everything the Indianapolis Colts fan needs to know about the hype-fest that is the combine.
Know What You Don't Know
When it comes to the Colts, they have so many holes on the roster. Short of quarterback and tight end, they could draft any position in the first round and still fill a major need.
They need a running back, a wide receiver, linemen and arguably every single defensive position.
The combine isn't going to help answer the question of what the Colts need the most.
Two things have to happen before we have any idea what Indy will do come April. First, they have to re-sign their own players. If they offer a deal to Donnie Avery, suddenly wideout comes off the board.
Second, they have to navigate free agency. With huge dollars to spend, the Colts could totally remake their offensive line, and suddenly all the draft-niks sending tackles and guards to Indy look like fools.
Finally, the Colts select late in the first round. There's absolutely no way to even guess who will be available when they get to pick.
Be careful about following the combine too closely. So much of the data that comes out of it is irrelevant. It's a great way to lower your football IQ by getting too much of the wrong kind of information.
Know What You Do Know
The Colts had one of the worst defensive units in football in 2012. It was literally good at nothing.
Indy needs interior linemen, pass-rushers, corners and a safety. In 2011, Ryan Grigson hit the offense hard. Given those facts, it's reasonable to keep an eye on any defender with a late first-round grade.
Of course, that's a huge pool, and nothing that happens at the combine will change that by much.
Even with cap room to burn, there's just no way the Colts can bring in enough veterans to fill all the glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball. The current players they have are simply not good enough.
While revamping the offensive line for Andrew Luck is a concern, linemen are fungible and can be acquired on the cheap and in the later rounds.
Indy is unlikely to land an elite defender late in the first round, but they could add a solid starter who will represent an upgrade over anyone currently on the roster.
The combine is nothing more than a chance for teams to get some consistency in their measurables about certain players.
When it comes to combine prospects, remember that we already know how the player looked on tape.
What guys have done in real games will weigh far more heavily than their 40 time this week. Never forget that you know how a guy can play.
What to Watch
Pay close attention to heights, weights and injuries.
If a player comes in too heavy, it can hurt his stock. If he's shorter than expected, he could tumble a few spots.
Mostly though, listen closely to the injury talk. NFL teams invest a lot in draft picks. The top thing they want out of a selection is good health. Teams aren't going to take a big risk on a guy they perceive as likely to have a bad injury profile.
Teams have a profile they work off of. The tricky part with Grigson and Chuck Pagano is that both are so new to their jobs that we don't know their strategies yet.
The only thing we can say with confidence about Grigson is that he'll be aggressive. If there is a trade to be made, he'll make it. The problem is that he's already dealt away 2013 draft picks, so the Colts don't have much ammunition to work with.
What Not to Watch
Don't listen to stories about hot risers or fallers based on the combine.
Health is the only issue that really matters. Players will drop because of injury, not because of a slow 40 time.
The media desperately wants fans to pay attention to what is an otherwise mind-numbingly mundane process, so do yourself a favor and ignore the trumped-up drama.
Grigson and Pagano will be giving interviews. Be careful with those as well. Most of what teams say during the combine is blather and smoke screening. They'll use lots of cliches and compliment everyone, but don't take it too seriously.
Players to Ponder
If your desire for draft info is truly insatiable, here's what the biggest draft experts are saying about names for the Colts.
Matt Miller: Alex Okafor, OLB Texas
Todd McShay: Johnthan Banks, CB Miss St.
Mel Kiper Jr.: Johnthan Banks, CB Miss St.
Bucky Brooks: Ezekiel Ansah, DE BYU
Pete Prisco: D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama
The key to interpreting mock drafts is that experts identify a loose grouping of similar players and then try to guess the biggest need a team faces.
Then, they simply throw a player at that need.
That's not the way a successful front office operates, but it generates plenty of draft-related traffic.
While any of those players could fit in with the Colts, don't be surprised if none of them wind up wearing a horse shoe next year.
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