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Colts pull surprise by taking Purdue QB Painter

Sunday, April 26, 2009


AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Curtis Painter just wanted a chance to play in the NFL.

He never dreamed he'd get to do it his home state or alongside a three-time league MVP.

Colts president Bill Polian ended Painter's agonizing wait Sunday in the sixth round, making Painter a surprise pick at No. 201 overall that will allow him to compete in front of all those fans who watched him play in Vincennes and West Lafayette.

"I'm excited," Painter said after waiting more than 24 hours to hear his name called. "It's a great organization, it's close to home, and it's an opportunity to come in and learn behind a couple of great quarterbacks."

Clearly, Painter is not expected to compete with Peyton Manning for the starting job, and Indianapolis has been content with Jim Sorgi as the backup. The Colts hadn't even drafted a quarterback since Sorgi was taken in the sixth round in 2004. And because Manning has never missed a start in 11 NFL seasons, the Colts have traditionally kept only two quarterbacks on the roster.

Now Sorgi has a new challenge.

The younger, stronger-armed Painter will try to beat out the veteran who owns a Super Bowl ring and ran the offense last year at training camp when Manning was recovering from an infected bursa sac in his knee. But the Colts figured Painter was the best player still available, much like the 2008 draft when they took Michigan runner Mike Hart in the sixth round.

And Painter is talented. Some even billed him as a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate last year, and he was expected to vie for several school records at an institution nicknamed the "Cradle of Quarterbacks."

But Painter and his teammates struggled in Joe Tiller's final season at Purdue, and Painter's draft stock tumbled after throwing for 2,400 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 59.9 percent of his passes. One problem was a shoulder injury that kept him out of two games.

The other was a significant dropoff from Painter's 2006 and 2007 totals when he threw for more than 3,800 yards.

But Polian looked beyond the numbers.

Picking Painter wasn't Polian's only surprise Sunday.

In the seventh round, he traded a sixth-round pick in 2010 to Philadelphia to get an extra pick. Then he chose punter-kicker Pat McAfee, who attended West Virginia, the same school ex-Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt attended.

The Colts needed a punter after losing Hunter Smith in free agency to Washington. McAfee, however, is regarded as a stronger placekicker than punter, and the Colts still have Adam Vinatieri, who is considered the best clutch kicker in NFL history.

Yet Polian spent most of the weekend plugging holes.

A day after making running back Donald Brown the first Connecticut player ever chosen in the first round and adding Southern Cal defensive tackle Fili Moala to help stop the run, Polian opened Sunday's rounds by taking Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers.

The Colts needed depth because one starter, Marlin Jackson, is still recovering from season-ending knee surgery, and free agent Keiwan Ratliff, a key backup, recently signed with Pittsburgh. Polian also added a receiver, which became necessary following the release of Marvin Harrison in February.

The Colts took Brigham Young's Austin Collie, who caught 106 passes and led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 1,583 yards receiving last season.

"You want to get picked by a team that will be the best fit, and I think that's what I got," Collie said. "It's a blessing to go in this spot and get picked by a team you grew up watching. Who wouldn't want to go there? They have a fantastic quarterback, a winning program and know what it takes to get it done."

Nine picks later, with Indy's second fourth-rounder, Polian took 319-pound defensive tackle Terrance Taylor. He is the heaviest defensive player the Colts have had since switching to Tony Dungy's Tampa-2 scheme in 2002, giving the Colts an imposing new combination.

That's when Polian changed gears and kept Painter in the state he has always called home.

"I don't think you can ask for a better situation other than getting in and learning from those guys," Painter said. "It's really similar to when I came to Purdue and I was behind Kyle Orton, who was a senior. I hope to do the same thing here."

2009 Indianapolis Colts Draft Capsules

By The Associated Press

Profiles of the Indianapolis Colts' 2009 draft picks, listed by round selected:

1, Donald Brown, 5-10, 210 pounds, RB, Connecticut (27th overall pick). The Colts believe brings traditional game-breaking speed to the Colts. He was clocked at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his campus workout, and has the college productivity to match. In 2008, the junior ran for a Big East record 2,083 yards, tops in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and 18 touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Brown also fills a big hole for the Colts, who had only four running backs on the roster before Saturday's pick -- former Pro Bowler Joseph Addai, seldom-used Chad Simpson and Lance Ball and Mike Hart, who is recuperating from knee surgery. Brown is expected to share carries with Addai in 2009.

2, Fili Moala, 6-4, 303, DT, USC (56th overall). Moala provides a big body in the middle, which Indy lacked since releasing Ed Johnson early last season. He adds size and strength to the run defense and played in a similar defensive system while at Southern Cal. At 303 pounds, he will be the heaviest player on the defensive line, and team president Bill Polian believes Moala will make a smooth transition after playing in a similar defensive system at Southern Cal. Moala also showed pass-rushing skills last season in the Trojans 3-4 defense. But stuffing the run is what the Colts needed most, and Moala helps fill the hole.

3. Jerraud Powers, 5-10, 192, CB, Auburn (92nd overall). Powers, like Brown, left school a year early and is known as a solid performer in run support -- something that also will help solidify Indy's leaky run defense. He was clocked in 4.49 seconds and has good ball skills. But Powers could also fill a void if Marlin Jackson isn't 100 percent for the regular-season opener.

4. Austin Collie, 6-0, 200, WR, Brigham Young (127th overall). Collie caught 106 passes for 1,538 yards, the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Without Marvin Harrison, the Colts needed another receiver. Collie ran a 4.57 in the 40, so he doesn't have blazing speed. But he can play the slot, which may allow former first-round pick Anthony Gonzalez to play outside more frequently.

4. Terrance Taylor, 6-0, 319, DT, Michigan (136th overall). Taylor is big and strong, two qualities the Colts wanted to improve in this draft. He started all 25 games the past two seasons, then produced the most weight-lifting repetitions of any defensive linemen at this year's combine. The combination of Moala and Taylor makes the Colts' defensive line much more imposing.

6. Curtis Painter, 6-4, 230, QB, Vincennes HS and Purdue (201st overall). Painter goes into his new job with the understanding this will be a learning experience. The Colts have typically carried only two quarterbacks on the roster, and one is a three-time league MVP. So he won't be competing for a starting job. But after a poor senior season sent his stock tumbling, Painter is eager to compete with Jim Sorgi to be Peyton Manning's backup. Painter was the AP Class 4A All-State QB at Vincennes in 2003.

7. Pat McAfee, 6-1, 220, K-P, West Virginia (222nd overall). McAfee is known for his strong leg and his ability to make field goals in poor weather. He is the Moutaineers' career scoring leader (384 points), and is second in school history in punting average (44.7). Though he's generally considered a stronger kicker, the Colts will likely use him as a punter and perhaps a kickoff specialist.

7. Jaimie Thomas, 6-4, 330, OG, Maryland (236th overall). Thomas fits the Colts' profile. He is athletic and has quick feet, two traits offensive line coach Howard Mudd looks for. He also has a 78-inch wingspan and started the past two seasons at left guard. Though he's not likely to start, he will provide another quality player to the offensive line, which was hit hard by injuries last season.

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