Indianapolis Colts: Preparing for the Draft and Tying up Loose Ends

The 2010 NFL Draft is less than a week away, and that means Bill Polian, Jim Caldwell and the rest of the Indianapolis Colts scouting staff are hunkered down at the team’s West 56th street complex. Mock drafts are all over the place in terms of what direction they think the Colts will go with their first round pick.

Over on, draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has Indy taking hulking defensive tackle Jared Odrick out of Penn State, while his counterpart Todd McShay predicts they’ll take Jerry Hughes, a hybrid defensive tackle/linebacker out of Texas Christian University.  Others think the team will address the offensive line, a focal point of change this offseason, and still others predict a physical cornerback could be the selection.  Basically what it all boils down to is that nobody knows what Polian is thinking, and he’s certainly not willing to spill the beans.

With all the excitement and anticipation directed towards next week’s draft, the Colts have quietly secured the services of several key players.

Melvin Bullitt:  The gregarious safety became a fan favorite when he filled in for the perpetually injured Bob Sanders this past season, and was signed to a one-year deal for $1.68 million.  Bullitt started 12 games last season, and ranked third on the team with 82 tackles despite playing most of the season with an injured shoulder.  With Sanders back, Bullitt will fill a utility role in the Colts secondary in 2010.

Daniel Muir: The Colts claimed the unknown defensive tackle off waivers two seasons ago, and he became an integral force in the resurgent defensive line last season, tabulating an impressive 66 tackles.  He also signed a one-year deal, and figures to resume his role as gap-clogger in the Colts defense in the upcoming year.

Antonio Johnson: Much like Muir, Johnson was acquired by the Colts off the trash heap when the Tennessee Titans released him.  A former 5th round pick in the 2007 draft, Johnson spent his first season with Titans on injured reserve due to a knee injury, but the Colts scouts thought enough of him that they brought him towards the end of the 2008 season.  The 6-foot-3, 310 pounds Johnson was immediately implanted in the starting lineup, a spot he manned for 15 games in 2009.  Like Muir and Bullitt, Johnson was also signed for one-year at $1.68 million.

After those three signings, the Colts are left with just two restricted free-agents they’ve yet to come to terms with; Antoine Bethea and Charlie Johnson.  Johnson started at the all-important left tackle position last season, replacing the disappointing Tony Ugoh, and Bethea, a Pro Bowler in 2008, has started at safety since he was drafted in the 6th round in the 2006 draft.  Unless the Colts have something up their sleeve, both are expected to back with the team in 2010.

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