Interview with Dave Razzano by Dewey Hammond.
Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox and Dick Vermeil. He's been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000).
Q: It feels like the stable Indianapolis Colts put the same roster on the field every year but obviously that’s not the case. Rosters change. Where has Indy’s roster gotten better and worse?
A: I think they’ve gotten better at wideout, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and obviously at quarterback they’ve always had Manning but now they don’t have much of a backup. At the running back position they’ve got Donald Brown to backup Addai, and I think eventually Donald Brown will be the guy. They’ve added some players at the offensive skill positions, and they added the kid out of TCU at defensive end to go along with Freeney and Mathis. Jerry Hughes is his name. They get the undersized backers, the quick active guys. They sort of have a type of player they go after. Kind of unheralded guys like Bracket, Clint Session, Ramon Humber. They get guys that are a bit off the radar but they all fit a profile. They’re kind of undersized but they’re all explosive. They put an emphasis on explosion and movement.
Q: When you say Donald Brown will eventually take over, do you mean in a year or two, halfway through the season, week one of the season? Where do you see his progression?
A: I think it should be this season fro the get-go. He’s a lot more talented than Addai. Addai is a nice serviceable player in the NFL but I think Donald Brown has a lot of the same attributes as Ray Rice. He ran the same way in college and was dominant at Connecticut the same way Rice was dominant at Rutgers. He put up huge numbers and has real solid intangibles: work ethic, maturity. The same kind of size, maybe even a little bigger than Rice. I think Donald Brown needs to be the featured guy and it wouldn’t shock me if it was this season.
Q: You said they got better at tight end but they’ve had Dallas Clark there for what seems like forever?
A: Clark continues to get better, plus they’ve got a guy named Tom Santi. Peyton Manning, he makes everybody look good. Austin Collie looked all-world with his numbers last season, and he’s a good player but not a great one. Same with Pierre Garcon. A guy like Tom Santi was a good receiver in college. I think they’ve got a quality backup in Santi. He can catch the ball, and Brody Eldridge, the rookie kid they got from Oklahoma, he’s a really good blocking TE. They’ve got some good young guys behind Dallas Clark all of a sudden.
Q: Where are Indy’s biggest weaknesses. I know you’ve mentioned they don’t have a strong backup QB with Jim Sorgi leaving town, but assuming Peyton stays healthy, where are the Colts weak?
A: You know, they don’t have a real strong offensive line and they don’t have a real strong defensive line interior. Plus the corners are young guys. They played well last year but, again, when you have Peyton Manning, that really changes everything. He covers up a lot of weaknesses when you have them. Plus the offensive line isn’t great but they play smart. They just don’t have any elite players on the offensive line. But the way Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball makes all the difference. He just doesn’t take sacks. I think at corner, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey played pretty well last year, and they’ve got a sixth-year guy Kelvin Hayden who is pretty good. They don’t have a lot of depth, though, and their defensive interior and offensive lines are pretty average.
Q: You used the word “explosive” to describe the mold of Indy’s players. How does this differ from, say, Al Davis and the Raiders and their mold of speed?
A: Well it’s all functional. The Raiders get a lot of tall angular guys who aren’t as quick-twitch moving. Bob Sanders and Dwight Freeney are perfect examples. On the height-weight-speed chart they’re undersized, but they can explode because of their size. Like Gary Brackett. Undersized guys who can explode from point A to point B without that standing quickness. That’s pretty much what falls in line with a lot of these players the Colts have. Even a guy like Freddy Kelaho, who went to Jacksonville. They have guys like that, 5’11” linebackers who are quick. That first-step quickness. The Raiders tend to get bigger, taller, lengthier guys. They’re not as quick-twitch. They’re more striding type. They go for speed on paper. The Colts get the functional explosive guys as opposed to the 40-yard dash. But there teams like the Packers and the Raiders that would bump these guys down a notch or two because they don’t have the height, but the Colts put a premium on that, it seems like.