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2015 NFL DRAFT
CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Draft team needs: Indianapolis Colts

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It just won't feel right not seeing No. 18 at the line of scrimmage in Indianapolis Colts colors, barking out signals, making his pre-snap reads and gyrating like a kid trying to flag down an ice cream truck.

Peyton Manning was the Indianapolis Colts.

Now it's time to replace him.

Will Andrew Luck, who will be the top overall pick, be up to facing the challenge of following Manning in the city he put on the NFL map?

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The Colts released Manning and his bad neck earlier this year for cap reasons, and because there was uncertainty about his neck troubles. He signed with Denver, which means it's a new era in Indianapolis -- a rebuilding one.

In 1998, the Colts picked Manning first overall, went 3-13 in his first season, and then became a dominant team the next 13 seasons, winning one Super Bowl.

If Luck can have half as much success as Manning, he will be considered a good replacement.

Colts owner Jimmy Irsay, who made the decision to release Manning, has said his team is definitely in rebuilding mode.

New coach Chuck Pagano, who comes over from the Ravens after serving as defensive coordinator, has a big job in front of him in the next couple of years.

QB: Luck is a smart, polished quarterback who has a lot of the same tools Manning had when he came into the league. Luck is more athletic than Manning, which will help with the so-so offensive line he'll have in front of him. It might take him time to get truly comfortable, but having played in a pro-style offense at Stanford will help. Drew Stanton, who came over from the Jets after Tim Tebow went to New York, will be the backup. Stanton has started at times for the Lions, so he has experience. But this will be Luck's team right from the start.

RB: With veteran Joseph Addai gone, Donald Brown and Delone Carter remain as the two top backs. Brown finally started showing why the Colts took him in the first round in 2009. He led the Colts with 645 yards rushing, with an impressive 4.8 per-rush average. Carter was second with 377 yards as a rookie and could get more carries this season. The fullback, a position that was almost nonexistent with Manning under center, will be Ryan Mahaffey. The Colts could use depth here.

WR: Reggie Wayne made the decision to re-sign with the team, which seems strange considering the Colts are in rebuilding mode. Wayne isn't the same player he was a few years ago, but he will be a nice weapon for Luck to have in the huddle. Wayne is a pro's pro. With Pierre Garcon gone to free agency, the other starter might be Donnie Avery. He signed as a free agent, but he's had two knee injuries that have slowed him. If he's healthy, he'll add speed. Austin Collie, who has had concussion problems, will be the slot receiver. Quan Crosby and Jarred Fayson are also in the mix. This is a position in need of an upgrade.

TE: For years, Dallas Clark made this a position of strength for the Colts. He missed most of last season with a broken wrist and isn't coming back. Jacob Tamme left as a free agent. That leaves Brody Eldridge as the top guy for now. The backup is Chris Gronkowski, the brother of New England's Rob Gronkowski. It wouldn't be a shock to see the Colts draft a tight end in the second round. This is another position that needs help.

OL: Manning covered up a so-so offensive line with his pocket presence. He knew how to escape pressure and slide away from it. Luck won't be as good at it early on, so the line has to be better. Talent-wise, it isn't that impressive. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo and right guard Ben Ijalana are second-year players who the team has big hopes for in the future. Castonzo got some valuable experience as a rookie in 2011. The rest of the line will be Winston Justice, signed as a free agent from the Eagles, at right tackle, with Joe Reitz at left guard. Samson Satele, signed away from Oakland as a free agent, will be the center. It will be a bigger line than the ones the Colts had under Manning. The top backups are Mike McGlynn inside and Jeff Linkenbach on the outside.

DL: The Colts are moving to a 3-4 defense, which means Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, the two ends, will now play standing up. That's a big adjustment. Mathis looks like the more natural of the two in making the move, so it will be interesting to see if Freeney can make the move. The down linemen are expected to be Drake Nevis and Cory Redding at the end spots and Antonio Johnson on the nose. Redding played for Pagano in Baltimore. Nose tackle Brandon McKinney also comes from the Ravens. Fili Moala and Ricardo Matthews are the top backups at end.

LB: If Mathis and Freeney can make a smooth transition, the Colts will have a nice starting four. In addition to those two, Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner are expected to be the starters inside. Angerer led the team in tackles last season as a rookie. Conner struggled as a coverage linebacker, but would seem to be better suited inside in a 3-4. There is little experience in terms of depth. Former first-round pick Jerry Hughes is the top backup outside.

DB: In corner Jerraud Powers and free safety Antoine Bethea, the Colts have two good players in the secondary. Powers is coming off a dislocated elbow, but he is expected to be ready. Bethea remains a steady presence in the back end. The other corner will come from Kevin Thomas, Brandon King, Terrence Johnson and Chris Rucker. Thomas and Rucker both had starts last season, but neither had a pick. Tom Zibikowski will get the first crack at the strong safety spot. He also comes from the Ravens as a free agent. Joe Lefeged and Dave Caldwell are in reserve.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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