With six picks in the first five rounds of Saturday’s draft, Colts president Bill Polian must try to plug the gaping hole in the middle of the defensive line.

Polain has drafted one DT since '03. The cupboard is bare and the Goose isn't walking through that door.

Polain has drafted one DT since '03. The cupboard is bare and the Goose isn't walking through that door.

In Polian’s defense, there was no way to know that Quinn Pitcock would quit football at age 24 and Ed Johnson would get busted with marijuana. But the Colts have to address the defensive tackle position through the draft — not with low-level free agent fodder as they’ve done in the past.

Polian has drafted one defensive tackle since 2003 — Pitcock in 2007. We all know how that turned out.

The Colts’ defense was among the worst against the rush in 2008. As a result they ranked 25th in time of possession, meaning fewer touches for Peyton and company. And as usual, the Colts’ inability to stop the run ended their playoff hopes early. They allowed the Chargers to run all over them — 33 rushes for 167 yards and 3 TDs.

The situation at defensive tackle has never been more dire heading into the draft. If the season began today, the Colts would likely start Keyunta Dawson (a 254-pound seventh-round pick who was drafted as a defensive end) and Eric Foster (a 265-pound undrafted free agent). Together, they slightly outweigh Cleveland defensive tackle Shaun Rogers.

Polian lives and dies by his mantra of picking the “best player available” regardless of need or position, but this season has to be the exception. With no money to spend in free agency the Colts were unable to pick up a defensive tackle, and there weren’t many to choose from.

If Mississippi’s Peria Jerry falls to the 27th pick, the Colts would be foolish to pass on him. At 299-pounds, he’s got the speed the Colts like and is an excellent run-stopper. Jerry could be off the board by the time the Colts make their selection, but with plenty of picks in his pocket, perhaps Polian will move up a couple spots to get him.

If the Colts wait until Round 2 to get a defensive tackle — where they have the 61st pick — there should be some decent options there. Boston College’s Ron Brace, San Jose State’s Jarron Gilbert, and USC’s Fili Moala could all still be on the board.

Gilbert is undersized (288 pounds) but very athletic; Moala is a bit bigger and slower than Gilbert, but was highly productive for an elite program; and Brace is a beast (330 pounds), but had some injury issues his senior year.

Of course this is Polian we’re talking about, the master of the unexpected. Experts seem convinced the Colts will either go defensive tackle or wide receiver in the first round, which can mean only one thing — “With the 27th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select … a 170-pound tight end out of Alcorn State that you’ve never heard of.”

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