Given the team's unstable situation at the position, it's understandable that former University of Tennessee guard Jacques McClendon was elated to be selected by the Colts in Round 4 of the recent NFL Draft. The chance to play right away for a Super Bowl contender represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Although he earned High School All-America recognition at Chattanooga Baylor, McClendon's greatest honor as a collegian was Academic All-SEC. The 6-3, 324-pounder started 26 games at guard for the Vols, including all 13 in 2009, but was not regarded as a draft-worthy player by many NFL analysts.
Shortly after drafting McClendon, however, Colts president Bill Polian vowed: "We'll play the five best players. Position doesn't really mean much.”
McClendon lacks the footwork to play tackle, however, so he'll be competing for a roster spot in preseason against fellow guards DeVan, Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard, Jaimie Thomas and Andy Alleman.
DeVan (6-2, 306) started the last nine games of 2009-10 at right guard. He is a second year pro out of Oregon State who, as noted earlier, was signed as a free agent a year ago after a stint in the Arena League.
Pollak (6-3, 301) started the first seven games of 2009-10 at right guard. He is a third-year pro out of Arizona State who was selected in Round 2 of the 2008 NFL Draft. He started 13 games for the Colts as a rookie in '08.
Richard (6-5, 295) played in nine games last season, mostly contributing on special teams. He is a third-year pro who was taken in Round 7 of the 2008 draft out of Buffalo.
Thomas (6-4, 330) spent 2009-10 on Indianapolis' practice squad.
Alleman (6-4, 310) is a fourth-year pro from Akron who was signed as a free agent earlier this year after being released by Kansas City. He started three games for the Chiefs in 2009-10.
Head coach Jim Caldwell has good things to say about McClendon at Colts.com, the franchise's official website:
“He gives us a pretty stout guy inside at the guard position and one with obviously athleticism as well. He's a guy who can give us some real anchor there in the middle. He's highly competitive and an extremely bright guy. He's a guy who has intellectual capability to learn our system and learn it quickly.”