Colts GM Ryan Grigson made the decision in the beginning of the off-season to not pursue big free agents, but instead to build the roster through the draft. The Colts had originally 6 picks heading into Thursday’s first round, but after trading their second round pick to Green Bay to slide down in the draft, Indy managed to snag up two other picks in the process.
It’s obvious that the Colts have a bunch of holes in their roster, and the biggest problem was obviously the offensive line in front of Franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, and in the first round, Grigson did that this draft.
Indy had the 18th pick in the draft, and wasted no time to fix the o-line by drafting Alabama Center, Ryan Kelly. Kelly, one of the best centers come out of the draft in recent years, finally resolves the center issue Luck has had since he arrived to Indianapolis. Kelly is a very intelligent player, a great pass and run blocker, and is a great leader as he was a captain for the National Champion-winning Crimson Tide.
Going into Friday, the Colts had the 48th and 82nd pick, but then traded their 48th pick to trade down in the draft to Green Bay for the 57th pick, a fourth (125), and a 7th (248). With the 57th pick the Colts took T.J. Green, a Free Safety out of Clemson. Green, is an hard-hitting safety who had great results at the combine (4.3 on the 40), and also with great size at 6’2. Mike Adams is not getting any younger, and with that being said Green will have time to develop and work on his Football IQ, so that he and last year’s fourth round pick Clayton Geathers can become the Colts duo of the future.
Later that Friday night, Grigson once again went back to fixing the offensive line by selecting Texas Tech Offensive Tackle, Le’Raven Clark. Clark offers versatility with his ability to play both tackle and guard, has solid size at 6’5, 315, and also has a ridiculous 36 inch arm length. This type of versatility and physical traits is exactly what the Colts need to protect Luck.
The final rounds of the draft were crucial in re-tooling this Colts team, and Grigson and the Colts scouting staff had a very productive Saturday.
Defensive Tackle Hassan Ridgeway, out of Texas was drafted in the fourth round (116th) gives the Blue and white depth and variety at the position. Though Ridgeway has durability and consistency concerns, he offers experience at the 3-4 defensive scheme,size, and once playing at the top of his game, is a force to be reckon with. Henry Anderson will be coming off a torn ACL, giving Ridgeway an opportunity to earn some snaps, and work on his craft while Anderson is still getting a feel back for the game.
The Colts drafted again in the fourth round from the Green Bay deal, and selected Inside Linebacker Antonio Morrison out of Florida. Jerrell Freeman leaving for Chicago, D’Qwell Jackson getting up there in age, and the durability concerns from Nate Irving, the Colts needed to take an ILB. Morrison tackling machine (204 tackles in 2 seasons), and once was arrested for barking at a police dog. That type of toughness and aggressive mentality is needed for the Colts struggling run defense.
In the later rounds, Grigson and the Colts draft focused on the depth of the o-line by drafting players, such as Joe Haeg, and Austin Blythe.
Haeg, who protected second overall pick Carson Wentz in college, will need time to develop, but offers a pretty high ceiling to protect the blindside, as well as good size at 6’6, 304.
Rushing the quarterback is another Colts issue, but the o-line was a lot more important to fix, so Grigson could not help the pass rush too much, by only drafting an outside linebacker in the 7th round (Trevor Bates).
This draft was very good for the Colts, as it solved the need to protect Andrew Luck. Wherever Luck goes, the Colts go with him, and with him on the sidelines, the Colts won’t go far, just as they did last season.
Final Grade: A-