With the combine winding down in Indianapolis, it's time to examine what, if any, news has bearing on the draft plans of the Colts.
While the vast majority of important meetings and examinations took place behind closed doors and away from the media, there are few things we can take away from the scouting combine.
Chuck Pagano Spoke to the Press
NFL Draft Scout transcribed all the press conferences, and Pagano had a few tidbits of note.
He was asked about the influence of Pep Hamilton and the West Coast offense on the Colts, and his comments were illuminating:
If you just look at it, the West Coast style offense there's a higher completion rate. I think Andrew (Luck) completed probably over 70 percent of his passes while at Stanford. That rate was high there the last couple of years, like it is with any West Coast offense.
I'm sure there will be things we'll look at and look to implement as far as the West Coast concepts go, a few more check-downs, underneath routes, run after catch.
He also emphasized just how important Pat McAfee is to the team's long-term plans:
He's huge. He's a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we've reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed. We saw what he did for us last year. He's a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touch backs. I sat in a hospital bed and from home for 12 weeks and watched him pin guys back inside the 20, inside the 10 over and over again.
To have a weapon like that is a tremendous asset to a team. It helps with field position, helps our offense, helps our defense, set up long fields for opponent's offenses, things like that.It's a huge priority getting Pat back.
According to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, he also indicated the team would like to retain Jerraud Powers.
Finally, he suggested that Jerry Hughes could in fact be the man who replaces Dwight Freeney despite precious little production to date:
We saw flashes of a lot of guys who got playing time. When Dwight was out of there, there were opportunities for guys like Jerry (Hughes), Justin Hickman. There are some bodies there.
Time will tell. I know we've all been waiting for Jerry. My expectations for him are to come in and be the guy we all thought he could be. I think he feels the same way. We've seen evidence on tape where he's flashed and shown those signs. What we saw from him in college where he could be that guy. I fully expect him to show up and be ready to take over.
Ryan Grigson Spoke to the Media
General managers are loathe to share details about their draft plans, but Grigson did have some comments of note.
He shared his enthusiasm for having more cap space to work with:
Excellent. It's black and white. Last year I was in a completely different situation. It's nice to be able to go shopping a little bit. It's nice to be able to know that if there is someone I'm really pining for, I've at least got a crack at him.
Last year, too, in a way was still fun for meas my scout (roots) to go out there and dig and find guys that other people may have overlooked. Maybe they didn't have to dig as hard because they had the money to go get the guys that were right there for the taking. That will serve us all well.
Perhaps the most interesting thing he shared was that he doesn't downgrade players for character issues:
We don't want to downgrade somebody because they have an issue. We grade what we see on the film, and then we address those issues at a later date.
That would be a real departure for the franchise. Previously, the Colts always took character issues strongly into account when drafting. It will be fascinating to see how that changes the nature of the team.
Finally, he indicated that he prefers young corners to young offensive linemen:
A first-year offensive lineman, there's a lot more bullets flying in that vicinity where he's working that involves thinking and involves experience.That's why a lot of times they call those rookie tackles they go through a baptism of fire. They don't say that because it's an easy process. A lot of times that ends of working in their favor when they're thrown out there like that.
A lot of times corners that play on an island, they're relying on technique and pure athletic ability and God-given ability. A lot of times on the offensive line, their first year they're going to see exotic blitzes that they could even dream of. They're going to see pass rushers and body types they never knew existed even in some of the bigger conferences.
Players Worked Out
If that sounds like a generic title for a subheadline, it's intentional. It's impossible to guess what the Colts will do in the first round.
With so many needs, Indy could take the top player available at any number of positions and instantly improve the club.
What was interesting was the quick 40 time from wideout Tavon Austin, which could push him up into the first round.
With Indy in desperate need of receiving help, Austin's flight up the board could be attractive. The only issue is that he's something of a T.Y. Hilton clone. Still, if he gets taken earlier by another team, perhaps a bigger receiver could fall to the Colts.
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