5 Questions the Indianapolis Colts Will Answer on Draft Day
NFL free agency is winding down for 2013 and the NFL draft is still three weeks away. Stuck in the doldrums between storms, NFL fans have little to do but mull over their front office's thought processes.
Colts fans are no different.
The Indianapolis Colts front office expresses a quiet confidence in their decisions to modestly upgrade their talent level while maintaining financial discipline.
Their free-agent signings cover every position group that underperformed last season. Yet none of the signings really stand out as The Player who can come in and dramatically improve the Colts.
Judging from the comments of Colts' fans on Bleacher Report, there is a thinly veiled discomfiture regarding Ryan Grigson's offseason personnel strategy. They seem willing to give the reigning NFL Executive of the Year the benefit of the doubt, for now.
Since Grigson and the Colts signed free agents to help in their weakest areas, their strategy in the NFL draft is enigmatic, leaving Colts fans with more questions than answers.
Which Position Are the Colts the Least Confident in After Free Agency?
NFL teams do not cut their first-round draft pick. Ever.
With the 24th overall pick, the Colts will have missed out on the top prospects, which means they will be drafting for need. And since they will not cut their first-round pick, whoever is drafted 24th will be a player the Colts are expecting to make the roster and contribute in the 2013 season.
It follows that the position played by the Colts' first-round draft choice is the position at which the Colts feel they still need a talent upgrade.
Grigson and company could throw us all a hard-breaking curveball if they trade out of the first round all together. Teams with fewer "needs" often adopt this tactic, allowing them to bring in plenty of talent without being locked into keeping a dud first-round pick around.
The Colts could simply trade down a few places, in which case we know they are targeting a specific player to fill a specific need.
Or, they could trade the pick for future or later-round picks. This would be a fairly clear indication that Grigson's crew is as confident in their free-agent class as they seem.
How Secure Do the Colts Really Feel at Running Back?
The Colts seem quite content with their current stable of running backs. Perhaps with so many needs on defense and the offensive line, the lack of a game-changer running back is a low priority.
The Colts said little and did nothing to upgrade the running back position in free agency, and spending a late-round draft pick on one wouldn't cost them much. It would also indicate that the Colts are looking for a potential playmaker out of the backfield that isn't currently there.
Does Ryan Grigson Really Love NFL Scouting Combine Flops?
At this year's combine, Grigson said that he loves it when a player that he already likes performs poorly in his workouts (ESPN.com). Grigson surmises that this will lower that player's draft status and perhaps let good talent slip to a bargain price.
Of course this is only true if you believe that Grigson puts zero stock in combine workouts and that other NFL teams don't see the same patterns as Grigson.
Another explanation is that Grigson is Hollywooding and trying to deceive the competition. Compare Grigson's draft choices with their combine performances to see if he was bluffing or if he actually had the nuts.
Pass Rush or Stuff the Run?
The Colts were horrible against the run last season. They were in the bottom five in every category and were gashed for huge numbers as they backed their way into the playoffs.
So it wasn't too surprising when the Colts signed a free-agent linebacker with more of a reputation for stopping the run than for rushing the passer.
Of course, their pass defense wasn't exactly stellar either, as they ranked in the bottom third of all passing categories.
If the Colts draft a linebacker or defensive end who specializes in the pass rush, we'll know that Grigson and Pagano are trying to balance out the Colts' tool kit. If they go for another run-stopper, we'll know that the Colts want to load up against the run and take their chances against the pass.
Given some of the backs in the AFC South, a stuff-the-rush-first strategy is not a bad idea.
Who Will Be This Year's Mr. Irrelevant?
For the second consecutive year, the Colts will have the dubious honor of drafting Mr. Irrelevant.
With the last draft pick in the 2012 draft, the Colts chose Chandler Harnish, a QB with great physical tools but lacking any ability to read and react in the NFL game. He may develop one day, and he's still on the Colts roster, so they clearly see something in him.
Mr. Irrelevant has become a bit of an NFL icon. Past Mr. Irrelevants hold an annual get together. At least one woman made an indecent proposal to whomever claims the award.
She probably heard that the medical student who finishes last in their class ranking is still called "doctor." Unfortunately, the same principle does not apply to the NFL draft class.
Several past Mr. Irrelevants went on to have decent NFL careers, including kicker Ryan Succop ('09) whom the Colts face on a regular basis.
Grigson could reinforce his growing legend if his 2013 Mr. Irrelevant become relevant.