After a fantastic 2012 NFL draft, a pleasantly shocking 2012 season and a productive 2013 free agency period, Ryan Grigson has finally come to his second NFL draft. With an incredibly beneficial position in the 2012 draft, it will be a little more challenging this time around.
Grigson has a chance to truly show his drafting prowess this year, with a draft chock-full of depth and no Andrew Luck to ensure success at the top. With many holes on the team, the Colts need each and every pick to count, especially if they wish to contend with Houston for the division title in 2013 and continue to move toward Super Bowl contention.
While the first round decision last season was easy, there's no Andrew Luck waiting for the Colts in 2013. The Colts didn't go with conventional thought by picking Bjoern Werner in the first round, and fans may not recognize names later in the draft picked by Grigson either. However, a need has been filled, and expect other needs such as defensive back, offensive line and defensive line to be addressed over the next few days as well.
There certainly will be surprises and disappointments, but one thing is certain: Comprehensive coverage and analysis will follow every move. Keep this page open throughout the draft, as it will be updated with each move the Colts make over the weekend.
The Colts surprised people by selecting Bjoern Werner with their first round pick, someone who was rarely connected with them prior to the draft. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was the most widely mocked player to the Colts this past week, and was still on the board at 24, along with DE/OLB Tank Carradine, another name that has been discussed recently.
But, the Colts went with Werner, a German native who is valued at varying degrees among scouts. With all of the value that was still on the board, it likely would have been the best value for the Colts to find a trade partner to trade back with, but the Colts submitted their pick extremely quickly once the Vikings selected defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
Despite the varying opinions of Werner, there is no question that he fills a need for the Colts. Erik Walden is not the long-term answer at strong-side outside linebacker, but Werner may be. Werner isn't going to be compared to a Dion Jordan in terms of athleticism on the edge, but he has a strong burst off the line and uses his hands very well to both disengage with offensive linemen and knock passes down.
In run support, Werner needs to improve his technique and refrain from standing straight up. But he has the strength to be a very good edge-setter, and is disciplined in his gap responsibilities.
Overall, I give this pick a B+. I don't think it was the best value available, but the Colts addressed a serious need with a player that has great potential.
Once again, the Colts surprised me with this one. There were several other positions that had a lot of value left, such as wide receiver or defensive back. But, the value at interior offensive line is likely going to drop dramatically as the draft goes, which is why I originally mocked interior offensive line here for Indianapolis.
As the Colts transition into a power-running offensive scheme, Thornton is the type of lineman that will be targeted: big, strong, and hard to move. Thornton is 6'3", 320 pounds, and has quick feet for a man of his size.
Thornton latches onto defenders once he engages them, and doesn't let up until the defender is on the ground. His athleticism and quick burst off the line allows him to deal with interior pass rushers, although his length isn't quite the fit for tackle.
Thornton can get overpowered if he stands up too quickly, which is always a potential problem with tall guards, but if he improves his hand placement, he should be just fine as a pass protector.
I give the pick a B-. He fills a need, but I would have liked Brian Schwenke or Barrett Jones at interior OL over Thornton. The Colts may miss out on a dynamic skill player if there is a run on them in the early fourth.
When Ryan Grigson talked about improving the offensive line this year, he wasn't kidding. The Colts have added OT Gosder Cherilus and G Donald Thomas as projected starters in free agency, and now add C Khaled Holmes along with G Hugh Thornton in the draft.
Holmes projects as a guard in the NFL, and like Thornton has very quick feet, which allows him to get to the second level very quickly. Holmes is about 20 pounds lighter than Thornton, and isn't as much of a mauler in the run game, but is a little more flexible and can play center if necessary.
The weaknesses for Holmes include playing too high and losing leverage, as well as some nagging injury issues in 2012. Some scouts thought that he would only be effective in zone-blocking schemes in the NFL due to his struggles against power defenders.
This pick didn't make much sense to me, and I give it a C-. Better center/guard options would have come in the 3rd with Schwenke or Jones. The Colts now have Linkenbach, Reitz, Shipley, Thornton, McGlynn, Satele, Thomas, and Anderson competing at interior line, but have holes at other positions.
There is a lot of value at skill positions right now, but most of those will likely be gone by the Colts 6th round. Unless they trade up to take a top WR or DB, I'm afraid the Colts may have lost their chance to get a steal at those positions.
The Colts traded up in the early fifth round, trading their 2014 fourth round pick for the sixth pick in this year's fifth round. With the selection, the Colts made their second improvement to the defensive front seven by selecting defensive lineman Montori Hughes.
The trend early in this draft has been to draft high-character, high-motor type of players, and Hughes breaks that trend. Hughes is the type of player with great physical traits, but questionable technique and personal history.
On the positive side, Hughes has prototypical size for a nose tackle (possibly DE in the 3-4, but more likely nose tackle), with great quickness and strength. He doesn't give up ground in the run game, can take a double team well, and can rush the passer with his quickness and good swim move.
With the great physical characteristics, however, comes some concerns. Hughes has had off the field problems, leading to being dismissed from the University of Tennessee, and played against a much lower level of competition at Tennessee-Martin. His motor and work ethic has been questioned as well.
The pick is a solid pick, with high upside, a B pick for me. Hughes could be a great cornerstone for years to come, but he also could flop, which means it's a risky trade to lose your 2014 fourth. I would have rather seen one of the several high-value skill players here, but this addresses a position with little elite talent.
After going offensive and defensive line in the fourth and fifth rounds, I expected the Colts to go defensive backfield or wide receiver here. I mocked Bacarri Rambo to the Colts in the 4th in my mock, and was disappointed to see him go to the Redskins just one pick before the Colts.
But, the Colts still went with a coverage free safety by selecting John Boyett from Oregon. Boyett looks to slide in behind Antoine Bethea as free safety, and should contribute on special teams right away.
The questions on Boyett come in the medical side, as he ended his senior year early due to partial tears in both patella tendons. If healthy, Boyett has great instincts in coverage and is solidly built. He's a little small (5'10", 30 1/2" arm length), but is a big hitter and has the character to go with it.
I like the pick, even though Rambo was my dream scenario. It's a solid A- in my book.
The Colts finally give Andrew Luck something to potentially play with with this pick, after addressing the defense and offensive line through the first six rounds.
Williams is a small, but well-built, back who's best used out of the backfield. He's got great breakaway speed and always moves forward. His speed makes him an option in the return game as well.
The negatives on Williams is that he's not a great runner without space. He doesn't have very good vision and his cuts take too long to be effective. He's not a great pass protector, and will need to improve that if he's going to be a utility back in the NFL.
I give the pick a solid B. Other playmakers were available, but the Colts could use a return specialist that will be an option as a utility back for Andrew Luck as well.
With the Mr. Irrelevant pick, the Colts selected Justice Cunningham, a big, athletic tight end from South Carolina.
The Colts believe that they are set at tight end with Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener being drafted last year, but Cunningham is a nice piece to round out the position.
The drafting of Cunningham, if he makes the team, could allow the Colts to cut Wesley Saunders, who wasn't notable when taking snaps last season. Cunningham is nearly 260 pounds at 6'3", and is a tremendous blocker both in run blocking and pass protection.
He's not an explosive option in the passing game, as he's slow and not incredibly quick, but he's a good route runner and adjusts his body in the air well. He can be a solid third tight end and be used in heavy run blocking schemes with enough versatility to give the defense second thoughts about ignoring him.
I give the pick an A-. It's not a sexy pick, there are other positions of need, but I love Cunningham as an upgrade to Saunders as a third TE.