In a matter of one draft, Indianapolis began its rise to NFL superpower status in the Peyton Manning era, effectively reviving a franchise that spent more than a decade dominating in the AFC. With Manning’s neck injury and subsequent departure, however, uncertainty ensued.
Indianapolis made a bold decision to cut ties with Manning in favor of drafting Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in 2012. What would follow was a testament to both Luck’s immense skill and the mettle of Colts brass in making a difficult decision that has proven to be a tremendous choice thus far.
Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth last season, just a year removed from a 2-14 campaign in 2012 that led them to draft the former Stanford superstar with the first pick. Letting Manning go after more than a decade of dominance wasn’t a popular decision, but it was the right choice. The future of the franchise looks brighter than ever.
With their franchise signal-caller in place, the Colts had only to focus on building around him this offseason. They found the biggest piece of the puzzle last offseason, and general manager Ryan Grigson was left to fill other holes without needing to worry about who will be under center going forward.
Grigson brought in some offensive help this offseason in the form of former Detroit Lions offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus, former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, running back Ahmad Bradshaw and veteran signal-caller Matt Hasselbeck, but considering the pieces he already had in place, the young GM wasn’t forced to make a major splash on the free-agent market to shore up the offense.
Grigson also signed safety LaRon Landry to a four-year contract to strengthen the team’s secondary, but the high-profile signings ended there. As has often been the case for the Colts, the organization filled a couple positional needs in free agency with the intent of continuing to build through the draft.
Indianapolis did well to employ that strategy this offseason, taking advantage of value throughout the selection process in adding some quality talent on both sides of the ball. We’ll take a closer look at the Colts’ draft class in the following slideshow.
For as well as Indianapolis turned things around last season, Colts fans have even more reason to be excited about the 2013 season and the future of the franchise. The transitional period between quarterbacks is often tumultuous, but Luck proved he is ready to lead Indianapolis back to elite status in the AFC. The future is extremely bright.
Let’s take a closer look at Indianapolis’ offseason, including the NFL draft, free agency and positions to watch as the 2013 season draws near. We’ll also offer some predictions for this campaign and highlight the biggest games on the team’s 2013 slate. Read on.