INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Grigson doesn’t care what position they play, what his team’s perceived needs are or what round they come in. He wants one thing in this year’s draft and that’s impact players.
He would rather find guys that fit Indianapolis’ system and fit in with the coaching staff.
If there’s not a player sitting there at No. 24, the room is not excited and we’re not high-fiving and things like that and we’re not even doing a little fist bump, we probably shouldn’t take that guy, Grigson said last week. We’re going to probably look to trade out if there’s a player there we feel is just OK. We want players at that spot, especially in the first round, who are going to substantially help us get to our goal.
For Grigson and his second-year regime, the goal is the Super Bowl and this draft will look completely different than their first. A year ago, Grigson and his brain trust had already settled on taking Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick.
This time, the Colts (11-5) can use help at just about any position other than quarterback, where they are well-stocked with Luck, free agent signee Matt Hasselbeck and second-year quarterback Chandler Harnish, a Norwell graduate.
Grigson also plugged some major holes with a free-agent signing frenzy. The Colts added two offensive linemen to protect their franchise quarterback, a veteran backup in case Luck gets hurt, a former first-round pick at receiver, a Pro Bowl safety and other possible new starters on the defensive line, in the secondary and at linebacker.
So the Colts could do almost anything in the draft.
Where will they look?
Perhaps at a new pass rusher to replace franchise sacks leader Dwight Freeney. Or possibly a young cornerback who could be groomed to start. Other possibilities include a bigger inside linebacker, another top receiver or running back to give Luck more options in the new offense, and with the talent pool so deep along the offensive and defensive lines, the Colts could look up front, too.
Some of the names that have been mentioned as potential picks include receiver Keenan Allen, defensive tackle Johnathan Jenkins, linebacker Jarvis Jones and cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant.
Grigson believes he can find a gem even deep in the draft. Over the past decade, those taken at No. 24 include Dez Bryant, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Jonathan Joseph and former Colts tight end Dallas Clark. And if Grigson isn’t enamored with what’s left, he may try to add an extra second-day pick to replace the one he gave up last August in the Vontae Davis trade.
There’s usually a pretty good player there, Grigson said. If there’s a player there, you hope it’s a blue (defensive player) but if there’s a sure-fire starter or at least an eventual starter that’s going to strengthen this team and fit the vision of winning championships than we’ll pluck him. But if there’s just a guy there and we feel like if we had a two than we can get this guy, that’s bad business. We aren’t going to do that. We are going to trade back.
The Colts go into the draft with six picks – one each in the first, third, fourth and sixth rounds – and two in the seventh.
One thing that hasn’t changed from 2012: Grigson again has the final pick. Last April, he selected Harnish in that spot. This year, for the first time since Oakland chose receiver Ryan Hoag in 2003 and linebacker Andre Sommersell in 2004, the same team will make back-to-back Mr. Irrelevant picks.
I like having that pick, Grigson said. I feel like that’s still a spot in the draft. It’s very relevant to us. We hope to get a player there who has starter traits, just like we would at any other spot.
When asked if the Colts would be interested in a player such as former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off his college team after failing multiple drug tests, Grigson called Indianapolis a place that has been willing to give players second chances whenever they deem the risk is worth it. They just won’t reach for a player like Mathieu.
They’ll follow the same pattern in the first round, too.
I’m not going to discount anything. We always look at the best players, the best talent, Grigson said. Those big bodies that have any type of dynamic ability, there’s only a handful ever in the draft. If we’re fortunate enough to be sitting there staring at one, we’d have to talk about it.