INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis had a major haul last year in the draft, landing players nearly from top-to-bottom who contributed to a nine-game jump to 11-5 and a return to the playoffs.
They were coached hard from the outset and told to contribute.
As the veil is lifted on the selection process tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Radio Music City Hall, these Colts can reflect on last year’s draft and how the last year has gone.
“The night before the draft, to be honest I can’t remember it (laughs),” said Andrew Luck. “In my case, I sort of knew what was going to happen. That maybe took a little bit of the anxiety or apprehension out of it.
“It is still very, very exciting. For all of the guys in New York it’s fun. For all of the guys at home, or at school, or wherever they might be, it’s a very interesting day.”
While Luck’s destination was well known and his roster status was a given, other Colts had a bit more to chew on as the draft ensued.
“You can’t eat. You can’t sleep, you’re waiting for your name to be called,” said T.Y. Hilton, a third-round pick. “You finally get that call and they tell you they’re trading up for you. You feel relieved and it’s a blessing.
“I kind of was going with the flow. Whatever team drafted me. Whatever round it was, I was going to come out and give my best and give them 100 percent. I was very happy, very excited.”
“When I got drafted, it was a weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Ballard. “In no way, shape or form did I think I was in good because I was the last pick of the fifth round. I was just hoping to come in and make the team.
“I didn’t know if I was going to make the team or not. I was hoping to stick around. Whatever I was going to have to do to stick around, I was going to do it.”
Ballard ended up leading the Colts in rushing, providing a burst from the backfield to supplement Luck’s and the offense’s exploits.
Fleener paused on Wednesday to reflect on a year that has passed, one that felt like a paradox.
“I don’t know,” said Fleener if he felt a year had gone by since being drafted. “Looking back, it seems like it went really fast. During it, it seems like it was a long year.”
Asked to consider the last 12 months, Allen felt the rewarding process he has been through never ended after his last game with Clemson.
He knows the blur facing players to be drafted and what their future might include if they are taken by a successful team.
“You think about the season we had to go through, from me playing in the Orange Bowl in January, going straight to combine training to the combine, to Pro Day, to mini-camp and OTAs, finally a little break but not long, getting ready for training camp,” said Allen. “Then we go 21 games, then, finally, the off-season. It was a long year, a really long year, but a quick off-season.
“I’m finally taking a deep breath. I’m back in off-season workouts. It’s really been a year-and-a-half.”
Allen suggests in-coming rookies be like sponges, soak up details and prepare for everything. Ballard is one-year NFL schooled, but does not feel like an old hand.
“Old hand, definitely not,” said Ballard. “I’m just my second year in. A guy like