The Indianapolis Colts selected seven players in the 2013 NFL Draft highlighted by four offensive players, including guard
With the first round (24th overall) selection, the Colts picked outside linebacker Bjoern Werner from Florida State University. Werner was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous All-America first-team selection as a junior in 2012. In his final season with the Seminoles, he started all 14 games and finished 13th in the nation with 13.0 sacks, while ranking second in the ACC with 18.0 tackles for loss. He also posted 42 tackles (30 solo), eight passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
“Bjoern is a hell of a football player,” said General Manager Ryan Grigson. “Thirteen sacks, ACC Player of the Year. You turn on the film and he jumps off the screen at you. He’s one of those guys you watch and immediately say, ‘He’s not going to be there.’ But like we talked from the beginning, you take the (NFL) Combine with a grain of salt. It factors, but you shouldn’t let a great player slide by you because he didn’t blow out a great 40 time. This guy is productive, plays hard, eight batted passes this year I believe, plus 13 sacks, a ton of (tackles for loss), (he) is a team player too and fits coach’s mold as a human being and a football player.”
With the third round (86th overall) pick, the Colts selected guard Hugh Thornton from Illinois University. Thornton played in 42 career games, making 35 starts at both guard and tackle. He helped lead Illinois to back-to-back bowl victories in 2010 (Texas Bowl) and 2011 (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl).
“I like that our whole entire staff has really had big grades on him since August,” said Grigson. “This was a guy that played left tackle this year for Illinois at a high level. I thought he was the most dominant guard of the Senior Bowl. Really (he) is a great fit as a guard, but started at four different positions except center for Illinois. He really represents all the traits that you could want at the offensive guard spot: size, power, aggression, production and constant finish. The way he plays excites you and it’s kind of, as an offensive lineman, he can set the tone for how the game is meant to be played.”
As a senior in 2012, Thornton started 10-of-11 games, earning All-Big Ten second-team honors by the league’s coaches and an honorable mention selection by the media. He also earned the Illinois Point Award as the team’s top offensive lineman.
On the third and final day of the draft, Indianapolis selected center/guard Khaled Holmes in the fourth round with the 121st overall pick. At USC, Holmes appeared in 40 games (37 starts) at center and guard and was credited with 227 knockdowns/key blocks while recording 27 touchdown-resulting blocks. In two seasons at center, he called blocking assignments for an offensive line that yielded only 25.0 quarterback sacks during that 24-game span.
“(Khaled) has played at a high level, smart kid, long arms,” said Grigson. “We brought him in here on a visit and (he has) great maturity. I believe he already has his masters from USC. NFL bloodlines. The kid was so impressive just to talk to, let alone his film. So he has, like all the linemen we look at, we like to have guys that have position versatility just so you can make it through a 16, 20-game season. We keep that in mind with our guys. But again we went with the best pick on our board and the highest pick.”
As a senior in 2012, Holmes started all 12 games and was an All-America honorable mention selection by Sports Illustrated and a consensus All-Pac-12 Conference first-team choice. He was also selected as USC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year and was the recipient of the Trojan Football Alumni Club Award, given to the player with the best grade point average.
Indianapolis then traded with the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round pick and selected defensive tackle Montori Hughes with the 139th overall choice out of the University of Tennessee at Martin. In exchange, the Browns received the Colts fourth-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. Before transferring to UT Martin, Hughes played two years for the University of Tennessee and notched 37 tackles (17 solo), six quarterback pressures, 3.0 tackles for loss, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles in 25 games played (five starts). For his entire career, Hughes appeared in 47 games (23 starts) and recorded 109 tackles (46 solo), 5.0 sacks, 18.0 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback pressures.
“He’s 6-4 and change, 340 pounds and he can move like a cat,” said Grigson. “There are just very few human beings that have that ability. In this defense and he played all three spots at Tennessee Martin. He was a big recruit at Tennessee. He came in here on a visit and knocked everyone’s socks off, looked everyone in the eye and just really made a great impression. His film spoke for itself. Every draft, every year since I’ve been doing this, you find very small handfuls of men and athletes that are this big and can bend and accelerate and decelerate and move laterally like this guy can.”
As a senior in 2012, Hughes earned All-America second-team honors from The Sports Network and was an All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team choice. For the season, he tallied 42 tackles (20 solo), 4.0 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback pressures and a pass deflection. Hughes was also named to the College Football Performance Awards Watch List for defensive ends and defensive tackles.
In the sixth round (192nd overall), the Colts selected safety John Boyett out of the University of Oregon. Boyett appeared in 40 games (35 starts) over his career and totaled 278 tackles (182 solo), 30 passes defensed, 10 interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and a half of a sack. As a junior in 2011, he earned All-Pac-12 first-team honors by Phil Steele and was a second-team choice according to Pac-12 coaches. He was also an All-America honorable mention selection from Pro Football Weekly.
“I’ll tell you what, you watch this guy play, he’s a buzz saw,” said Head Coach Chuck Pagano. “He’s a downhill guy. He loves to play. He loves special teams. He’s a guy that, again, we grabbed him at the (NFL) Combine just by chance. He was standing there, we grabbed him and pulled him in. We didn’t have him for a formal, we had a few minutes in between, and this guy just blew us away in about a two-minute interview. You could tell that this guy was very, very passionate about playing this sport, playing football, and what he could bring to the table. So I feel good about John.”
As a freshman in 2009, Boyett finished with a team-high 90 stops, which earned him Freshman All-America first-team honors from CollegeFootballNews.com and Phil Steele. In addition, he became Oregon’s first freshman to lead the Ducks in tackles since defensive records were first accumulated in 1969.
In the seventh round (230th overall), the Colts selected running back Kerwynn Williams out of Utah State University. For his career, Williams finished seventh in school history with 2,515 rushing yards while ranking fifth in yards per carry (6.6) and seventh in rushing touchdowns (22). He also caught 64 passes for 870 yards (13.6 avg.) and five touchdowns, totaled 135 punt return yards on 11 attempts (12.3 avg.) and returned 135 kickoffs for 3,408 yards, the fourth-most by an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision player.
“Chuck and I both loved his tape,” said Grigson. “He’s another guy that’s fast, extremely quick and elusive. He brings a wrinkle to this team that could really help us and that’s as a returner. Our special teams coaches had him rated as one of the best returners in this draft and that got our attention. We studied him and we had scouts going to Utah State and were at his work out. He’s a great kid. He’s exciting to watch as a runner and as a returner. He’s got a lot going for him. We were a little bit surprised he was there. We’re happy to get him because he fills a tremendous need and he’s also got some real value on third down.”
As a senior in 2012, Williams earned All-America honorable mention honors from Sports Illustrated after leading the conference and ranking 13th in the nation in rushing with 116.3 yards per game. He caught a career-high 45 passes and his 697 receiving yards marked the most ever by a Utah State running back in a season. In addition, he became the first player in WAC history to gain 2,000 all-purpose yards in multiple seasons (2,042 in 2010).
For the second consecutive year, the Colts held the final pick in the NFL Draft, known as “Mr. Irrelevant.” With the pick, the Colts selected tight end Justice Cunningham from the University of South Carolina. For his career, Cunningham recorded 50 receptions for 581 yards and one touchdown in 53 games played (23 starts).
“He’s a big body,” said Grigson. “He’s played in a major conference obviously that’s produced some good tight ends. He’s got good hands. Before I put the tape on, in my mind, I already kind of thought what I was going to see. But not only is he a big body that can block and he’ll put his face on you and he’s physical that we’re looking for but this guy has really got some savvy as a receiver. He’s got some quickness and he will make some catches in traffic and will hold on to the football. At that position, if you’re fearless and you’re that competitive to the ball in the air and you can smell the end zone and you want to get in the end zone, those are things you can’t teach. I think he has that. You can see how he plays. He has a swagger and a thirst. The competitiveness you can see and feel when you’re watching this kid. He has that will to be great.”
In 2012, Cunningham was named a team captain and finished the year with career highs of 23 receptions for 324 yards. In South Carolina’s victory over Tennessee, he totaled career highs of six receptions for 108 yards, including a career-long 45-yard reception.