INDIANAPOLIS – While the offense was focused on one position for the Colts this draft, the defensive love was spread around the entire group.
The Colts' four defensive picks last week addressed every level of the unit, with the team continuing to get younger on that side of the ball.
Here's a capsule look at the Colts four defensive selections in 2016:
*Round 2, Pick 57: Clemson Safety T.J. Green (6-3, 205) *-2015 Stats: 15 games played (15 starts). Third on the team with 130 tackles (102 solo), five tackles for loss, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and 1.0 sack.
-Career Stats: 26 games played (13 starts) in three seasons. 162 career tackles (124 solo), 1.0 sack, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one interception
-Interesting Fact: Green's 4.34 40-yard dash was the fastest of any safety at the NFL Combine in more than a decade.
-Green's Quote to Note (on his elite speed): "It's just going to come with my range at safety just getting from sideline to sideline. I feel like I can move fast and as a safety can cover the field. To come from one side of the field to the other the way I can is just a big advantage for a defense. It allows you to play a lot of one-high safety and it's just a big advantage."
-Chuck Pagano's Thoughts: "He's got a huge ceiling. Moving over to the defensive side of the ball as a former wide receiver that is just going to grow and grow and grow as he learns. He is going to be able to come in and play behind a Mike Adams and Clayton (Geathers). Ryan (Grigson) mentioned it, be a four core special teamer and stand out there. But he's got all the athleticism, all the length, he's got the speed and he's got range. I went to his pro day. They had a lot of players obviously and he had a special day. He was really good. You don't find athletic guys like this that can move around and cover the ground that he can cover in the deep parts of the back end and the ball skills are really off the charts."
-Outlook: Green is part of the transformation we are seeing in the game of football. The days of a stouter framed box safety has migrated into the need for rangy guys that bring cover traits. That's what the Colts see in the raw Green. His size and Combine numbers are extremely rare for the safety position. Pagano alluded to the grooming process for Green. The Colts have the luxury where Green doesn't need to come in and start 'X' amount of games as a rookie. Special teams work and maybe some nickel/dime package looks is the likely first-year workload for Green. But with Mike Adams 35 years old, a Green/Clayton Geathers starting safety duo is in the near future.**
Round 4, Pick 116: Texas Defensive Tackle Hassan Ridgeway (6-3, 314) **-2015 Stats: 11 games played (8 starts). 36 tackles (24 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
-Career Stats: 36 games played (18 starts) in three seasons. 92 tackles (58 solo), 9.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one pass defensed.
-Interesting Fact: Per Pro Football Focus, Ridgeway had the fifth best pass rush productivity among interior defensive linemen in this year's draft class.
-Ridgeway's Quote to Note (on being a former defensive end): "I feel like that's my game coming from a defensive end, getting bigger, I've got a little bit more quickness than some of the bigger guys that started playing defensive tackle. That's helped me with my pass rush, and I do feel like that's part of my game."
-Chuck Pagano's Thoughts: "He played all across the defensive line at Texas so he's got flexibility as far as the position that he's going to play. He'll be an interior guy for us."
-Outlook: The smile on Hassan Ridgeway's face wasn't going anywhere after the Colts gave him that call on Saturday afternoon. The Colts met with Ridgeway at the Combine but had minimal contact with him after that. Ridgeway's ability to affect the passer from the defensive interior is quite appealing. How much the Colts will rely on Ridgeway is going to likely depend on the health of Arthur Jones and Henry Anderson. If those two can return to full health, Ridgeway might be used more situationally on passing downs. It was a very deep defensive line class in 2016 so you knew the Colts were going to dive into that pool at some point.**
Round 4, Pick No. 125: Florida Inside Linebacker Antonio Morrison (6-1, 232) **-2015 Stats: 14 games played (14 starts). Team-leading 103 tackles (42 solo), 2.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one forced fumble.
-Career Stats: 47 games played (37 starts) in four collegiate seasons. 294 career tackles (126 solo), 4.5 sacks, two passes defensed, three forced fumbles, one interception.
-Interesting Fact: With 100-tackle seasons in 2014 and 2015, Morrison became the first Florida player to accomplish that feat since 1992-93.
-Morrison's Quote To Note: "I'm tough and I'm physical. I love the contact part of the game. That's why I play the game. I just love hitting people. I love contact and I just love the bond you build with people for a common goal and that's winning."
-Chuck Pagano's Thoughts: "When we talk about getting mindset guys and guys that love to play this game and guys that play with great passion and great energy, the great defensive players that we've been fortunate to be around, this guy is special. When he came in here for his top-30 visit, he wasn't at the combine. We all know that. He was scheduled to be there and he couldn't go because – he talked about the staph infection that he got. He's sitting there and had to have a port put in his chest. Three times a day they came in and put antibiotics in him for six weeks and then he got the port pulled out four days before his pro day. They told him, 'Do not do your pro day.' The guy is such a great competitor he said, 'I do not care what I run. It doesn't matter. Just put the tape on and whoever takes me is going to get a great football player,' and he used some other adjectives that I will not use in this room (laughs). He went in there basically on four days after laying on his back and fighting off that staph infection because he had a couple screws taken out of his foot, I believe is what he told me. The guy is a great competitor. You just put the tape on and after a couple plays it's like, 'Wow.' He's a wow guy and he popped on the tape. Believe me, whatever time you have on him, he does not play that. We've been around a lot of guys that run 4.4 and play at 4.8, so this guy plays a lot faster than his timed 40 time. It'll be great, great competition when he comes in here."
-Outlook: Of the five drafts Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have had together, Morrison has to be up there in the excitement level from the Colts' brass. How Morrison plays the game of football is the type of intensity the Colts want to see, particularly from the middle of their defense. Indianapolis was the last top-30 visit for Morrison (out of eight teams) and the Chicago native loved the connection he made with this staff. Morrison's 103-tackle season came after a torn LCL and ACL in January of 2015, forcing him to stay at Florida for another season and not leave early for the draft. The Colts lost Jerrell Freeman in free agency and while they have former NFL starters already in competition next to D'Qwell Jackson, Morrison is going to have a chance to play, as well.**
Round 7, Pick 239: Maine Linebacker Trevor Bates (6-2, 245) **-2015 Stats: 11 games played (11 starts). 57 tackles (31 solo), 7.5 sacks, two passes defensed, one forced fumble.
-Career Stats: 46 games played (34 starts) in four collegiate seasons. 207 tackles (106 solo), 19.0 sacks, 10 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, three interceptions.
-Interesting Fact: Playing defensive end as a junior, Bates had seven passes defensed, three interceptions to go along with 5.5 sacks.
-Bates' Quote To Note: "I'm violent and very, very relentless with my effort. I think that's something that sticks out on my film and in my style of play."
-Ryan Grigson's Thoughts: "I tell you what, as long as I've been doing this, and I started out in the Northeast as an entry-level scout, it just always seems like there's one guy every year from Maine. We got on him early. He was one of our top-30 visits. We sent Coach (Jim) Herrmann out to Orono, Maine on some like 20-seat plane. I said if he likes him he must really like him. It's not easy to get to Orono. Usually guys don't even go in there. They scout at other programs that are four hours south of there. He really liked him. He's got a motor on tape. We feel like he's going to be an excellent special teamer. He plays lights out and he's got position flex as well at the linebacker position. He's a guy that can do a lot of different things for us."
-Outlook: The Colts weren't just going to take a pass rusher to take one in 2016. Finding a young edge guy remains a need for the Colts and the team hopes Bates and some intriguing undrafted free agents can provide options moving forward. Chuck Pagano spoke on Saturday how the Colts will rely on multiple areas to pressure quarterbacks this year---Robert Mathis leading the way, plus better secondary coverage and creative schemes from new coordinator Ted Monachino. While Mathis could be back around double-digits in sacks, two years removed from the Achilles' injury, the Colts know developing Bates would be ideal with Erik Walden and Trent Cole joining No. 98 in contract seasons.