Colts Draft Strategy: Need or Best Available Player?

Ryan Grigson says his scouts and Chuck Pagano are looking for starters, no matter what round of the draft.

INDIANAPOLIS --- The Colts have the 29th pick in the first round of Thursday night's NFL Draft, which means General Manager Ryan Grigson will be waiting deep into the night to be on the clock, but at his pre-draft press conference last Thursday, Grigson offered some insight on whether he's more inclined to take the best player available regardless of position or fill a specific need on the roster.

"The best player available mentality is I think the healthiest mentality to have especially when I feel like for the most part, the roster looks pretty balanced," said Grigson, explaining even if a position is not looked at as an area of need now, it can still become one during the preseason. "It's not just a big talent grab. You have to be pretty specific and again, a lot of times, you really hope and pray that somebody you thought would be at picks 15 through 20 falls to that spot at the bottom of the draft because other areas I feel are pretty deep. We're hoping that happens and we don't get stuck."

When Grigson says it's not just a big talent grab, he also means it's not completely about taking the best available player. A prospect's character plays a part in the decision as well. If it's poor enough, the Colts don't even consider that player.

"There's a lot of things that factor. There's guys that are off the board for character," explained Grigson. "You just never know. There are times where I've been so sure about somebody, even from a character standpoint where I've been so sure about a guy, and then they come in and you're like, 'Who is this person?' Money can change people. A situation can change people."

When you get to the later rounds, sometimes it becomes a study of talent versus character in the Colts draft war room, because Grigson says head coach Chuck Pagano and him are still looking for starters at that point, not back-ups.

"It's tough because when you get down in those later rounds, a lot of times you are staring at some talent but you are going to have to deal with a few headaches here and there," said Grigson. "You can deal with headaches, just not migraines. We are trying to avoid migraines, okay? That's just the nature of the beast with this draft."

And with how talented the Colts offense is right now, is this a draft where a tie will go to a defensive player?

"I'm sure that Chuck (Pagano) would want the ties to go to the defense, but he's great," joked Grigson, before telling the story of Pagano endorsing Grigson's decision in the war room to take two tight ends back-to-back in 2012 (Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen). "'Grigs, let's take the best player on the board, man.' When we get really down to brass tacks, he's on board with best player available. It's really hard. We just won't do it. We really, really needed a corner in (the third round) that year but when Dwayne's (Allen) up there on the board right here and your corner is down here, that just goes against (my philosophy)."


Because in the end, Ryan Grigson draws on his experience when that clock is running down to get the pick in.

"If I wasn't a scout, maybe I wouldn't have a problem with it," said Grigson. "But I just don't understand that type of thinking when you put so much time and effort and miles in the air, by ship and by car, it doesn't make any sense to not stick to your board."

Conclusion? Best Player Available > Need

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