INDIANAPOLIS – Readers of Colts.com may submit questions during the week and have a chance to have them answered during the middle of each week. Submit your question here.
Here are responses to some of the questions received recently. We thank you for your interest in the Colts. Please make an effort to be concise when submitting a question.
PAYTN C. (from California) I really like the addition of Donte Moncrief, however there was a player I was watching and he didn't get drafted – Terrance Bullitt (Texas Tech). What do you think of him? Would we go after him as an undrafted free agent? I know we have pretty good depth, but he plays safety/LB. He could be a good interchangeable player.
A: I don't know much about him other than he had a 2012 shoulder injury that his coach, Tommy Tuberville, said was unfortunate. Terrance did come back this year, and I have heard a connection between another AFC team and him. Since that team has not identified that publicly and these things can change, I'll leave it at that. You always hope collegiate guys can take that next step. It's a big one, and that's not directed at Terrance or anyone else trying to do what he is attempting.
MICHAEL F. (from Porter Ranch, CA) At the combine, Jonathan Newsome weighed 247. He's now being listed by Colts.com as 236. Any chance (hopefully?) that a typo has found its way in there somehow? Otherwise, we have a shrinking linebacker on our hands! As always, thanks to you and your staff for a great job!
A: Jonathan is not shrinking, and we have him listed at the weight we're given. Sometimes combine weights and those published in media guides differ, but we'll get everyone here and under the thumb of our conditioning staff to make sure players are at the optimal weights. If Jonathan is 247 or 236, don't worry. He'll be fine. He seems to be very interested in joining us. Just so you know, I remember Robert Mathis being interviewed by CBS in 2005 and mentioning in November of that year (two years after he was drafted) that he was 238. I was surprised. I thought he was 245. If Robert was that disruptive at that weight, I hope that eases some of your concern. We'll get Jonathan geared up and ready to roll as a Colt.
TONY C. (from Charleston, SC) Why aren't we able to sign the "best" undrafted free agents? (Especially when we only had five draft picks.) I thought players really wanted to come to the Colts because of our great organization, our playoff team and Andrew Luck.
A: You had attached a link with your letter and I did check out the story. It was a list of free agents available that was compiled by a source at NFL.com. With all due respect to the writer (who I've known for 20 years and respect), it is just an opinion, and I can assure you we brought in a good class among the 19 who we agreed to terms with on Saturday after the draft. Our scouts know the type of players we are seeking. They have the best eyeballs into the matter with their year-long efforts and the relationships they build. The signing period right after the draft is a free-for-all type of deal, but we have a great reputation among agents and players for how we do business and how we develop talent (click here for list of free agents and why they are important). If you look at some of the free agents who have prospered here – Mike Vanderjagt, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt, Dominic Rhodes in the past; Josh McNary, Griff Whalen, Daniel Adongo (click here for Adongo story), Jerrell Freeman under Ryan Grigson – you can see the value we put on this process. We typically hit on free agents every year, so give us the benefit of the doubt. We know what we're looking for, and we certainly have the history of putting the best players on the field, regardless of how they get to Indianapolis. That reputation, plus our culture (Andrew Luck doesn't hurt either) do make us an attractive destination, and our personnel staff does a great job. Thanks for your passion for the team and for being a first-time mailbag contributor.
ROBERT G. (from Baltimore, MD) How are the guys returning from IR (Dwayne Allen, Donald Thomas, Reggie, Vick Ballard, and everyone else)? I'm keeping them in my thoughts hoping they are alright and ready to go. What is next after the draft? What do the rookies do once they arrive in Indy, rookie mini-camp or do they go right in to OTA's? If you could explain that process it'd mean a lot. Excited for the season! In case you haven't heard yet, #FEEDMONCRIEF.
A: The rookies will come in and get their feet on the ground before going through a three-day rookie camp this weekend. We want to give them the best chance possible to get acclimated, meet their coaches, see their veteran teammates, learn the building and, oh, yeah, find the way to the field. I'm kidding there, but it's quite a jump at any age when you're entering a new worksite, and we make it as smooth as we can. One message we impart is how this league has a great history for undrafted players, as well as drafted ones. It doesn't matter how one gets here, it's what he does with the opportunity. Chuck Pagano and his staff have a great reputation of getting the best players on the field, and we will give them every chance to earn their way here. As for Donte, he seems like a pleasant guy. I chatted him up Monday since we're from the same part of the country. I hope he develops and we keep him well-fed (I love the hashtag). Hope that helps explain our protocol. We have a positive, but aggressive, learning environment. As for the returning injured players, they all are doing well. We'll keep them on the proper path to get back, and there appear to be no concerns at this point. Keep them, and the rookies, in your thoughts.
MICHAEL D. (from Indianapolis) The herd mentality of the national media is amazing. The low grades for this year's Colts draft all start with the 'ill-conceived' trade of the #1 pick for Trent Richardson. Let's try this scenario – the trade never happened and TRich was in this draft; Donald Brown, gone via free agency (nice runner, bad pass blocker); Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw, rehabbing from major injuries. With the playoffs dominated by teams with power running backs and TRich being clearly superior to the other backs in the draft, what would the Colts have done? "With the 26th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama." And the national media goes wild!
A: It is amazing to hear all the noise. It all seems to fall in lockstep, and it always has. In my years as PR Director, I always felt we should not overreact to noise when it was bad, nor believe it when it was good. The best thing is to stick to your principles (if they're working, and ours are), keep working and win the end of the argument. Just because running backs have not been prominent picks in the last two drafts, the position is getting panned. Trent will be much different this year. His contributions can help our blueprint terrifically, and I think he'll be fine. We didn't have picks at the top of each round like we did virtually in every one two years ago. When you're picking down in the pack, sometimes opinions are harsher because people have built-up expectations. I have every confidence in Ryan Grigson's and Chuck Pagano's program. They know better than anyone what we need. Can you get everything you want? Nope. That's never part of the deal, but we have played our cards very well with what we have. We will keep doing so, Trent will be fine and the external noise (I say again we're all lucky the league and team has such great attention) will die off. Nice perspective on your part, my man (but let's lay off criticism of Donald).
JIMMY L. (from Plains, GA) Do you have the number Ulrick John will wear? Who scouted him? I had never heard of him.
A: Ulrick is assigned number 68 at the moment. Without identifying who scouted him specifically, we do cast a wide net when looking for players, whether it's smaller colleges, other leagues and other sports as in the case of Daniel Adongo and one of our free agent signees, Erik Swoope (a tight end hopeful who played basketball at the University of Miami). Ulrick was an all-conference performer his last two years at Georgia State, where he was the team's top lineman. He can play any line position and in 2012, he opened at three different spots in the first five games. We like that ability. Ryan Grigson likes his competitiveness and thinks Ulrick (6-8, 290) has room to grow. He was a prep center who played at 240, so it could be that he still is maturing. I hope that helps you on him, and we'll try to shoot some images of him in rookie camp this week if you want to check our website.
MYLES L. (from Richmond, IN) When is rookie mini-camp? Really looking forward to seeing how the draft picks and UDFAs progress.
A: We have a camp for rookies this Friday through Sunday. That will be a three-day process designed just for them. Most of them, hopefully all, will remain and work through OTAs which begin later this month and culminate with a mid-June mini-camp. We'll give updates as we can. Long-time Colts fans have grown accustomed to undrafted free agents making splashes with the club.
LEIF R. (from Ohio) I have been a fan of Bowling Green for many years, and when I saw that the Colts got so many free agents, I remembered that there was a BGSU player that could help the team. He is, intriguingly, a P/LB, Brian Schmiedebusch. He is similar to Andy Studebaker, but with the punting ability. Would the Colts get players that are so versatile as him?
A: I did not see any stats for Brian outside of punting, and I have heard of no connection with him for us or any team. We do like versatility in players. I hope Brian's talents give him a shot to pursue his career beyond BGSU.
BOB M. (from Milwaukee, WI) Regarding the newbies, Mr. Grigson said, "You can't teach 6'2' 220 lbs. with 4.3 speed." True enough, but you also can't teach enthusiasm and character. There are so many off-field intangibles that contribute to a player's success. That's what makes the draft such a crap shoot. Maybe some of Andrew's will rub off on them. Also, just wondering if there had been any thoughts about DHB converting to DB? He sure wow'd them on special teams.
A: There is so much pre-draft screening that you hope to eliminate any personal concerns for a prospect. We do a pretty good job of it, but every team has its exceptions. We value character quite highly, and we think everyone we drafted will represent us well. Andrew is not the only one with traits to spare, but I don't think anyone we brought in through the draft will need a boost and for the free agent crop, we scouted enough of those guys that we should be fine, too. We have a bunch of guys here this week getting acclimated, and all will be here by the weekend. It's a busy time for us. As for DHB, to his credit he did well on special teams. He's now with Pittsburgh, though. Some people have mentioned a position switch from WR to DB for him and others, but that is not a real apples-to-apples skill set that makes such a shift easy. It sounds good, until you really look at it. Thanks for contributing after a bit of a layoff.