INDIANAPOLIS – A winning tradition in Indianapolis started taking shape in 1998 with the selection of Peyton Manning first overall, and it further evolved in 1999 with the drafting of Edgerrin James fourth overall.
Pairing those talents with Marvin Harrison and others allowed the Colts to take flight and create an extended run of success that ranks among the all-time NFL best.
Ryan Grigson grabbed the Colts' throttles in 2012 and made move-after-move to return the club to elite status.
Andrew Luck was taken first overall, and Grigson's initial draft class amassed a yardage total not accomplished by any in the NFL's last 40 seasons.
His acquisitions and retentions of key veteran free agents and the defensive acumen of Chuck Pagano helped the Colts bounce back to 11-5, and Grigson's second season saw an accumulation of veteran and rookie talent added to the mix.
Three key components were taken from the team in the last seven days by injury – Donald Thomas, Dwayne Allen and Vick Ballard – but the non-stop push to win triggered Grigson into action Wednesday as the Colts landed Trent Richardson in a trade for next year's first-round pick.
"We have a commitment to win," said Grigson. "That goal is something we strive for regardless of circumstances. That's how we roll."
Richardson was taken two slots behind Luck, giving Grigson the first and third overall choices taken in his rookie draft as a general manager.
The pairing of Luck and Richardson conjures thoughts of the backfield combination added with Manning and James years ago. The thought of the original Indianapolis "Triplets" that included Harrison also can be had by the presence of T.Y. Hilton, but history will have to be the judge of comparison.
What reality is is that Richardson, who reset Cleveland rookie records in rushing yards (950) and touchdowns (11) previously done by Jim Brown in 1957, will complement Luck and an offense that is intent on running the ball.
"We need people who can get us yards. We're going to run the football," said Grigson. "Trent has proven he can run it. He makes us better."
Richardson was a dominant performer at Alabama, holding a 5.8 career average on 540 rushes (3,130 yards). He burst for 35 touchdowns on the ground, yet was nimble enough to have 68 receptions for 730 yards and seven scores. Richardson was a member of two national title squads (2009, 2011).
Grigson loves production and character, yet he pursues players only with "Colts traits," thus the aggressive move.
"He loves the game. That is evident in his play and from what all his former coaches and teammates say about him going way back in his career," said Grigson. "He is extremely competitive and physical, rarely goes down on first contact, and that's due to a host of things including athletic ability, suddenness, power (and) size, but mainly his determination and grit as a runner."
Richardson finished a prep career at Pensacola's Escambia High School by rushing for 2,090 yards and 26 scores, twice topping 400 yards in a game. In addition to Richardson, the school also produced Dallas great Emmitt Smith.
The Colts were intent to take Luck with the top pick a year ago and though Richardson was available, the firm direction in which the club was headed meant the back would go elsewhere.
"We didn't have two early 1's (first-round picks), so we obviously didn't spend a whole lot of time on him," said Grigson. "It was kind of like, 'Man, this guy's good and someone is going to get a stud,' but you move on to the next player to watch because you know he won't be anywhere near the second round when we pick.
"In reality he is the first pick in draft if those QB's (Luck, Robert Griffin III) don't come out."
Selecting third, Cleveland nabbed Richardson, whose talents supported the draft slot.
"There's so much to like (about him). There's a reason why (Richardson) was taken third overall. That doesn't (occur) by happenstance," said Grigson. "He's done it at a high level his whole life. He plays the game the way it's meant to be played.
"He was born to run the football. He's a powerful back, a back that can avoid tacklers or run over them. He can catch the ball. He adds an element on third down. He's got a pretty broad skill set in a very compact 220-pound frame who happens to run a 4.48 (40-yard dash)."
Grigson never stops looking for talent. It could be in this league or the various others which he combs to build Indianapolis. The Colts now are a stronger team than 24 hours ago and with paint drying, Grigson says it really has not sunk in yet that he has two of the first three players taken in his rookie GM draft now on board.
"No, it really hasn't," said Grigson. "We're just trying to get the best possible players that give us the best chance to win, regardless of daily circumstances that may arise. That is a commitment Chuck and I have made to our owner."