INDIANAPOLIS — Mel Kiper Jr. has been regarded as one of the better NFL Draft experts for years, so when he speaks (…or writes) people tend to listen (…or read).
On Friday, the ESPN football analyst continued his annual tradition of taking a look back at his draft class grades for each team that he posts immediately after the NFL Draft, and then issuing "re-grades" based on how those players affected their teams in their rookie seasons.
The piece can be read by clicking here, but you must have ESPN Insider access to read the entire thing. But we'll, of course, provide you with Kiper's thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 2016 draft haul.
First off, Kiper explains that this is obviously "just a fun exercise in seeing how the draft class appears to be shaping up," and that he gave more points to players who contributed to winning teams compared to those who played more because their team's perhaps weren't quite as good.
Also, Kiper considers each team's rookie undrafted free agents they signed after the draft as their class for that year, too. So keep that in mind.
When looking around the AFC South, only one team — the Tennessee Titans (with an "A-") — even stayed put with their post-draft grades. The Houston Texans ("B " to "C ), Colts and Jaguars ("A" to "B"), according to Kiper, all earned slightly worse new grades from Kiper when he took a look back at their respective 2016 rookies' seasons.
Coming out of the 2016 NFL Draft, Kiper gave the Colts' eight-player draft class a "B." He liked how the team "finally made it all about Andrew Luck" by drafting four offensive linemen, including center Ryan Kelly with the 18th-overall pick.
Kiper's new grade for Indy's 2016 draft, however, is a "B-," which he explains by saying, "In short, the Colts got some players out of this rookie class, but it didn't boost the overall product enough to get you excited yet."
As for those offensive linemen, Kiper writes: "The line did get better in 2016, but the problem was that it did better as a run-blocking unit but still often struggled with protection. Ryan Kelly, I thought, was a solid pick and should stick there for a long time. Joe Haeg saw 14 starts, getting time at both guard and tackle. Le'Raven Clark also got some starts. So the Colts did get some O-line help out of this draft, but hopefully the line can still get better."
Kiper notes that the jury is still out on three of the four defensive players taken in last year's draft — safety T.J. Green, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and linebacker Antonio Morrison. Trevor Bates, an outside linebacker who was selected in the seventh round, is no longer on the team.
One might let Kiper know, however, that if he is going to include undrafted rookies into his "re-grades," that the Colts might deserve a little more love — even though his evaluation certainly isn't unfair.
Matthias Farley and Chester Rogers were pretty good finds for the Colts as rookie free agents, especially on special teams. Rogers, who eventually took over returner duties after a season-ending injury to Quan Bray, also stepped up as a receiver, catching 19 passes for 273 yards — an average of 14.4 yards per catch.
Now that Indy has a new general manager, Chris Ballard, in town, as well as seven available draft picks in the first five rounds of this year's draft, it'll be interesting to see who lands on the Colts' roster — and what Kiper thinks of the picks.
We'll be sure to bring you those evaluations as soon as they are available.
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.