INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts entered the 2014 draft with five picks and for the first time in three years under Ryan Grigson, the team came out of the draft without any trades to supplement the selection process.
After maneuvers in prior drafts landed T.Y. Hilton and Montori Hughes, the Colts came away by adding three offensive and two defensive players.
The club's third-round pick, WR-Donte Moncrief, was the only skill position played drafted, while the Colts stocked their offensive line with second- and seventh-round choices (Jack Mewhort; Ulrick John) and defense with fifth- and six-round choices (DE-Jonathan Newsome; LB-Andrew Jackson).
Saturday saw Indianapolis add Newsome, Jackson and John, talents from less-than Broadway addresses like Ball State, Western Kentucky and Georgia State.
Regardless, Grigson and Chuck Pagano know the team is better now than a few days ago.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 2014 DRAFT PICKS
1/26 To Cleveland for RB-Trent Richardson
4/127 To Cleveland for DT-Montori Hughes
From Baltimore for C-A.Q. Shipley
7b/241 To St. Louis for DB-Josh Gordy
Newsome, 6-3, 236, finished at Ball State after starting his career at Ohio State. He drew at least one comparison to Robert Mathis (also a Colts fifth-round pick) from a veteran analyst.
"He's able to rush the passer. He can bend the edge. He's athletic," said Grigson. "We think he has good flexibility (at) rush or sam. He can really drop, rush. He throws his face in there, can set the edge some."
Newsome was an all-conference performer who had 16.5 sacks and 24 tackles for losses in his last two years.
"This guy's a player," said Grigson. "He played against some pretty good tackles. He's done it against good competition. He can run, a good special teamer. There's a lot of value there."
Newsome was forthcoming about some off-field matters early in his Ohio State days that caused him to reassess his values.
Doing so led him to Ball State and a career revival. Pagano said the organization addressed the matter with Newsome at length in the evaluation process and that everything was settled.
Along with Grigson, Pagano pointed out the team believes in second chances, and the mindset to confront things is far better than not doing so.
"If you're going to eat crow, eat it while it's hot," said Pagano, with seriousness matching his quip.
Jackson started 33-of-37 games at middle linebacker, totaling more than 300 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 43 tackles for losses.
"We knew about him (for) a couple of years," said Grigson. "All (his) grades were high. He's a really tough, hard-nosed player. He's physical, all about business on the field. He plays with an edge. He's a 255-pound thumper. You need to have size in there. You have to stop the run, and he's tailor-made to stop the run. He's cat-quick in a short area."
John was the final selection and fits the club's philosophy of versatility at positions along the line.
"He to me is true left tackle prospect, a developmental guy," said Grigson. "He's also played center and guard. He goes along with the theme. He's competitive, has room to grow. I'd like to see how he looks a year from now in our weight program. We feel he has upside. He has an athletic base. He's kind of an unknown. The athletic core, character and size are there."
Observers of the club targeted safety as a draft need entering the weekend. Both Grigson and Pagano said the pool was not deep enough to merit action.
"Everyone on the outside can't really understand how this works. You don't see the (draft) board (or) watch all the film," said Grigson. "If there's not the players there that you feel are good enough to pick, you can't pick them. If the guys you're looking at possibly drafting, if they're almost the same as you have on your roster, it doesn't make you better.
"There were a small handful of guys we felt we could get, it just didn't happen. It was not a deep safety class. If there was a safety we liked, we would have (taken) one."
Said Pagano, "We've got guys in-house. There will be great competition. You stick to the process and stay true to the board, don't reach and fill a need when the value's not there."
Both echoed the bolstering of the defense up the middle through the draft and free agency will pay dividends for the secondary.
Observers also felt the club should have addressed the center position. The Colts did not retain Samson Satele, and last year's fourth-round pick, Khaled Holmes, played only 12 snaps last year.
"We've done our homework (on Khaled)," said Grigson. "We're the ones who have studied (and) watched all the film and not just 10 YouTube clips. We went into the school, had multiple scouts watch him, had our o-line coach work him out.
"(He had) 37 starts at USC. It's not like it's, 'Whatsamatta U.' It's a good program. Khaled's our center. We're going to be fine."