Offensive Line Haul Comes In Bulk During Colts Draft

Intro: With four offensive linemen in this year’s draft class, the Colts took the most guys up front of any team in 2016. Here are Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano giving their thoughts on the 2016 NFL Draft.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Barely a sentence into his post-draft press conference, Ryan Grigson was already smiling.

"Long day but boy, it was fun," the Colts General Manager said minutes after capping off his fifth NFL Draft as GM.

Somewhere outside of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, Andrew Luck likely had his own smile.

Of the Colts' eight draft picks in 2016, four will have the top job description of "Protecting 12" when they report to work later this week.

The Colts biggest offseason need this offseason received four new bodies through the draft, the most linemen the team has picked in a draft in more than 35 years.

"Early on there were a lot of good names up there and we went after them," Grigson said of taking the most offensive linemen of any NFL team in 2016. "The value was pretty much in line on the board at a lot of different position groups.

"We're going to have a really good, competitive Training Camp in a lot of position groups this year, which is a good thing."

Even on the final day of the draft, the Colts' two offensive linemen bring impressive credentials to Indianapolis.

Fifth-round pick Joe Haeg was a four-year starter at North Dakota State (blocked for No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz). Grigson scouted Haeg live in October when NDSU played at Indiana State. A strong Senior Bowl had Haeg as a potential second rounder on the Colts' board.

Then, with the Colts' final pick to 2016, they took Iowa center Austin Blythe. Known for their offensive lines, Iowa gives the Colts yet another Hawkeye. Blythe, a three-time wrestling state champion in high school, was a four-year starter at Iowa and an All-American selection this past season.

The Colts also made sure they found a piece for every level of their defense in the draft.

It was the pick of inside linebacker Antonio Morrison that had Grigson and Chuck Pagano raving on Saturday.

Morrison's intensity will enter the inside linebacker group after back-to-back 100-tackle seasons at Florida, the first such feat for a Gator in more than 20 years.

On the outside of the linebacker group, the Colts' lone addition in the draft came from seventh-round pick Trevor Bates, out of Maine.

The Colts felt like the pass rushers in this year's class came off the board a little bit earlier than expected.

Knowing every need couldn't be solved in the draft, the Colts will try and create pressure by dipping into a multitude of resources this season.

"We weren't just going to take a guy to take a guy if we didn't feel like they could come in and actually contribute in some way," Grigson said of this year's edge class.

"If they weren't going to be able to rush the passer or set an edge or both or even contribute on special teams, then we really had no need for them."

The Colts will now get a chance to get their hands on the 2016 rookie class later this week.

With eight draft picks and around 20 undrafted free agents this year, the Colts will hold a three-day rookie minicamp beginning on Friday.

Phase Two of the team's offseason program also begins on Monday. Individual instruction for veterans can take place on the field.

"It will be really exciting to see these guys, get them out there, watch them move around and watch them interact and compete," Pagano said.

"Hopefully see everything that we saw on tape and why we brought them here. Phase Two means we get our players back on the field. But we got a lot of work to do. I love the position we're sitting in and this team is hungry. They're humble. We are going to just take this thing one day at a time and try to get better one day at a time."

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