INDIANAPOLIS – Saying this year's draft is an important one for the Colts is a statement that could be made to some degree, each and every offseason, for virtually any NFL team.
Yet, this one does hold some serious significance for what the future of the Colts will look like over the next handful of years.
On Wednesday, eight days before the draft hysteria begins, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson met with the media for his annual pre-draft press conference.
Here are some sound bites from Grigson meeting the media on Wednesday:Ryan Grigson on the balance of best player available, versus reaching for a need position:
"I think it's weak, no matter what your needs are, to look at your board and see Player A here and then you have Player B, C and D down here and you're going to go, 'Well, we have to get a need and do that.'
"That defies the whole process. I think it breaks the trust and the morale of your scouts and all the guys that spent all that time stacking your board with you and all the coaches that went and worked the guys out and went through this exhaustive process."
Bowen's Analysis: The "best player available" philosophy is something you always hear around the NFL. It holds true for the Colts, especially when there's a stark difference between multiple players in the same vicinity of the draft board.
Countless hours goes into the constructing of a team's draft board. After months of work by scouts, the coaches get really involved into the process starting at the Senior Bowl and Combine. Coaches and scouts then attend pro days and private workouts in every corner of the country, while still dissecting collegiate film. Grigson views going against such extensive work as a disservice to assembling a board. The Colts GM did mention on Wednesday that the team has recently completed background checks on potential "character guys." Some players the team was hesitant on taking a few months back have now been cleared to take next week, after copious background work.Ryan Grigson on the offensive line moving forward:
"I feel like we've got to do a better job. I (also) feel like we're in a position to do better."
Bowen's Analysis:* *The Colts currently have eight offensive linemen on their roster (before signing two young offensive tackles later on Wednesday). With 11-on-11 work starting next month, the Colts have to add at least a couple of linemen in the coming week, strictly from a practice bodies standpoint. Of course, the major question is will those linemen come in the draft? And how early might those players be chosen?
Grigson was asked on Wednesday about the difficulty college spread offenses play in evaluating linemen. Nowadays, some offensive linemen play an entire collegiate career without ever getting in a three-point stance or experiencing a pro-style offense. That's why the Colts have sent their offensive line coaches all over the U.S. to hopefully eliminate any guesswork that might be involved in predicting a jump from a spread offense to the NFL. Observing these prospects work out first hand allows one to see if they posses the right qualities to put a hand in the ground as a professional. As far as draft depth in 2016, Grigson likes what each side of the ball has in the trenches this year. He said there are talented pass rushers this year, but many either have the production element on the resume, or the physical attributes to come off the edge. The rare ones have both.
Ryan Grigson on this year's offseason approach:
"I feel like we truly need to have some patience now because we don't have the resources to plug and play.
"When you have only six picks, when you have limited resources, meaning not having an abundance of draft picks, you don't have an abundance of cash, you've got to really knock this (draft) out of the park."
Bowen's Analysis: "Patient" and "prudent." Those were two words that Ryan Grigson used on Wednesday to describe how the Colts have had to operate in 2016. That's what happens when you have a quarterback on the verge of signing a gargantuan contract.
What Grigson needs in 2016 is to build off the 2015 draft class. Last year, the Colts found three picks on Saturday that all went on to start multiple games as rookies. That doesn't happen often. In 2016, around a handful of 2015 draftees could play starting roles. The Colts' success in last year's draft can be attributed to selecting sound/consistent guys, with little ebb and flow in their evaluations. Going forward, finding early contributors (i.e. the Jack Mewhort's and Henry Anderson's) and development of young talent are key for the Colts. Grigson did mention that even though the Colts have six picks this year, they won't just trade down to acquire more picks, if it means passing on quality.