INDIANAPOLIS – The "off" part of the NFL offseason doesn't apply this time of year.
For the Colts, players have returned to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to begin their eight-week offseason program.
The current group of Colts will have more than a dozen new faces join them in about 10 days, after the culmination of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Ryan Grigson held his pre-draft press conference on Thursday afternoon and touched on several draft questions, along with some key injury concerns heading into OTAs.
Vick Ballard: The timetable Ballard laid out yesterday was a Training Camp target date. Grigson touched more on the mental/confidence challenge that Ballard must face, and overcome, to get back to the player that was a productive rookie running back in starting the final 11 games of 2012.
Gosder Cherilus: The biggest takeaway from Grigson's press conference on Thursday was the news on Cherilus. June is the target date for Cherilus to return (maybe sooner). If Cherilus is healthy in 2015 (and can return to his 2013 form), that would go a long way in solving the Colts right tackle worries. Offensive tackle has been a popular spot for the Colts in mock drafts so a healthy Cherilus would tend to alleviate that need early in the draft.
Ulrick John: John, who looks like a completely different person after a year in an NFL weight room, is recovering from a fibula injury and will be full-go for Training Camp. He's definitely an intriguing piece behind Anthony Castonzo and Cherilus.
Donald Thomas: It's a wait and see approach on Thomas as he is taking part in the Colts offseason program. Grigson calls Thomas (still) one of the strongest guys on the roster.
Grigson on the safety position in the 2015 draft class:
"We've been digging and going through every single player. The further down you get on your board the more warts appear with those spots. There might be a guy that plays his tail off and you love the film, but then you look at the height, weight, speed and he ran 4.9 (40-yard dash), so you're like, 'How am I going to draft a 4.9 safety?' There might be a guy that plays lights out, but he's only 185 pounds. You're going to have significant drawbacks in some of those guys later."
Bowen's Analysis: Credit Grigson for being candid in breaking down the positions for this year's draft class. Grigson's comments on Thursday pretty much backed up what most draft pundits have shared on the safety position. It's Landon Collins and everyone else. Grigson says Collins "can do it all" but there is a drop off after him. In recent mock drafts, Collins has been steadily dropping, as far as the mid-to-late 20s. If that happens next Thursday, the Colts will be one to watch in the Collins department. An interesting tidbit Grigson shared on the evaluation of the safety position is how that position has become more of a "free safety" look in recent years (the pass happy NFL has to have played into this).
Grigson on balancing taking the best player available versus need:
"I think it's a balance. Say we are quote on quote 'deep' at a spot, but there's an undeniable talent there, then yes, you can call us stockpile-rs. But if you have guys that are all kind of aligned on your board and there's a position of need staring you in the face and those players are of equal value on the board, then you're going to do what common sense says and take that player."
Bowen's Analysis: This is about the most honest a GM can be about how a draft operates. The Colts are clearly going to have an eye on their needs at all points throughout the draft. For example, at No. 29, if the Colts have their No. 23, 25 and 27 prospects still available and the positions for those players are quarterback, wide receiver and defensive line---this comment from Grigson indicates that the need position (defensive line) would be the tiebreaker here.Grigson on the 2015 running back draft class:
"I think it's strong and there are a lot of different types of backs. There's one that we call a freeway type runner, that don't have a lot of shake and bake, or make you miss, or creativity, but if there's a lane, they can hit their head on the goalpost because they have really great top end speed and big play ability. There's those big play runners in the draft. There's those grinders in the draft. There's those third-down complementary guys in the draft. It's nice to see."
Bowen's Analysis: One common theme from Grigson today was the "value" he sees in these running back and wide receiver draft classes. While taking one in the first round might draw some major fan interest next Thursday, there's certainly plenty of depth in those spots this year. The Colts have found quality in being patient at those skill positions under Grigson (Vick Ballard-fifth round, T.Y. Hilton-third round, Donte Moncrief-third round). In listening to Grigson on Thursday, he is definitely a fan of the defensive line draft class in 2015, along with the skill positions mentioned above.