INDIANAPOLIS – Hours after concluding the 2014 draft, the Colts have added 19 college free agents (CFAs) not taken among the 256 selections.
Indianapolis has agreed to terms with the following players: cornerback Qua Cox, guard Marcus Hall, center Jonotthan Harrison, defensive end Tyler Hoover, cornerback Kameron Jackson, nose tackle Zach Kerr, quarterback Seth Lobato, cornerback Keon Lyn, safety Dewey McDonald, wide receiver Gregory Moore, defensive end Nnamdi Obukwelu, kicker Cody Parkey, tackle Eric Pike, cornerback Darius Polk, tight end Erik Swoope, wide receiver Eric Thomas, running back Zurlon Tipton, guard Josh Walker and wide receiver Tony Washington.
"It's a big, big part of this process," said Ryan Grigson. "I pointed to our back board the other day to our scouts, 'There's potentially a Hall-of-Famer in these names. There's potentially a Pro Bowler up there.'
"Every day there are success stories of college free agents who weren't drafted and they come into this (league) with a chip on their shoulder. They end up wearing a gold jacket in Canton."
Point-blank in nature, Grigson is not given to hyperbole. History bears his claim.
There have been five undrafted free agents signed by teams since 1967 that had Hall-of-Fame careers – DB-Emmitt Thomas, G-Larry Little, C-Jim Langer, QB-Warren Moon and DT-John Randle.
In the Colts' Indianapolis era, Mike Vanderjagt, the franchise's leading scorer, was undrafted, as was Dominic Rhodes, who starred immediately in 2001 and contributed heavily to the club's long-term success.
Jeff Saturday, Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt were key CFAs, and Saturday (132) is tied with John Unitas for the second-most regular-season wins in franchise history.
Jerrell Freeman, Griff Whalen, Jack Doyle and Josh McNary are CFAs signed by Grigson. Adam Vinatieri (41), the NFL's oldest player and its fifth-leading career scorer (2,006), was a CFA in 1996.
The Colts have a proven heritage in CFA success, and the current culture is one that attracts such newcomers.
"The league gives us a set amount of dollars we can spend," said Grigson. "A lot of times, you might be able to give more money than the next team, but that agent is looking at (our) position group and saying, 'The Colts are loaded at that spot. Why am I going to send him there?'
"The Colts are becoming a destination where people want to play here and be a part of this. It's a credit to our coach. People want to play with Andrew (Luck) and these guys we have here. It's a good (situation). We're kind of an alluring-type team because people know the direction we're headed, and they want to play here.
"There's so much merit in hitting on all cylinders with those CFAs after the draft. They can end up being starters."
CAPSULE INFORMATION ON THE ADDITIONS
Cox, 6-0, 185, finished his senior season at Jackson State with 32 tackles and 12 passes defensed. As a junior in 2012, he led the SWAC with five interceptions and was third in the league with 13 passes defensed. In 2011, he started 11 games and led the team with three interceptions to go along with 35 tackles.
Hall, 6-5, 315, competed in 46 games for the Ohio State offensive line. He started 31 games, including 25 as a junior and senior, during which time the Buckeyes set a school-record winning streak of 24 consecutive games. As a fifth-year senior, Hall started 13-of-14 games and was named an All-Big Ten honorable mention selection.
Harrison, 6-4, 299, appeared in 51 games and made 39 starts in four seasons at Florida. In 2013, he started all 12 games at center and was voted a team captain by his teammates. He was the only Gator offensive lineman to start at the same position in all 12 games.
Hoover, 6-7, 290, played in 48 career games (23 starts) at Michigan State and recorded 93 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. In 2013, he started 11 games and posted career highs in tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (4.0). In 2010, Hoover appeared in all 13 games (nine starts) and tallied a career-high 36 tackles, including 3.0 sacks.
Jackson, 5-9, 175, played in 30 games (14 starts) over three seasons (2011-13) with Cal-Berkeley, posting career totals of 75 tackles, nine passes defensed, four interceptions, two tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. He became the first Bear to record a three-interception game in over 10 years.
Kerr, 6-2, 310, played in 12 games for Delaware in 2013 and totaled 57 tackles (28 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles. In 2012, he earned Second-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) honors after starting 11 games and leading a defensive front that ranked second in the conference in rushing defense (134.2 yards per game).
Lobato, 6-6, 223, is a former college basketball player who walked on at Colorado before transferring to Northern Colorado. In 2013, he threw for 2,725 yards in 10 games while contributing with 16 touchdowns. Lobato totaled a season-high 390 yards and three touchdowns against Colorado State-Pueblo. He averaged 272.5 yards per game while averaging 7.9 yards per completion.
Lyn, 6-1, 190, played in 38 career games at Syracuse and totaled 89 tackles (75 solo), 20 passes defensed, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, two forced fumbles and 1.0 sack. In 2012, he played in all 13 games (10 starts) and tied for seventh in the Big East in interceptions (three) and eighth in passes defensed (10).
McDonald, 6-0, 220, transferred to California University of Pennsylvania from Fairmont State. As a senior captain, he tallied a career-best 89 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions (all returned for touchdowns) and eight passes defensed. His three interception returns for touchdowns made him the first PSAC player to accomplish the feat in over 10 years.
Moore, 6-4, 197, finished 2013 at Lane College with 59 catches for 910 yards and 11 touchdowns en route to All-SIAC accolades. He also had three 100-yard receiving contests. Moore started 10 games as a freshman in junior college at Mesabi Range before transferring to Lane and starting nine contests as a sophomore.
Obukwelu, 6-3, 275, played in 39 games at Harvard and registered 109 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In 2013, he was tabbed the winner of the George "Bulger" Lowe Award as the New England Defensive Player of the Year, while also being named to the All-Ivy first team and the College Sports Madness All-Ivy first team.
Parkey, 6-0, 190, ranks in the top five in all Auburn kicking categories. He finished his senior season making 14-of-19 field goals, 62-of-63 PATs and ranked first in the nation with 69 touchbacks. He totaled an SEC-long streak of 90 consecutive PATs made throughout his career, which ranked seventh in the nation.
Pike, 6-5, 298, was a four-year starter at left tackle for Towson and was a co-captain during his senior season. In 2013, he was named a Football Championship Series All-America selection as the Tigers compiled a 10-2 regular season record while reaching the NCAA FCS Championship Game. Pike also earned All-CAA first-team honors for the second straight season. He capped his collegiate career having started in all 49 games he appeared in.
Polk, 5-11, 190, was named to the All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) second team in 2013 after leading Kent State with seven passes defensed and ranking fourth with 60 total tackles. He was also voted as a defensive captain by his teammates. In 2012, Polk finished the season with 58 tackles, three tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and two interceptions. He earned East MVP honors of the MAC Championship game.
Swoope, 6-5, 220, was a four-year standout on the University of Miami basketball team who is being signed by the Colts as a tight end. Although he has not played organized football at any level of his athletic career, Swoope's athleticism gives him the chance to make the transition to football similar to the path of Marcus Pollard, one of the most popular Colts ever. Pollard played basketball at Bradley. Swope started 27-of-110 games and totaled 291 career points, 186 rebounds, 37 steals, 31 assists and 25 blocks in 1,190 minutes. He connected on 51.9 percent from the field and 57.7 percent from the free throw line.
Thomas, 6-1, 209, is the Sun Belt Conference's all-time leader with 29 career touchdowns, surpassing, T.Y. Hilton's previous record of 24. As a senior, he caught 66 passes for 993 yards and finished the year ranked 10th nationally after catching 12 touchdowns. Thomas led the country at one point in the season with a touchdown reception in eight straight games. He finished his Troy career ranked third all-time in school history with 197 receptions, third with 2,655 career receiving yards and second with 29 touchdown receptions.
Tipton, 6-0, 221, ranks fourth in Central Michigan history with 34 career rushing touchdowns. As a senior, he was named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List while earning the 2013 CMU Gridiron Gladiator Award. As a team captain last season, Tipton rushed for 398 yards on 74 attempts while leading the team with a 5.4 yards per rush average and eight touchdowns.
Walker, 6-5, 323, was an All-Conference USA selection in 2013 at Middle Tennessee State and never missed a game throughout his collegiate career. In 2012, he earned honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference (SBC), Third-Team All-SBC by CollegeSportsMadness.com and Second-Team All-SBC by Phil Steele. He started all 12 games and was part of a line that tanked second in the nation in fewest sacks allowed, while also paving the way for three different 100-yard rushers.
Washington, 5-11, 200, competed in 49 collegiate games and totaled 139 receptions for 1,837 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also contributed with 13 carries for 90 yards and two scores. Washington ranks eighth in school history in both receptions (139) and receiving yards (1,837). He enjoyed a breakout season as a senior in 2013, when he led the SoCon with 939 receiving yards and ranked second with 64 receptions, en route to all-conference first-team recognition.