News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 25, 2013

Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft

Tom James
Tribune-Star correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.

The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.

There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.

As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.

“If there’s not a player sitting there at 24 that the room is not excited about and we’re not high-fiving and things like that and we’re not even doing a little fist bump, we probably shouldn’t take that guy,” Grigson admitted last week.

“We’re going to probably look to trade out if there’s a player there we feel is just OK. We want players at that spot, especially in the first round, that are going to substantially help us get to our goal.”

Indianapolis has six overall draft picks to use: first round (24th overall), third round (86th), fourth round (121st), sixth round (192nd) and two in the seventh round (230th and 254th).

The Colts have only one compensatory pick, that coming with the team’s second selection in the seventh round. It’s the final pick of the draft, giving Indianapolis the Mr. Irrelevant selection for the second year in a row.

Compensatory picks are awarded to NFL teams that lose more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires the previous year. The number of picks a team may receive equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.

“I like having that pick. I feel like that’s still a spot in the draft. It’s very relevant to us, that pick. We hope to get a player there who has starter traits, just like we would at any other spot,” Grigson said.

Indianapolis drafted former Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish with the final pick of the 2012 draft.

• Good or bad draft? — Time will tell just how good, or deep, this year’s crop of available players may be.

“Really it’s so hard to say that it’s not a glamorous draft or whatever because we are not going to know for a few years what these guys are anyway,” Grigson pointed out. “For the most part, you are not going to know for a little while. But I would say, the game is won and lost in the trenches and this is a really good trench draft. I think there’s a lot of good players on both sides of the ball in terms of [offensive and defensive] linemen.”

Other than the quarterback position, all bets are off on which areas the Colts will try to fortify through the draft this year. Indianapolis added 10 veteran free agents over the last month. As many as eight could end up starting. So the “need” factor may not be in play as much as it was a year ago.

“I think you look at each position group and if someone dynamic comes along, if you have guys who can do their job at a high level, of course you say, ‘We don’t really need to focus in that area.’ Again, this league is a tough league to win in. If someone comes along who is special in any way, then you want to have that discussion,” the Colts’ general manager said.

“The more great, dynamic players you have, the more a guy can do for you, is obviously the more he can do for your won-loss column. I’d say yes. I’d say regardless of position, there’s always going to be a conversation if a great player is sitting there, someone we think is special.”

When preparations for the draft initially began last fall, there were more than 12,000 names to sift through. As of last week, that list had been pared down to approximately 300.

• Winning the draft — Grigson and the team’s scouting department scored high marks for the job they did in adding players through last year’s draft. Repeating that success will be tough.

This year, the goal will be to supplement the roster, especially in the middle and late rounds.

“It’s not necessarily where you have the guys at the bottom of your board,” Grigson said. “Those are the guys you want to go grab. You want to go grab the guys who are still sitting up there like the board’s been picked through like a three-day turkey. That’s what my old boss used to say. [Finding] those guys who are just sitting out there. just staring at you. Those are the guys you want to get late.

“The guys you had the second-round grades or third-round grades on and you take them down there at sixth, that’s the hope. Again, we don’t want to ever reach down in the bowels of our board for need or just to pick a player. We want to get someone we are excited about who can help us.”

• Remembering last year — Quarterback Andrew Luck, the NFL’s top pick a year ago, has a tough time remembering what all occurred when he faced a national audience at last year’s draft.

“The night before the draft, to be honest, I can’t remember it,” Luck said with a laugh Wednesday. “In my case, I sort of knew what was going to happen. That maybe took a little bit of the anxiety, apprehension out of it. It is still very, very exciting. For all of the guys in New York, it’s fun. For all of the guys at home, or at school, or wherever they might be, it’s a very interesting day.”

He expects to spend this evening monitoring the draft, although he won’t be watching the entire time.

“As a fan of football, I’ll be watching the draft. I don’t know if I have the patience to sit down on a couch for however many hours it’s going to take,” he said. “But yeah, I’ll definitely be watching to see who we take, see some of my [former] teammates at Stanford. Hopefully they get a chance to go somewhere. But yeah, I’ll be interested in it.”

• Local watchlist — A few former Indiana State players could find themselves in the mix either as late-round draft picks or signed as undrafted free agents.

Tight end/fullback/H-Back Michael Mardis opened some eyes at the recent Super Regional Combine in Dallas, as did linebacker Ryan Roberts. Defensive end/outside linebacker Ben Obeseki has drawn the attention of a handful of teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars. Punter Lucas Hileman, cornerback Johnny Towalid and inside linebacker Aaron Archie also expected to get a few looks.

Two members of the Sycamores’ football coaching staff will be following the draft as well. Fresno State outside linebacker Travis Brown is the younger brother of ISU defensive-line coach Eric Brown. Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, a potential first-round selection, was coached in junior college by Sycamores running-backs coach Jayden Everett.