A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Indianapolis added five players — Southern Cal center/offensive guard Khaled Holmes, Tennessee Martin nose tackle/defensive tackle Montori Hughes, Oregon strong safety John Boyett, Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams, and South Carolina tight end Justice Cunningham — over the final four rounds of this year’s draft, giving the Colts seven new roster additions over the last three days.
Defensive end/outside linebacker Bjoern Werner (Florida State) and offensive guard/offensive tackle Hugh Thornton (Illinois) were taken during the first two rounds Thursday and Friday.
“Collectively, we got really good football players [Saturday],” Colts second-year general manager Ryan Grigson said in reviewing his newest draft class. “Guys that love the game. Guys that love to compete. Guys that were productive in college. And happened to fill some needs at the same time. We got guys that we all think have chances to start from the fourth all the way down to the seventh round. We feel great about what we did [Saturday] as a staff.”
Staying true to the draft board brought success a year ago. The same game plan was followed this weekend as well.
“We stayed true to our [draft] board at the end of the day. Sometimes [head coach Chuck Pagano] would remind me of it. Other times I would remind him of it,” Grigson recalled.
“You start looking at every angle. You’ve got stick to your board like we did last year. And that’s what we did this year. We feel good that we stayed disciplined. You end up feeling pretty good at the end of the day because you stayed disciplined to your board.”
Indianapolis added two defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, a strong safety, a running back/kick returner and a tight end. The Colts traded a fourth-round pick in 2014 to Cleveland in order to gain an additional draft pick in the fifth round.
Here is a closer look at the team’s 2013 draft picks:
• Round 1/24 – Bjoern Werner, OLB/DE, 6-3, 266, Florida State
High-motor player who should push for a starting role as a rookie. Good size, athletic skills. Plays faster than his 40 time. Expected to be disruptive at the point of attack. Still raw in some areas but has a great upside. Should fill the Terrell Suggs role in the Colts’ hybrid 3-4 defensive package.
• Round 3/86 – Hugh Thornton, OG/OT, 6-3, 320, Illinois
Versatile offensive lineman who is expected to play guard. Started most of last season at offensive tackle for the Illini but will get a long look at guard for Indy. Colts targeted Thornton early. Was recruited to Illinois and coached by current Indy offensive line coach Joe Gilbert.
• Round 4/121 – Khaled Holmes, C/OG, 6-3, 302, Southern California
Another versatile offensive lineman who can play all three inside positions. Primarily a center but can also be efficient as a guard. Played most of the 2012 season with a high ankle injury. Holmes will get looks at both center and guard during rookie camp and during organized team activity workouts before a decision is made about where he will eventually play. His father, who now works for the Saudi royal family, played at Michigan and older brother was a tight end at Southern Cal. He is the brother-in-law of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
• Round 5/139 – Montori Hughes, DT/NT, 6-4, 329, Tennessee-Martin
Colts traded a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft to Cleveland for the opportunity to select Hughes. Indy did not have a fourth-round selection prior to the trade. Hughes has experience in both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes. Can play nose tackle and defensive tackle. Reminds Colts coaches of Ravens NT Haloti Nagta. Began collegiate career at Tennessee before playing his final season at Tennessee-Martin.
• Round 6/192 – John Boyett, SS, 5-9, 204, Oregon
Played in just one game during the 2012 season after suffering tears in the patellar tendons in both knees. Led team in tackles in 2010 and 2011, recording 108 tackles with 67 solos as a junior in 2011. Played through most of his junior season with his patellar tendon issues. Pagano and Grigson both referred to Boyett as a “buzzsaw” for his playing style.
• Round 7/230 – Kerwynn Williams, RB/KR, 5-7, 196, Utah State
Speedy offensive back who may end up returning punts and kickoffs for the Colts. Was an all-purpose back in college. Excels at running between the tackles. Shows good burst at the line of scrimmage. Was considered the best kickoff and punt returner remaining on the Colts’ draft board. Position coach at Utah State was current Indiana State head coach Mike Sanford.
• Round 7/254 – Justice Cunningham, TE, 6-3, 258, South Carolina
Mr. Irrelevant for 2013. Was the final player selected in the draft. Gives the Colts additional depth at the tight end position. He is the third tight end drafted by Indy over the last two seasons. A strong blocker and receiver, Cunningham should fit in well in Indy’s new offensive system. Aggressive as a receiver. Has ability to go up and get the football in a crowd.
• Draft notes — Indianapolis has reportedly signed a few undrafted free agents, although the complete list has not been officially announced by the team. Sam Houston State cornerback Daxton Swanson, Temple placekicker Brandon McManus, Baylor wide receiver Lanear Simpson, Boston College offensive lineman Emmett Cleary, and Montana fullback Dan Moore are three names that have leaked out.
Six Notre Dame players were selected overall: tight end Tyler Eifert (first round, Cincinnati), linebacker Manti Te’o (second round, San Diego), safety Jamoris Slaughter (sixth round, Cleveland), running back Theo Riddick (sixth round, Detroit), defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (sixth round, Baltimore), and safety Zeke Motta (seventh round, Atlanta).
Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short was selected in the second round by Carolina. Boilermaker cornerback J.J. Johnson inked an undrafted free agent deal with San Diego. Running back Akeem Shavers agreed to a free-agent contract with Tampa Bay.
Also, Brownsburg’s Chris Jones, a defensive tackle from Bowling Green, went to Houston in the sixth round. Illinois State linebacker Nate Palmer, meanwhile, was a sixth-round pick by Green Bay, Southern Illinois long-snapper Jason Stegman signed a free-agent contract with New England. Salukis outside linebacker Jayson Dimanche signed with Cincinnati. Youngstown State running back Jamaine Cook inked a undrafted free agent deal with Cleveland.
A pair of Illinois State players, safety Ben Ericksen and quarterback Matt Brown, have also agreed to free agent deals with Green Bay. Redbirds linebacker Evan Frierson signed with Houston. Missouri State offensive lineman Randy Richards agreed to a free-agent contract with San Diego. Western Kentucky tight end Jack Doyle, who is from Indianapolis, inked a free-agent contract with Tennessee.
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
- Pro Sports
Jefferson, Bobcats top Pacers
Al Jefferson had a pretty good inkling it was Charlotte’s night when he banked in a 31-footer from well beyond the top of the key to beat the shot clock midway through the fourth quarter.
Thompson's last-second jumper lifts Warriors over Pacers in Indy
Klay Thompson made a 12-foot turnaround jumper with 0.6 seconds left, and the Golden State Warriors held off Indiana 98-96 Tuesday night to hand the Pacers only their fourth home loss this season.
Thompson scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. Stephen Curry finished with 19 points for the Warriors, who have won five of six.
Turner scores 13 in Pacers' debut as Indiana tops Los Angeles
Paul George scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, Evan Turner had 13 points in his Pacers debut, and Indiana beat the Los Angeles Lakers 118-98 on Tuesday night.
Indiana improved its league-leading record to 43-13.
West posts season-high 30 in Pacers' win at Milwaukee
Paul George scored 32 points and David West tied a season high with 30, helping the Indiana Pacers hang on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 110-100 on Saturday night.
Lance Stephenson added 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Pacers, who had lost three of their previous five games. Stephenson scored seven straight points to open the fourth quarter.
Love has 42 points, 16 boards, Wolves beat Pacers
Kevin Love had 42 points and 16 rebounds, Ricky Rubio added a career-high 17 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat Paul George and the Indiana Pacers 104-91 on Wednesday night.
J.J. Barea scored 12 points off the bench as the Wolves took control early against the Eastern Conference leaders.
George scores 26 to lead Pacers over Hawks
Paul George scored 26 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 108-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.
David West had 17 points and Lance Stephenson added 13 to help the Pacers beat the Hawks for the second time in three meetings this season.
White Sox open camp looking to shake off misery
The stark reminder of how far the Chicago White Sox fell last season was on a wall behind Chris Sale as he fielded questions in a hallway at the team’s spring training complex.
There was a large photo from the team’s championship rally in 2005. Last season, they looked as though they were light years from a title.
Ellis, Nowitzki hand Pacers third home loss of season
Monta Ellis had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points as the Dallas Mavericks handed the Indiana Pacers their third home loss of the season, 81-73 on Wednesday night.
Pacers roll past short-handed Nuggets 119-80
David West scored 25 points in less than 27 minutes and Roy Hibbert added 14 as the NBA’s top team dominated the middle and blew past short-handed Denver 119-80 for its most lopsided win this season.
Hill scores 37, leads Pacers to win over Blazers
George Hill had a career-high 37 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 118-113 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
David West scored a season-high 30 points and had 10 rebounds and Paul Geoege added 17 points for the Pacers (39-10), who have won 5 of 6 games.
Pacers snap streak of 12 straight regular-season losses in Atlanta
It's over. This time, the Indiana Pacers had a successful regular-season trip to Atlanta.
David West scored 22 points, Paul George added 18 and the NBA-leading Pacers beat the Hawks 89-85 on Tuesday night.
Second-half surge lifts Pacers over Magic
Pacers coach Frank Vogel kept the game plan simple. Make the extra pass, take care of the ball, play defense and get more out of his bench. The four-pronged approach worked. Danny Granger scored a season-high 16 points, Paul George and Lance Stephenson each had 15 and the Pacers plowed through some rough stretches to pull away from the Orlando Magic, 98-79 on Monday night.
Manning wins 5th MVP award and AP offensive player
Peyton Manning made his fifth NFL Most Valuable Player award a family affair.
Manning’s record-setting season earned him The Associated Press NFL MVP award Saturday night in a landslide. No other player has won more than three.
Hibbert, George lead Pacers to rally past Nets at home
Paul George and Roy Hibbert both had 20 points, and the Indiana Pacers overcame an early deficit to beat the Brooklyn Nets 97-96 Saturday night.
Lance Stephenson, left out of the All-Star game despite leading the NBA in triple-doubles, added 14 points for the Pacers (36-10), who improved the league’s best home record to 22-2. David West had 17 points and George Hill scored 10.
Suns hand Pacers 2nd home loss
Goran Dragic had 28 points and seven assists and the Phoenix Suns handed the Indiana Pacers just their second home loss of the season with a 102-94 victory Thursday night.
Gerald Green and Marcus Morris scored 16 points apiece to help the Suns win their fourth straight game.
Kurt Busch 70 percent sure he’ll run in Indy 500
Kurt Busch put his chances at “70 percent” at running the Indianapolis 500 this year because of recent developments that have pushed a potential program along.
Nuggets end 3-game skid, beat Pacers
Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 25 points and the Denver Nuggets snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Indiana Pacers 109-96 Saturday night.
Nate Robinson and Timofey Mozgov added 15 points apiece. First-year Nuggets coach Brian Shaw won in his first matchup against Indiana since leaving his job as a Pacers assistant to come to Denver.
George guides Pacers to OT win at Sacramento
Paul George scored eight of his 36 points in overtime and the Indiana Pacers defeated the Sacramento Kings 116-111 on Friday night.
Oden plays in 1st NBA game since 2009
Former Terre Haute resident Greg Oden played in his first NBA regular-season game in more than four years Wednesday night, coming off the bench in the second quarter of the Miami Heat’s game against the Washington Wizards.
Moving on: Coach likes what he sees, gets ready for phase three of Colts’ development
Time to move on. In the wake of the Indianapolis Colts’ 43-22 AFC divisional playoff loss at New England last Saturday night, head coach Chuck Pagano is ready to take time off and then start getting after it again late this spring.
‘Still the same Tom’
How do you attempt to stop, or even slow down, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
Colts, Patriots, both with many new faces, to meet in playoffs for fourth time
Here we go again. Yet another Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots playoff game.
Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
Thanks to the San Diego Chargers’ 27-10 AFC wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts will be traveling to Foxboro, Massachusetts to face Brady’s New England Patriots Saturday (8:15 p.m.).
Victory over Chiefs means nil, Mathis says
Robert Mathis doesn’t care that the Indianapolis Colts registered a 23-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium two weeks ago.
Toeing the line: Colts’ offensive line getting healthy, finding niche as playoffs near
The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has certainly taken its share of hits this season, both on and off the field.
Loss at Chiefs could cost Colts bye in playoffs
Chuck Pagano doesn’t have to make his Indianapolis Colts players aware of the playoff implications surrounding the team’s road game at Kansas City on Sunday.
Back in the mix: Colts are hoping to improve their playoff seeding in final two weeks of NFL’s regular season
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano stresses that he is not a scoreboard watcher when it comes to other National Football League games.
Back in stride: Colts finally put points on board early, roll to ninth victory of season
It had been a long time in coming, a National Football League game in which the Indianapolis Colts had a comfortable lead well into the second half.
Whalen, Richardson make waves on offense
It’s not too hard to figure out who the offensive and defensive players of the game were in the Indianapolis Colts’ 25-3 win over Houston Sunday.
Hibbert leads red-hot Pacers over Heat
Roy Hibbert scored 24 points and Paul George had 15 of his 17 points during a second-half rally to lead the Pacers past Miami 90-84 Tuesday night in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.
Indiana improved its league-best record to 19-3 and extended its lead to three full games by beating Miami at home for the fourth straight time.
- More Pro Sports Headlines
- Jefferson, Bobcats top Pacers