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May 9, 2014

Colts take versatile offensive lineman with first pick

INDIANAPOLIS — It may have taken awhile, but the Indianapolis Colts came away from their first pick in the 2014 National Football League Draft with a versatile offensive lineman who can play guard, tackle and center.

Former Ohio State starting guard Jack Mewhorst got the call Thursday night as the 59th overall pick in the draft. Indianapolis had traded its first-round pick to Cleveland last year in exchange for running back Trent Richardson, so Mewhorst going in the second round was the Colts’ first overall selection.

The 6-foot-6, 309-pound offensive lineman had an outstanding senior season for the Buckeyes, leading the Big Ten Conference with 24 blocks that resulted in touchdowns. Mewhorst — a Toledo, Ohio native — also had 115 knockdown blocks.

Mewhorst earned first-team All-Big Ten and All-America honors as a senior. He earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he saw work at both offensive tackle positions. As a junior and senior at Ohio State, Mewhorst worked as a left offensive tackle.

He wasn’t surprised that he was taken by Indianapolis. Colts offensive line coach Joe Gilbert had worked Mewhorst out prior to the draft and had remained in contact in recent weeks.

“I thought I had a good workout [with Indianapolis]. But on draft day anything can happen,” he said in a teleconference with Indianapolis media Friday night.

“Being drafted at all is a huge compliment. And then to go to a team that’s right up the street from my hometown and one state over is just awesome. I know they’ve got a great organization and a pretty young team. When I got on the phone with [head coach Chuck Pagano], he told me that they’re trying to win championships. So that’s always something that I’ve wanted to be a part of. So I’m really excited.”

Newhorst is expected to push for playing time at either offensive guard spots as a rookie. Indianapolis returns Donald Thomas and Hugh Thornton from last year’s squad, although Thomas missed most of the season with injuries. The Colts also added former Chicago Bears offensive guard Lance Louis as a free agent after the 2013 season concluded.

The selection of the former Buckeye came as a surprise to most Indianapolis fans, who were hoping the team would take a safety or wide receiver with its initial draft pick.

But several of the names that had been associated with the Colts early — Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward (San Francisco), Colorado State center Weston Richburg (New York Giants), Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer (Denver) — were gone by the time Indianapolis made its pick.

Ward went to the 49ers with the 30th overall selection late in the first round. Richburg and Latimer, meanwhile, were both second-round selections. The ex-Hoosiers’ wide receiver went to the Broncos three picks ahead of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis also had a draft pick in the third round Friday, the 90th selection overall, that occurred after the Tribune-Star’s deadline. A full breakdown of the Colts’ draft, with scheduled selections today in the fifth (166th), sixth (203rd) and seventh rounds (232rd), will be in Sunday’s Tribune-Star.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson may try to add more draft picks in the later rounds. Grigson is also expected to sign a large group of undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the draft this afternoon.

In addition to Lattimer, three Notre Dame players were selected in the first two rounds — offensive guard Zach Martin (Dallas) on Thursday night along with defensive end Stephen Truitt (Pittsburgh) and tight end Troy Niklas (Arizona) Friday evening.

 

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