News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

May 8, 2014

Colts keep options open as NFL Draft begins today

INDIANAPOLIS — While the 2014 NFL Draft gets underway today (8 p.m.) at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, the Indianapolis Colts will be sitting the first round out.

 Thanks to last September’s trade with the Cleveland Browns that brought running back Trent Richardson – a 2012 first-round selection by the Browns – to Indianapolis, the Colts will be on the outside looking in this evening.

That’s not to say Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson won’t be looking at any possible deals. As it currently stands, the Colts will have the 59th overall pick in the second round along with selections in the third round (90th), fifth round (166th), sixth round (203rd) and seventh (232rd).

 After tonight’s opening round, the draft will continue Friday at 7 p.m. (second and third rounds) and Saturday at noon (rounds four through seven). Fans can watch the draft on the NFL Network and ESPN.

As for Indianapolis faithful, tonight’s opening round shouldn’t be too taxing. Grigson, who has been involved in 16 trades since taking over as the team’s general manager in 2012, is probably more inclined to trade down in an effort to obtain more draft picks rather than moving up.

Still, there is always that unexpected surprise to make things interesting.

 “I’m keeping our options open. I feel if the opportunity presents itself and there’s a player we absolutely feel we have to have, that we all collectively as a group are really, really pining for, then we’ll try and do that, if it’s possible,” Grigson said last week.

“At the same time, I have five picks. It’s not like I can offer up a whole lot to make any great moves upwards.”

 So, with no first-round draft pick to work with this year, does that change the Colts’ philosophy as they look at prospective players?

 “It’s different because there’s going to be, I wouldn’t say weaker, but a lesser grouping of top talent available at that spot. But you’re still going to hope that one of those guys that you have in that upper group falls to you. Then you work accordingly,” he explained.

 Most draft analysts think that this year’s crop of college players is a strong one, particularly deep at several positions. That includes wide receiver, offensive line and safety, which could bode well for the Colts. Those are three particular areas that could use some reinforcement heading into the 2014 season.

Grigson added that he expects Indianapolis to also be very active in the hours after the draft concludes on Saturday in an effort to pick up some quality rookie free agents. There are always players who fall through the cracks due to question about size, levels of competition and where they played in college.

“There’s definitely deep spots in the draft. There’s definitely some spots where it’s not as deep. But there’s a good handful of really good players that are going to be available for the taking. With a very deep draft and with all the juniors, the exciting thing is after the draft. We are going to really focus on that. We’ve talked about it a lot with this extra time with the draft,” Grigson said.

 The extra time allowed prior to this year’s draft, which is usually conducted on the final week of April, allowed NFL player personnel departments to take a longer look at players from some of the nation’s smaller programs.

“The hay’s in the barn. We’re not going to sit here and create paralysis by analysis. We’re looking at different avenues on how we can be productive on draft day with just five picks. I think after the draft, with the depth of this draft, I feel that’s really an area to really target. We’re going to really streamline that process, go and try to get those guys we covet that are still sitting on that front board of ours and go after them guns blazing to hopefully create that top 61-man roster with the practice squad,” the Colts general manager said.

“We look beyond the 53, we look beyond that. We want to be able to acquire the best possible players. Even the backend of those guys that are even ‘C-type’ free agents that maybe we get at a position group that’s loaded, you still want those guys to have a skill set, the competitive fiber, the football intelligence to have a chance, a chance to start. You know they’re at least going to make some noise in camp, whether it be from a play-speed standpoint, from a competitive standpoint.”

Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano are always looking for “Horseshoe Guys,” players that may fit Indianapolis’ offensive and defensive schemes better than perhaps other team’s systems. That’s the goal, anyway.

 “There’s all different types, whether it be a guy that has an adequate skill set across the board, but has off-the-charts football acumen and recall of the scheme. Those type of guys can make a splash in camp as well, just for doing things the right way, being where they’re supposed to be and being in the right spot to have a chance to make the play. Some guys are ultra-talented, but they’re never in the right spot,” Grigson said.

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