The perfect way to describe this draft by the Colts is in one simple phrase, "a meat and potatoes kind of draft." Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano addressed needs on both the offensive and defensive line. Adding a hard-hitting safety that Pagano compared to a 'buzzsaw' should help on special teams next season. Then, they added an explosive playmaker with return ability and a crucial blocking tight end in Pep Hamilton's three tight end sets. Overall, this draft will not win them any super bowls, but key glue players to help solidify the roster.
24) Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State
Even though I had the Colts trading down with the Eagles and getting Bjoern Werner, I will still humbly brag that I got this pick right.
Werner fills a massive need to help the outside pass-rush. Outside of Robert Mathis, they had no legitimate options to take games over. Bjoern has one of the best snap anticipation/bursts in this entire draft. His powerful hands make it easy for him to shed blocks and closes very well on runners. The German product also is great at setting the edge to force running backs to cut inside. Another factor that could be crucial with Werner is his batted passes. He batted down seven for Florida State and I imagine Ryan Grigson would love to have someone to compare to JJ Watt in the AFC South.
In the 3-4 defense, Werner looks like he should be able to make the transition. He compares very well to Paul Kruger, who Pagano molded into a 3-4 edge-rusher in Baltimore. Robert Mathis and Werner could the new duo that wrecks havoc around the league for the next few years. I absolutely loved this pick for the Colts.
86) Hugh Thornton, OG, Illinois
There were many great prospects available at 86, but Hugh Thornton was the pick here. I did not like the pick at first, but after more research I am starting to like it a little more.
Thornton is expected to be an above-average pass protector in the NFL. He is great at setting a wide base, using his hands on defenders, and using a low pad level to blow defenders off the line of scrimmage. Pagano has been preaching the mantra of running the ball and stopping the run, Thornton should ensure that comes to fruition. He is very aggressive in the run game, always play to the whistle. Hugh has good feet that help his speed to help him get to the next level of the defense. His upper body strength will help him latch onto defenders, stabilize them at the line of scrimmage. In Pep's power run scheme, Thornton looks like a great fit at right guard alongside Gosder Cherilus.
Hugh lacks the movement to stay outside at tackle, but as mentioned he will become a guard on this team. The one issue is that he bends too much in pass protection. This could open him up to be an easy target for swim moves or spin moves. If he pans out, Thornton should be a day one starter at guard for the Colts.
121) Khaled Holmes, OC/OG, USC
Taking a center here this early surprised me a lot. Even though Samson Satele was one of the worst lineman last year, A.Q. Shipley looked like an eventual starter. By taking Khaled Holmes this early, the writing is on the wall that one of two will be gone after training camp.
Holmes is a true leader along the offensive line. He is cerebral enough to make changes along the lines, easily reads blitzes. He also gets after teammates that do not give their best effort, a definition of a true leader. Khaled has fast feet that help him accelerate to the second level, sustains blocks until whistle is blown. He is great for screen plays in which he can pull out and lead runners down field due to his size and feet as mentioned. Has powerful hands that can push the defensive lineman out of the hole. Holmes has a great anchor that helps him well in pass protection. Another great thing about Holmes is he's a great student, which should help on the field, He graduated with a double major of classics and communication.
The only negatives on Holmes is that he does not play with great knee bend, overextends and ends up on the ground a lot. He attacks the lineman he is assigned to, but usually stays on him which opens up a free lane for a linebacker. Holmes projects as a starting center in the NFL. I expect him to battle Satele and Shipley for the starting spot during training camp.
139) Montori Hughes, DE/NT, Tennessee-Martin
I was surprised to see the Colts trade up, but for a guy like Hughes it is worth it. Coming in to the draft, he was one of he higher ranked run-stuffers. Getting another player to stop the run and clog up holes is what Pagano will need in his defense.
Montori Hughes has the build to become a key player on the Colts defense for years to come. He can either play at nose tackle or eventually replace Cory Redding at defensive end. For his size, Hughes is exceptionally fast. He holds his own against double teams, becoming a true space-eater. Hughes wrecks havoc up the middle by using a simple bull rush, forces quarterback out of comfort zone. Has powerful hands to rip off of blockers, also has quickness to chase down quarterback if freed off his man.
He has to learn to use his hands more to disengage off blocks. Also lacks closing speed to chase down runners. Hughes has questions about his troubled past (academic issues), but if he stays out of trouble he will be a steal. Outside of Werner, this pick was one I loved. He should come in and play a major role right away due to his pure ability.
192) John Boyett, FS, Oregon
Boyett is a true thumper on defense. As mentioned earlier, Coach Pagano called Boyett a 'buzzsaw', that means that he should bring an instant impact and intimidation on the field. I loved this pick, it's a high reward one if he pans out. He could be the eventual replacement to Antoine Bethea once he hits free agency in 2014.
He set the intensity on Oregon defense and is a tackling machine for a safety. Has range on downfield throws, takes aggressive angles to go for the ball. Boyett is not afraid to lay out for an interception or tipped ball. Very savvy defender who can read what is going on in the backfield. He always is in the middle of the action, once in on every play. Relentless on every play, grabs on to defenders legs to drag them and fights off blocks with quick hands.
John has major concerns with both his knees. He had surgery on both during this season and is currently rehabbing them. The Colts medical staff must have seen the injury as treatable and was not taken off their draft board. He sometimes is too aggressive, and might be called for a lot of penalties. Boyett should make an impact his first year or two on special teams. Then eventually, he should grow into a starting role down the road.
230) Kerwynn Williams, RB/KR, Utah State
Outside of the Werner pick (my highest grade), this is my favorite one. Kerwynn Williams will bring a Darren Sproles/Jacquizz Rodgers feel to the offense. His speed will be a major asset on third downs and in the passing game. Also as a returner, Williams should come in and start due to his blazing speed.
When running, Williams keeps the ball out of harms way with great technique. At Utah State, he was used in five receiver sets flexed to the outside. He loves to cut up the field on outside runs to use his speed to go around the corner. His running style is also surprisingly powerful. Williams is not afraid to run north and south to create contact. He is very reliable in the passing game and can be used on wheel routes, to exploit his matchup on a linebacker. Kerwynn makes the defender miss when he is up to full speed. His big play ability will be a major asset to the offense next season.
Williams does not have the ideal size for a running back at 5'8". He does not explode out of his stance, builds up speed. Kerwynn has questionable vision as a runner. Consistently taken down on first contact and is prone to fumbles. Whiffs on blocks a lot in pass protection. With the negatives on Williams though, he should be a major help on special teams. As a returner, he could take a few for touchdowns next season with his breakaway speed.
254) Justice Cunningham, TE, South Carolina
With the Mr. Irrelevant pick, I was expecting Grigson and Pagano to take a flyer on a guy like Da'Rick Rogers. Instead, they went with a blocking tight end in Justice Cunningham. He should battle with former Gamecock, Weslye Saunders for the third tight end spot on the roster.
Cunningham is a very good blocker. Most of the time, he acts as a third offensive tackle in most play packages. In protection, he has a powerful punch that slows down rushers off the edge. Surprisingly has a nice array of catching ability. Fakes out defenders by going out for screens after blocking for a few seconds. When he is thrown the football, Cunningham adjusts well to throws. His route running is also good enough for him to go across the middle at times.
Justice is not a great athlete. He is not very fast and not a big threat on passing downs. Cunningham lacks the height and length to be a playmaker. Mr. Irrelevant should compete for a roster spot alongside Saunders and Dominique Jones. It will be an interesting battle in training camp to see who gets the third tight end spot on the roster.
Final Grade: B
This was not a sexy draft, but one that will help in the trenches and special teams. Werner should come in and battle for a starting spot alongside Walden, or be used as a pass-rushing specialist his first year. Thornton and Holmes both are capable of starting on the offensive line from day one and fit the offense well. Hughes should also compete for a starting spot at nose tackle or be a key rotational player at both defensive end and nose. Boyett will be a key contributor on special teams and eventually grow into the starting spot if Bethea leaves in free agency. Williams also will be a Darren Sproles-like player for the offense and an instant impact as a kick returner. Finally, Cunningham should be able to fight for a roster spot to be on the field as the main blocking tight end in Pep's three tight end sets.
This draft was not perfect, but warrants a B with how the players will be put into their expected roles. What are your thoughts on my draft grade and the draft overall for the Colts?