Let me start by saying this, I'm not going to shower the Colts with sunshine and rainbows but I'm not going to dig their grave either. I do my best to keep a fairly even head when I analyze subjective things like grading an NFL draft class before they've ever played a down in the NFL. As this is obvious, I take my time and cleanse my palate in a way to let this digest but in all honest, this Colts draft still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
That being said, lets get to the picks because that's really all you guys care about anyways.
59. Jack Mewhort - OL - Ohio State
I'll be honest here, this was a big of a head scratcher to me. Mewhort is a versatile offensive lineman who played both OG and OT at Ohio State, playing OT his last three years. That being said, he was never on my radar as someone NFL teams would consider sliding inside. He's 6'6" and has trouble bending and sinking his hips to get leverage against rushers. I'll be honest, there aren't many 6'6" guards in the NFL. There are a lot of 6'4" and under guards but not many tall ones. The Colts clearly plan to move him inside as Marvin Harrison announced him as a guard. This is a bit concerning to me for several reasons.
First, throughout the entire pre-draft process Grigson touted how he wouldn't lie and that it was an absolute waste to do so. Well Grigson reiterated several times that he was happy with the guard depth and kept hyping Lance Louis and his potential. If Mewhort was drafted to slide inside, then Grigson either lied, like he said he wouldn't, or doesn't have faith in either Donald Thomas returning or Hugh Thornton progressing. If it's the latter, then you have to question why Thornton was taken in the third round last year.
Second, if Grigson is planning to move Mewhort to play center then he just drafted a backup center in the second round. In the first three rounds of the NFL draft, you draft players that can contribute immediately unless you're roster is loaded and you have the ability to "red-shirt" guys, like the 49ers. While Mewhort was an All-American center coming out of high school, he hasn't played the position since then. Also, if he's there to compete with Khaled Holmes, then how much faith does Grigson really have in his fourth round pick last year.
Lastly, if Grigson wanted to draft a guard, why Mewhort? Grigson said in his post-draft comments that Mewhort really didn't flash on his radar until the Senior Bowl. So all that tape and all that work your scouts did through the year meant nothing? So all that we see what they've done on the field and we look for good players meant nothing? All that aside, why Mewhort when the second highest rated guard was available in Gabe Jackson or if you wanted someone to compete with Holmes at center why not arguably the top rated center in Marcus Martin?
To wrap things up with this pick, realistically, Mewhort went in about the range I had him, mid-second to mid-third round so in terms of the player, this was not a reach. However, in terms of what the team needed and the players available at the time the Colts picked, it was a significant reach. For example, I had three first round guys that all would have fit positions of need, either immediate or future, for the Colts in NT Louis Nix III (Notre Dame), DE Kony Ealy (Mizzou), and WR Allen Robinson (Penn State). Nix would have immediately pushed a struggling Josh Chapman for playing time, Ealy would have a year to learn the 5-technique before Cory Redding and Fili Moala leave, and Robinson could end up being one of the top wide receivers in this draft. Those are the reasons I say "why Mewhort?" when those guys along with Jackson and Martin were available and would have arguably been better fits.
90. Donte Moncrief - WR - Mississippi
For all my questions regarding the Mewhort pick, I have absolutely no issues with this pick. Moncrief was actually rated at 59 on my board so it's somewhat interesting to me that the Colts got him at 90 instead of 59. Moncrief has the physical tools to become a number one wide receiver in the NFL. He along with TY Hilton and Da'rick Rogers could make for the most talented receiving corp in the NFL in three years. Personally, I wouldn't have taken anyone other than Moncrief here after he fell. I'll be honest, if the picks were switched with Mewhort and Moncrief, I would have felt much better about these first two rounds but getting Moncrief to me was like getting an extra second round guy.
166. Jonathan Newsome - DE - Ball State
When this pick came across the draft tracker, I literally said to myself, "who?" For someone who looked at about 400 different prospects, that's never a good feeling to feel like you missed someone significant. However, after doing a little research on him, I'm not as upset as I was initially with Newsome as a prospect. The scouting report for Newsome reads almost identical to that of Robert Mathis when he came out and we all went "who?" when the Colts drafted him. Newsome is more a quickness DE, like Mathis was, who has a very similar body type as Mathis. I will say that this pick does concern me though because wasn't Bjeorn Werner supposed to be the heir apparent to Mathis at rush linebacker and isn't this the second year in a row they are taking a DE to convert to OLB? It makes me wonder if Grigson is taking a mea culpa in this draft or just thinks he's "smarter than the room" when it comes to moving players to play different positions. Regardless, I wasn't in love with this pick when it happened and I'm still not in love with this pick. Once again, it's not because I don't like the player, because I think he can develop, but because of the position Newsome was drafted, he could have easily been an UDFA especially since he played at Ball State, and of the talent available at that time.
The most telling aspect of this selection to me was the picture posted by the Colts of the war room when Grigson was calling Newsome. Grigson looked very excited about the pick but if you looked around the room, not a single other personnel guy was smiling. Not even the usually excitable head coach Chuck Pagano had a smile on his face about the pick. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this one said to me that Grigson went against his scouts advice to take "his guy" who he said he didn't really notice until after the Combine.
Other players I would have considered at the OLB position at that point would have been Michael Sam (Mizzou), Jordan Tripp (Montana), and Jordan Zumwalt (UCLA). Sam put up crazy numbers at Mizzou and should have been drafted before Round 5 in my mind with his production in the toughest conference in America. If that doesn't put a guy in the top 200 picks, I'm not sure what does. Tripp, in my opinion, would have been another better option. He played both linebacker positions at Montana and while he doesn't have the quick twitch pass rushing abilities of Sam or Newsome, he still was an effective blitzer. Zumwalt, I'd lump into the same category as Tripp but playing at a better level of competition and was a better overall tackler. I would have also considered a couple CBs that could have fit the system like Antone Exum (Virginia Tech) or Brandon Dixon (Northwest Missourri State).
203. Andrew Jackson - ILB - Western Kentucky
This is a pick that after thinking about it, I really liked. He's best suited as a 3-4 inside linebacker. He's a solid, but inconsistent, tackler and if he's protected in the 3-4, will be a beast attacking RBs in the hole. However, he has some range issues in terms of getting to RBs on the outside and covering TEs in man coverage. In terms of ILB, there weren't many better available on the board. My only potentially better option would have been DeDe Latimore out of South Florida but he went undrafted and the difference between the two is insignificant in my eyes.
Other players I would have considered here were OLB Michael Sam, S Jamea Thomas (Georgia Tech), CB Andre Hall (Vanderbilt), or DE Ben Gardner (Stanford).
232. Ulrick John - OL - Georgia State
So you know when I said I went "who?" when the Colts picked Newsome in Round 5? Well, everyone at ESPN went "who?" when the Colts picked Ulrick John. There was limited tape and only one quote I found talked about him being an athletic lineman with long arms but that John did play every position on the offensive line. Most said he would be a practice squad candidate and likely wouldn't make an NFL roster. While you never think a Round 7 pick will become an eventual starter, you do think they will at least make the roster. To me, this was a bit of a slap in the face to many analysts by Grigson. I bit of a "I'm smarter than you cause you've never even heard of this guy and I do deeper scouting than any of you do" kind of pick. The only logical reason this pick would have been it is because Grigson really did want him to try to develop on the practice squad but didn't want to take the risk of him wanting to sign with another team as an UDFA. That rationale I get. However, is a developmental practice squad guy more valuable than a player who could make your 53 man roster and help right away? I don't think so. That's why I don't understand this pick as a whole. I don't understand the player, and I don't understand the position.
Some better options for the Colts at this point were OLB Michael Sam, OLB Trevor Reilly (Utah), S Ahmad Dixon (Baylor), OLB Yawin Smallwood (UConn), CB Terrence Mitchell (Oregon) or OLB Tyler Starr (South Dakota).
Some UDFAs I would have rather seen the Colts draft than John were NT Zach Kerr (Delaware [Colts]), CB Rashaad Reynolds (Oregon State [Jaguars]), S Kenny Ladler (Vanderbilt [Bills]), S Dion Bialey (USC [Seahawks]), DT Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina [Giants]), OLB Brock Coyle (Montana [Seahwaks]), or OLB James Gayle (Virginia Tech [Titans]).
I'll be honest, I'm much more excited about the UDFAs the Colts were able to bring in than their final three draft picks. I'm only going to hit on a few guys that I think have a realistic shot at making the roster.
Zach Kerr - NT - Delaware: Zach Kerr is one of my favorite interior defensive linemen in the draft. He's got a great motor and powerful hands. He also has a great first step and can cause penetration from the NT position. He does have issues in giving up on plays once he loses leverage but I really like this pick.
Qua Cox - CB - Jackson State: I didn't know much about Qua entering the draft but after reading up on him and watching the limited film I could, I'm very excited about his style of play. He's a ball hawking style CB who is very good in press man and off man coverage. With some coaching he could become a great third CB on this Colts roster.
Louchiez Purifoy - CB - Florida: A late addition to the Colts UDFA class, Purifoy is a solid corner with good ball skills. While he is strongest in zone coverage, he has the athleticism to transition to man if necessary. He will need to add some strength to be a press man CB.
Josh Walker - G - Middle Tennessee State: Walker will offer tremendous depth on the Colts offensive line at the guard position. He's a big bodied, powerful in line blocker and is solid anchoring himself against bull rushers in pass protection. He's best suited for a power running game that allows him to just move forward and limit his need to get in space.
Jonotthan Harrison - C - Florida: I love this pick up by the Colts. Harrison has the talent to make the roster as the backup center and possibly push Holmes for the starting job if he struggles. He's very powerful and has long arms and is best suited for a power game that limits his need to block in space. He's also quite good at keeping his head on a swivel to pick up stunts and blitzers on the interior.
Keon Lyn - CB - Syracuse: Lyn missed most of last season with a broken knee cap but prior to that was a three year starter at Syracuse. He's a bigger cornerback who is aggressive in coverage and has quick hips to run with receivers. He doesn't have elite speed and will need to prove he is fully healthy if he expects to make the team.
Other guys that could compete for a practice squad spot at S Dewey McDonald (Cal. PA), S Anthony Baskins (Carson-Newman) and CB Darius Polk (Kent State).
UDFA Grade: A+
I did not think Grigson had a good draft for the second year in a row. There seemed to be far too many reaches and they refused to address areas of admitted need throughout the draft process. This is also the second year in a row they've overlooked players who played a given position for several years in college to select a player who did not play the position the Colts expect them to play in the NFL. This is a bit concerning because every one of those transitioning players start out as developmental. I do however, love the UDFA haul they picked up. All in all, this is not a "sexy" draft, but it's not a terrible draft either. Moncrief and Jackson were solid selections. Mewhort I understood. Newsome and John left me a bit speechless. However, Grigson made it up for me with the UDFA class.
Overall Grade: C
Here's something to think about with regards to Ryan Grigson as a general manager, I think he listens to and believes the "whispers" far too often. We all know he does it in free agency and now he's beginning to do it in the draft. He refuses to just let a guy go if he hears another team is interested in them. I honestly think that is why he took Mewhort in Round 2, Newsome in Round 5 and John in Round 7. There were rumors that Carolina was into Mewhort for some time but Grigson liked him a little and said I've got to have him rather than taking the best player available. Realistically, Mewhort likely wouldn't have lasted up pick 90 but that whisper likely kept him from moving back and taking Mewhort at the beginning of Round 3 and picking up an extra 4th or 5th round pick.
This should be concerning for Colts fans long term because NFL GMs are going to learn Grigson's competitive tendencies and absolutely exploit Grigson's weaknesses. It happened with D'Qwell Jackson this off season when Grigson reportedly heard Tennessee was interested, and it happened last off season with Erik Walden and Ricky Jean Francois. It's now beginning to happen in the draft and if this pattern of behavior does not change, the Colts may be in for some very serious long-term trouble. My big take away from this draft isn't necessarily about the players taken but that Ryan Grigson needs to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em otherwise he's going to get played over and over again by GMs and agents alike.