First of all, the offseason is not over, so this article may be a bit premature. A solid amount of quality players are sure to be cut and hopefully a veteran center, a quality safety and a starting caliber cornerback will be signed . I'll admit, I used to be part of the "in Grigson we trust" contingent. but lately my faith began to dwindle. Then I looked at the whole gamut of the offseason and Grigson has done a admiral job of filling the colts many holes. Although, I think he could have drafted or brought in better players at certain positions overall the acquisitions were solid. Going into the offseason I'd say the colts holes were(in no particular order) Interior line, ILB, OT depth, CB starters/depth, Safety, WR, Pass rush, and D line. That's an absurd amount of holes that need to be filled(sexual joke intended). So looking at each position...
-Signed D'qwell Jackson as a starter
-Signed Henric Muamba for depth
-Drafted Andrew jackson for depth(for now)
Current ILB corps
Starters: D'qwell and Freeman
Depth: Josh Mcnary, Andrew Jackson, Henric Muamba, Kelvin Shepphard, Mario Harvey
While I think Karlos Dansby or Dakoda watson were better options at Inside Linebacker I'm still going to wait until D'qwell plays to make my final decision on the signing. I also think the colts should have retained Kavell Connor, but for some reason he was in Pagono's doghouse . That being said Andrew Jackson was a good replacement and after doing some research on Muamba he seems like a good system fit.
-Signed Arthur Jones
-Re-signed Fila Moala
-picked up Zach Kerr as a UDFA
Current Defensive Line
Starter: Cory Redding, Josh Chapman, Arthur Jones(or Maybe Jones will play NT and RJF will start)
Depth: RJF, Moala, Zach Kerr, Montori Hughes
Arthur Jones was a great pick up, he will shore up the run defense and (hopefully) push RJF into a situational pass rushing role. His signing also helps long-term because Jones can take over for redding after this year and with Chapman, Hughes, and Kerr most likely improving the D line should be set for the foreseeable future. Speaking of Kerr, he is a beast and may challenge Josh Chapman for starting Nose Tackle. Moala is also quality depth although he's a little undersized for the 3-4. Overall, our D line is now a good mix of young players, players in their prime, and veterans and it's become one of the colt's strongest units.
-CUT SAMSON SATELE
-Signed Lance Louis
-Drafted Jack Mewhort
-Picked up Jonatthan harrison and many other UDFA Guards
Current Interior Line
Starters: Donald Thomas, Khaled Holmes, Hugh Thornton/Lance Louis/Jack Mewhort
Depth: Jonatthan Harrison, Lance Louis/Hugh thornton/Jack Mewhort, reitz, Xavior Nixon, UDFAs
-Didn't include Ultrick cause I think he's a Practice Squad project player
So, this is a hard one to grade because it's filled with so many unknowns...Will Khaled Holmes be a competent Center? Will Hugh Thornton improve? Who will start? That being said, I actually have a lot of faith in Holmes based on watching him at USC and the limited snaps from last year. Although I hoped the colts would sign Goodwin for competition and veteran leadership, Harrison is a reasonable consolation prize. It would have been nice to have picked up a stud guard in Free agency or the draft (Mewhort will move to RT when Cherilus gets too expensive IMO) the one thing that is improved is depth. Depth at O line is probably the most important depth out of all the positions on a football team because interior O lineman seem to inevitably get injured. All of the players I listed won't be on the final roster, but regardless every single one of them is quality depth and a capable starter.
Offensive Tackle Depth
-Drafted Jack Mewhort
Current Depth: Mewhort and UDFA's
Mewhort was a good Pickup in the draft(albeit a little early), but Ultrich is a project player and I don't have any faith in the Offensive Tackle UDFAs. Last year neither tackle went down, but if Castonzo or Cherilus did sustain an injury Linkenbaugh could not be counted on. This year if one goes down(knock on wood), the situation won't be ideal, but it won't be a travesty.
-Picked up solid UDFAs: Purifoy, Cox, Lyn
Current Cornerback Situation
Starters: Vontae and Toler with Butler as a Nickel corner
4th CB Gordy, 5th: Price/Purifoy/Cox/Lyn
On paper, the colts Cornerback situation doesn't look too bad, but if you're a colts fan you know Toler is made of glass and Butler is not a capable #2. Re-signing Vontae was the priority of the off-season and Grigson accomplished it by paying market value, sorry Brad he didn't overpay. However, the colts need a capable #2 when Toler inevitably gets hurt. This could/should have been addressed in the early rounds. If I could re-draft for the colts I probably would have gone with Kony Ealy, Louis Nix, or Allen Robinson in the 2nd and Bashaud Breeland in the late 3rd. Obviously I loved the Purifoy pickup(man-crush) considering Pagano can coach him up into a legit number 2 and I doubt the colts will allow bath salts in the locker room. According to Stephen, Cox and Lyn are solid too, but none of them are prepared to play the number #2 cornerback this year. So there's no nice way to put it: Grigson Fucked up on the Cornerback front.
Wide Reciever: Reggie Wayne, Ty Hilton, Brazil, Da'rick, Whalen
Current Wide Reciever: Corps: Reggie, Nicks, TY, Moncrief, Da'rick, Whalen, Brazil
At the beginning of the offseason, I viewed the colts WR situation through rose-covered glasses: Reggie's gonna come back just as good as last year! Da'rick is gonna make the leap and be a beast "z receiver" next year and reggie will groom him as his replacement! After we signed Nicks I was 100% convinced that drafting a wide reciever would be a waste of a pick. Then I realized three things (a)Reggie is 35 and coming off an ACL injury(b)Da'rick may make the leap, but relying on potential is a dangerous game to play and (c)If Hakeem plays poorly he won't be resigned and if he has a stellar year he'll be asking for too much money and thus won't be re-signed. So ultimately, receiver may not have been an immediate need, but drafting one if the value was right would be a great pick. Well, Ryan Grigson seems to share my sentiments and made a superb pick by drafting moncrief in the third round. Moncrief possesses all the measurables necessary to become a legitimate number one in the NFL. In addition, unlike receivers like stephen hill, he has the production to match. Also, the tutelage of Reggie and Nicks and the lack of pressure to produce in his rookie year will be beneficial towards his development. The aforementioned Nicks is also a great addition for only 3 million this year. He is going to a team with a better quarterback, receiving corps, and locker room. Hopefully, a change of scenery will lead to improved production.
Safety: La'ron Landry, Delano Howell(Not including special team players listed as safeties)
-Colt Anderson...Does he even count?
Current Starting Safeties: La'ron Landry, Delano Howell
Depth: Special team players/UDFAs
Relying on an UDFA to start? Great Idea... Paying big money for a SS who cares more about his Biceps than taking correct angles? Nice move. I don't know what's worse the fact that the colts are relying on Delano Howell to start or that the safety depth consists of special teams players and Undrafted Free agents from Carson-Newman and Cal PA. Even if you disagree with my opinion on Khaled Holmes at least the colts have a true backup in Thomas Austin and other options in Donald Thomas and (maybe) Jack Mewhort. I assume grigson will add another safety but as of now the grade is...F-
-Signed Arthur Jones
Many probably think that Grigson didn't do enough to address the pass rush this offseason, but I am one of the few who thinks our pass rush will suffice. First of all, Arthur Jones may be known as run-stopper, but he still offers some pass rush. Second of all, I think RJF will thrive as a situational pass rusher. Finally, I see werner taking the next step because pass rushers notoriously take a while to develop, especially when they have to make the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 . I know I previously stated that "betting on potential is a dangerous game to play", but in this case Grigson had no choice. He can't spend big money or a high draft pick on a pass rusher because then drafting werner would be a wasted pick. By using a fifth rounder on Newsome it shows he is not putting all of his eggs in the werner basket, but also isn't ready to give up on him. Also, on a side note, the colts should be considered contenders this year, but they are probably still one year away from being true super bowl contenders, so Grigson may as well wait one year before he decides whether to give up on werner. All of that being said, WHY NO ANTHONY SPENCER?
Grade: C+...although he didn't really have a choice
The colts had an inordinate amount of holes going into the offseason and aside from the secondary most were addressed relatively well. Games are won and lost in the trenches and both lines are significantly improved. They now have a solid duo of inside linebackers, a lethal receiving corps, and quality depth throughout the roster. However, the secondary was poorly addressed and the success of the pass rush is contingent on many "ifs".
Could the Colts have had a better Offseason? Yes. Did Grigson make some head-scratching personnel decisions? Yes. Am I going too easy on him? Probably...Are the colts significantly better than they were in 2013? Definitely.