When it comes to the NFL Draft, only two things are certain: 1) it's impossible to predict, and 2) people will try to do so anyway. Predicting draft day trades are even more impossible to do, as most of them happen in the spur of the moment depending on who is available anyway.
When it comes to trades on draft day, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is certainly one who knows a thing or two about doing just that. Entering his third draft at the helm of the Colts' war room, Grigson has orchestrated a draft day trade in each of his first two drafts as Colts GM. In 2012, he gave up a 2013 fifth round pick to move back into the third round and select wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. In 2013, Grigson sent a fourth round pick this season to move into the fifth round and select defensive lineman Montori Hughes. Interestingly enough, Grigson has not traded back in the draft yet - in other words, he seems to prefer moving up to get players instead of trading back to get picks.
This year, fans are once again wondering whether Grigson will make a trade to move up in the draft, and especially this year with the Colts lacking a first round pick fans are wondering what Grigson has up his sleeve to improve a team that undoubtedly has Super Bowl expectations in 2014. The Colts don't select until the 59th overall pick late in the second round of the draft, and while it is a very deep draft class with lots of talent still to be had at that spot, numerous people are wondering whether Ryan Grigson will try to move up in the draft from the 59th pick.
It is an option that absolutely cannot be ruled out, and honestly will likely have a lot to do about who is available. If there is a player who Grigson and the Colts really like, I could totally see them trying to make a move up in the draft. While it is a possibility and will remain that way until the draft concludes, I will say that I find it very unlikely that Grigson will make a move to put the Colts back in the first round. Here are a couple of reasons why:
- Grigson traded this year's first round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Trent Richardson, a move that has been laughed at and mocked by fans and analysts alike. I still have hope for Richardson, but there is no doubt that Grigson is on a bit of a shaky ground right now with fans regarding that trade. Making a move to gain a first round pick this year would put a lot more additional pressure on Grigson, not to mention that he would be giving up something significant to gain a first round pick - another gamble that he absolutely must make sure is the right one to make. In other words, I expect him to be cautious when approaching it.
- What exactly is there to trade? Next year's first round pick? The second rounder this year plus some more? - and keep in mind the Colts only have five picks to begin with in the upcoming draft. And in case you think the Colts have other pieces to trade - they don't. To be completely honest with you, I really don't see anybody on the Colts roster right now who they would be willing to give up that would help the Colts acquire a first round pick this year. I doubt they would even give up Trent Richardson for a first round pick, though nobody will offer that and it makes sense to take it. What I'm trying to say is this - perhaps the most obvious reason why I don't think the Colts will trade up into the first round of this year's draft is because they just don't have a lot to negotiate with.
- The Colts don't have a lot of room for error. With only five picks this year in the draft, several areas to address, and Super Bowl expectations, the Colts can't afford a bad trade (I'll touch on this more below) - in other words, as I mentioned earlier, Grigson has to be absolutely sure of the player before even trying to move up into the first round.
So far, I've talked about the Colts trading into the first round, and while fan speculation will continue to run rampant in the next month and while we cannot rule it out, the chances of Ryan Grigson actually executing a draft day trade to move his team back into the first round are very unlikely. The chances of him making a move somewhere else throughout the draft, however, are very possible indeed. If it weren't for those moves by Grigson, T.Y. Hilton wouldn't be a Colt, so obviously trades can work out and I would expect Grigson to be exploring multiple options in the mid rounds of the draft. I'm not saying that's unlikely, just that moving into the first round is.
The Colts currently sit in a very interesting situation. They have the core pieces in place - Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Jerrell Freeman, Vontae Davis, etc. They have several very good players that help build around that core - Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, etc. They added a few key players in free agency to improve the team - Arthur Jones, Hakeem Nicks, D'Qwell Jackson. They retained several of their own players who they thought were important enough to keep - Pat McAfee, Adam Vinatieri, Fili Moala, Vontae Davis, Sergio Brown, Ahmad Bradshaw, etc. This is a young team with a lot of talent, one that is coming off of a playoff berth in year one (2012) and a division title and playoff win in year two (2013). Now they enter year three of the new regime and the expectations are clear: Super Bowl. On paper, this certainly looks like a team that can challenge Denver and New England in the AFC. The interesting part about where the Colts are, however, is that they still have many needs, as is often the case with a young team that underwent a massive rebuilding just a few years ago. Center and free safety are still question marks, and depth along the offensive and defensive lines can be a concern too, just as corner and wide receiver can be. The Colts don't have a first round pick this year, but what they do have is talent, holes, and Super Bowl expectations. It's up to Ryan Grigson to add players in the draft who can help to fill some of those holes and make the team a stronger contender.
If there is a prospect that Grigson really likes, he'll try to move up to get him. He's not afraid of making trades, and that's a good thing. But I don't expect one of those trades to be putting the Colts back into the first round. Ryan Grigson just doesn't have the lee-way or the negotiating chips to make it anything but very unlikely.