Draft weekend is always a long weekend, so by the time the Colts made the final pick of the draft I took a brief break from writing to go to a family Mother's Day Celebration (by the way, happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there, especially to my own mother, who allows me to reside in and write from her basement as a blogger). Because of that, these grades are a day late, but that has also given me more time to reflect on the Colts' five picks and gather more information about them.
Before I begin, let me reiterate that I really don't like giving grades out at this time that much because it's based on nothing they've done on the field in the NFL. As a general rule, I wait three years before officially judging a draft class (shameless plug: you can read this year's annual three-year review, looking at the 2011 draft class, here). But, in order to get a sense of my thoughts on this year's draft class (hint: it was very much hit or miss), I've given each pick an initial grade, plus a write up of my thoughts on the player and the pick. If you click on the link in each you can read my initial thoughts on the player in the moment, but keep in mind that my opinions might have changed slightly since then.
My thoughts on this selection can be summed up like this: I like the player but I don't like the pick. Let me explain. I like Mewhort as a player and I think he will help the Colts. But I don't like the pick for the fact that I think there was much better value to be had at pick number 59 than Mewhort. To be honest, my thoughts on this pick have changed a bit over the past day or two, as initially I really didn't like it, but I'm not as adamantly against it now. I think that Mewhort will help the Colts in more ways than one, giving them versatility along the offensive line that is extremely valuable. The Colts (Marvin Harrison) announced him as an offensive guard, which is most likely where he will play this year. He also has played at center and tackle, and there's a chance that he might be moved over to tackle at some point in the future - perhaps when Gosder Cherilus's contract starts getting bigger. This year, however, he'll likely be a priority backup with a chance of getting into the starting lineup at guard (or at center) if guys struggle or get injured. With so many injuries along the line last year, it is really nice to have a versatile guy who can play any position along the line. And when he does play, he plays well - I don't think he'll ever be an all-star type player but I do think he'll be a guy who can stick around for a long time and play. He's a good player, no doubt. But that said, I don't like the pick. There were so many guys who were much better value in the second round than Mewhort - including guys like Notre Dame NT Louis Nix (who eventually went to the Texans), Florida State safety Terrence Brooks (who eventually went to the Ravens), Missouri DE Kony Ealy (who eventually went to the Panthers), and USC center Marcus Martin (who eventually went to the 49ers), to name a few. Talent-wise and value-wise, all of those players would have been a better selection than Mewhort and some - especially Nix and Brooks - would likely have been able to make a big, immediate impact. This pick ultimately left me wondering about Ryan Grigson's ability to read the draft, see how it is going, and make picks accordingly. I don't have a problem with the player, but I have a problem with the pick - and ultimately, it leaves me with more questions about Ryan Grigson than about Jack Mewhort.
Initial Grade: C -
Put simply, I loved this pick. Loved it. Moncrief was a guy I thought was going to be taken in the second round, but because this draft was LOADED at the receiver position (seriously, it was stacked) Moncrief dropped into the late third round. The Colts jumped at the opportunity to get a good player at a great value at a position of need (and yes, the Colts absolutely needed a receiver). Moncrief is a hard worker who has the potential to develop into a legit number one or two receiver at the NFL level, and this year (at least) he gets to learn from one of the best technicians in the game, Reggie Wayne. He also joins a loaded receiving core in Indy and will slot in as the team's fourth wideout behind Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and Hakeem Nicks. Moncrief will see playing time this year, certainy, and should be able to help right away, but more importantly he'll be able to continue to develop without having a ton of pressure on him (because rookie receivers often don't do great in their first year) with the hope that he'll be a long-term weapon for Andrew Luck alongside Hilton, who has already emerged as a star. Both Moncrief and Hilton were third round choices by Ryan Grigson, though to be fair, it's impossible and unfair to expect Moncrief to have even close to the same start to his career as Hilton, who's production is off-the-charts insane through two years. All of that said, I think Moncrief is a guy who can both contribute this year and play an even bigger role in the future, and I think the pick came with great value in the third round, too.
Initial Grade: A
This is a very interesting pick by the Colts because, for a fifth round guy, he actually does have quite a bit of talent. He's got the skills to be a good pass rusher and he has already been standing up while rushing, so the adjustment there (from defensive end to outside linebacker) won't be huge. Ryan Grigson said that Newsome has the skill set to play either rush or sam linebacker, though I think that, at least early on, his role will mainly be as a pass rusher and special teams guy. He will get to learn from one of the best in the game, Robert Mathis, who many have compared Newsome to - including a guy who's opinion I greatly respect, former Colts general manager Bill Polian. Newsome agreed with the comparison and said that he "can't wait" to get to learning from Mathis, saying that he is "a hell of a player" and that he will become like Mathis's little brother in following him around and learning from him. The main concern about Newsome is off-the-field and maturity concerns, something that Newsome owned up to on a conference call with media yesterday and something that he was honest about yet insisted was in the past. If that is truly the case, then this could turn out to be a bit of a steal for the Colts, because Newsome has the potential to become a solid pass rusher in the NFL. For a fifth round pick, I really don't mind taking the chance on that at all.
Initial Grade: B -
Another interesting pick by the Colts is the selection of Andrew Jackson - no, not the president, the linebacker out of Western Kentucky. And it was a pick that I actually liked a lot in the sixth round. Talent-wise, Jackson is the run defender that the Colts really needed. He's a thumper in a 3-4 scheme who is very stout against the run - something the Colts have really needed from their inside linebackers and something that wasn't really addressed that great with D'Qwell Jackson, either. In coverage and in pass defense, however, Jackson is a liability and therefore he will likely never be an every-down player because of the pass-heavy nature of the NFL today. That said, as a rotational and depth player, he's a very nice piece to have, as he can bring the hammer as an inside linebacker and that is something the Colts can absolutely use. They have more talented overall inside linebackers in Jerrell Freeman, Josh McNary, and D'Qwell Jackson so Andrew Jackson won't supplant them, but what those other three I mentioned don't really bring is a hammer in the run game, and that's precisely where Andrew Jackson fits in. He should find a niche in run defense for the Colts and should settle in as a nice rotational and depth player, which in the sixth round is certainly fine value. The main concern coming into the draft, aside for his coverage, is his off-the-field issues and his maturity and I heard from numerous sources that he needed to go to a strong locker room - which is precisely what the Colts provide. If there's any locker room in the NFL where it would work for Andrew Jackson, it will be in Indianapolis, and so I feel pretty good about that aspect of it too. Certainly, I grade all of these picks on a curve based on the round, and for the sixth round, I think Jackson is a great pick.
Initial Grade: A -
My first reaction when I heard the pick was, "Who?" My reaction now, after doing some research and watching a bit of film, is still largely, "Who?" I still don't feel like I have a great grasp on who Ulrick John is as a player. This is a guy who almost nobody had information on. NFL Network displayed his name as "John Ulrick" on the TV when the pick was announced. There are no scouting reports to be found on him from any of them major sites, such as NFL.com, CBS.com, or others. Draft Breakdown had zero videos on him. Most of the information I have on him comes from the Colts and the Georgia State athletic site. John's size is intriguing (6-8, 290 pounds) and like Mewhort he has experience playing all over the offensive line. Here's what Ryan Grigson said about him yesterday:
"He's interesting. He played against Alabama, West Virginia this year and played pretty darn well. To me, he's a true left tackle prospect, he's a developmental guy. But he's also played center and guard, so he kind of goes along with the theme. He's a guy that has multi-position flexibility. He's competitive, but he's very athletic and he's got room to grow. I'd like to see how he looks a year from now with Roger Marandino and our weight program because we feel like he has some upside. He's got a really good athletic base. He's competitive, he was at our top 30 visit. He was kind of an unknown. It's going to be interesting to see how he develops because the athletic core and character, size and all those things are there, and he knows how to play the game. He actually was a center in high school as well, I think he was only like 240 pounds or something, he was a skinny guy."
Clearly, the versatility is something the Colts really value, but a lot of their linemen bring that and I don't really think it's something that will set John apart that much. Grigson mentioned that he views John as a developmental left tackle and that he would like to see what he looks like a year from now. In my opinion, best case scenario is that he's on the practice squad this year, and that's not even a guarantee. I really don't see the need to draft this guy, as I'm pretty sure he would have been available as a free agent after the draft too. While the seventh round hardly ever produces starters (much less good starters), I still don't think this pick was the best - even for the seventh round, which is saying a lot. Like Grigson, I'll reevaluate my thoughts after a year and see what he looks like and whether he can contribute more then, but I think best case scenario he might just take up a spot on the Colts practice squad this year. I don't know a lot about Ulrick John and I'll continue to dig to find out more, but I don't like this pick much.
Initial Grade: D