Last season, the Indianapolis Colts' run defense was destroyed when it mattered, and that was most evident in the two games against the Patriots. Entering the offseason, the Colts knew that it was among their biggest needs, and head coach Chuck Pagano even said that it is the team's "Achille's heel" while talking at the owner's meetings earlier in the offseason.
When looking at the struggles defensively for the Colts, we could point to a number of individual players and a number of positions, and one such position that clearly needed upgrading was the defensive line. Cory Redding did a good job last year, but outside of that the Colts really didn't have much, as unfortunately Arthur Jones was injured for a significant portion of the season.
This offseason, the Colts let Redding - their best defensive lineman over the last three seasons - walk in free agency and replaced him with Kendall Langford - a solid signing that could be an underrated move. Arthur Jones will be back healthy next season as well, which should be a big boost. At nose tackle, they have Josh Chapman, and then at depth along the line they have guys like Montori Hughes, Zach Kerr, and Kelcy Quarles. It's a solid group, but not much more than average. And what the Colts don't need is more average players or positions, particularly on defense - they need good players - playmakers, as Ryan Grigson described it. And after only signing one notable free agent along the defensive line and letting two guys go (Redding and Ricky Jean Francois), the Colts could very well be looking at taking a defensive lineman in this week's NFL Draft.
Ryan Grigson said that he "definitely" thinks that the Colts can find players along the line to help them in the draft. "There are some quality defensive linemen in this class," he added. "There are some long, athletic ones. There are some very stout ones. There are some that have pretty good versatility along the front for what we do. I feel as much as since I've been here, 2012, if there were more of these players, more cookie cutter type guys for what we were looking for, that would have been ideal. But every year, like Jim Irsay says, ‘The draft dictates to you, you don't dictate to the draft.' That's just the way it works.
"That group as a whole I think is pretty strong. Those defensive linemen, they're treasure, the ones that can not only hold the point but also have some third down ability and aren't just first, second down statues. The more dynamic they are with size, obviously the steeper the price. Again, those young guys that you are talking about, I think even one of the players alluded to it yesterday at workouts that we got some big bodies that can move. All our guys on the defensive line run near five flat at 320 to 340 pounds-plus. We've got athletic guys. We've just got to make more plays."
While the Colts' GM certainly wasn't showing his hand when it comes to his plan for the draft, but it was certainly striking how much he talked about the defensive line and really likes the class. There certainly is quite a bit of talent available in the draft class and a number of players who should be available for the Colts at pick number 29 who are solid options as well, and it's a need for Indy.
Ryan Grigson has made 23 picks for the Colts since becoming their GM, and twice he has taken a defensive lineman (Josh Chapman in 2012 and Montori Hughes in 2013). With how much the Colts could really use another lineman (particularly a nose tackle) and with how much it sounds like Grigson likes the class, don't be surprised at all to see the Colts grab a defensive lineman in this year's draft, and perhaps earlier rather than later.