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Ryan Grigson sticking with best player available approach for Colts in 2016 NFL Draft

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Ryan Grigson isn't changing his draft philosophy and instead is sticking with the best player available approach for the Colts despite all of their needs.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past four years, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has had plenty of hits and misses when it comes to the NFL Draft.  One thing that has been clear, however, is that he drafts based on the best player available.

This was never more evident than last year, when the Colts drafted wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round.  It's a pick that I think will look better over time, but it still was considered a luxury pick and was met by criticism.  Grigson, however, simply said that Dorsett was the best player left on their board, so they took him.

Now, after a rough 8-8 campaign that exposed a number of holes on the Colts' roster and with only six picks in the upcoming draft, has Grigson's philosophy when it comes to the draft changed any?

"Probably not at my core," he said on Wednesday at his pre-draft press conference.  "I think every draft is different; every year needs are different.  You philosophies can maybe change to a certain degree, but I'm pretty much the same as I've been in the past.  And again, like I said, there's certain things that can affect you or sway you positionally, but we still want the most talented player that we can acquire at each pick."

The Colts' biggest needs are clearly pass rush and offensive line, while other positions - such as inside linebacker and running back - could also be considered needs as well.  The Colts did not have a lot of money to work with in free agency, making this year's draft as important as ever for the Colts.  Despite that, however, Grigson still intends on drafting the best player available on the team's board, regardless of position.

"I think it's weak to look, no matter what your needs are, to look at your board and see player A here, and then you have player B, C, and D down here and you're going to go, 'well, we have to get a need' and do that," Grigson explained.  "That defies the whole process, I think it breaks the trust and the morale of your scouts and all the guys that spent all that time stacking your board with you, and the coaches that went and worked guys out and went through this exhaustive process.  The coaches, too, they have a pretty rough go of it there after the Combine, they're hopping on planes taking three connections into goodness knows where in this country, and they have an opinion to where they feel strongly about it because they've done the work.  So the guys that do all the work and put their heart and soul into it usually are your loudest voices, no matter if it comes from the coaches, the scouts, what have you."

In other words, Grigson's approach is best player available?

"I mean, yeah, pretty much," he answered.

For the Colts, this isn't a bad strategy.  Sure, there's a chance the Colts could wind up with a position player again (someone like Ezekiel Elliott if he falls to pick number 18), but as long as the Colts are right in their evaluations, it won't end up being a bad pick in the long run.  That's really what the key is: the Colts need to accurately assess the best players in the draft.  The problem with the misses in recent years hasn't been the strategy in targeting the best player available (like Bjoern Werner or Phillip Dorsett), it has rather been in the assessment of those players and the way that they line up on the draft board.  The jury is still out on how the Dorsett pick will turn out, but the bottom line is that more important than the Colts' philosophy is their assessment of players.  If they accurately scout a player and his abilities, it should turn out to be a good pick, and the Colts could use good picks regardless of position.

So as we approach the draft that's just over a week away, it's important to understand that Ryan Grigson won't be limited by the list of his team's needs.  He said that he likes the depth in the trenches (offensive and defensive lines) and that pass rushers are in the eye of the beholder, so nothing would seem to indicate that he'll tie himself to taking one of those positions in the first round.  Rather, when the team's 18th overall pick rolls around, we can expect to see Grigson stay disciplined and stay true to his draft board.  Perhaps the Colts' draft board will look different than many others and perhaps the player will wind up being at a position of need (it wouldn't be a surprise, considering how many needs they have), but the reality is that, despite all of the change and turmoil recently, Ryan Grigson is keeping the same draft philosophy.  Now he just needs to make sure that the Colts' assessment of players makes that strategy worth it.