In past years, the draft has been very important for the Indianapolis Colts. This year, it's even more so.
That's because, in the past, the Colts have had plenty of money to throw around in free agency to try to address needs, whereas this offseason they have been much more limited in that area. So with limited free agent moves, only six draft picks, and a number of holes on the roster, the pressure is on general manager Ryan Grigson to nail this draft, both for the Colts' short-term and long-term future.
"You know what, I think it really is every year no matter what," Grigson said on Wednesday of the draft's importance. "Was I willing to take more risks early on because everyone thought we were going to stink? I mean, sure. But you know what, I'll say this, when you have only six picks, when you have limited resources, meaning not having an abundance of draft picks, you don't have an abundance of cash, you've got to really knock this out of the park. We feel like last year we had eight picks that all were on our 53 (man roster) and contributed in some way, shape or form last year. We feel really good about that, and we're proud of that. We've got to go where we left off and do it again this year."
Grigson is right on both accounts, as he's correct in assessing the importance of this draft - he does really have to knock it out of the park - and he's also correct in assessing that the Colts need to pick up where they left off. Though their draft class last year didn't get great grades after the fact, it wound up being what the Colts needed - several capable players who could fill in and play roles. Entering the 2016, the Colts' 2015 draft class could wind up producing their starting defensive end (Henry Anderson), their starting nose tackle (David Parry), their starting safety (Clayton Geathers), a guy who could compete to be the starting right tackle (Denzelle Good), a guy who could compete to play a role at inside linebacker (Amarlo Herrera), a guy who could compete to be the number three cornerback (D'Joun Smith), and a guy who will be the number three wide receiver (Phillip Dorsett). That's not a bad haul for a draft class, and for a team like the Colts needing to address several areas, it would be nice to do that again. For all of the misses that we've talked about, Grigson and the Colts appear to be on a nice streak when it comes to the draft, and Grigson simply wants to pick up right where they left off.
Of course, that's easier said than done, and the real challenge will be finding difference-makers who can step in and help the team with their six picks this year. The Colts have plenty of needs - pass rush and offensive line are among the biggest, but running back and inside linebacker are a couple of others - and they have less resources in past years to address them. That really emphasizes the draft (something Bill Polian did during his time with the Colts, to a lot of success), which puts the pressure on Ryan Grigson next week to really nail this draft out of the park.