The 2016 NFL Draft wound up being the fifth and final draft class of the Ryan Grigson era with the Indianapolis Colts, and the GM actually added some talented players as a part of the class.
In the first round the Colts selected center Ryan Kelly, and he started all 16 games for the team in 2016. Their second round pick (T.J. Green) and their third round pick (Le’Raven Clark) are both project players, while Joe Haeg (a fifth round pick) actually wound up playing a ton as a rookie.
One year is not enough to get a fair view on a draft class, but it’s still important to examine how guys did as rookies. Recently, NFL.com’s Conor Orr took a look back at each team’s draft class from a year ago and re-graded them. For the Colts, he gave their 2016 draft class a C a year later. Here’s what he wrote:
This was general manager Ryan Grigson's final draft and he started out with a bang. Center Ryan Kelly should be a 10-year starter for this organization; Andrew Luck's version of Jeff Saturday. From there, the 2016 draft depended on your ability to be optimistic. Fifth-round pick Joe Haeg had to play a lot of football in Year 1 and did so at a solid level. The former North Dakota State standout was on the field for almost 1,000 snaps (behind only Anthony Castonzo and Kelly among O-linemen). Third-round pick Le'Raven Clark did not come on until the end of the season and seems more like a long-term project for this coaching staff -- something Luck obviously doesn't need happening live in front of him right now. The Colts always seemed like a team where the ideas of the general manager did not mesh with the philosophy of the coaching staff, which makes a draft like this incredibly hard to grade. Still, there are teams that whiffed altogether on the first-round pick, and Indianapolis did not do so.
For comparison within the AFC South, the C grade was actually the worst of all the AFC South teams, as the Texans got a C+, the Jaguars got a B, and the Titans got a B+. But that doesn’t mean the Colts’ class was a bad one, and a C is pretty fair. It was a very solid class, but not yet a spectacular one.
Ryan Kelly looks to be the center of the future and had a good rookie season, and he was exactly the player the Colts thought he was when they draft him - which is a good thing. He was easily the best of the draft class, but Joe Haeg was a bright spot too. He had an up and down rookie season, but he played far more than anyone expected and showed some promise. Even Le’Raven Clark, who’s a big project player, improved quite a bit from preseason to the final few weeks of the regular season when he started. T.J. Green was a disappointment, but he too is a project player - so the Colts have to hope he’ll improve with more work and coaching.
Indy’s 2016 draft wasn’t that exciting, but it was one they needed. The Colts needed to add as much offensive linemen as possible, and they got a good one in Ryan Kelly plus a couple of guys (Haeg, Clark, and Austin Blythe) who have potential. It wasn’t great, but it was very solid - and for Ryan Grigson and the Colts, that’s not a bad thing.