Short of 2012, there wasn’t a lot to like about former Colts GM Ryan Grigson, or his draft picks. His legacy with the Colts will be one of repeatedly missing on players while simultaneously overpaying for free agents on the wrong side of their prime. Oh, and being pretty universally hated inside the building. Ultimately, his failure to put worthy offensive linemen in front of Luck and his inability to draft well on the other side of the ball led to his firing after the 2016 season.
Perhaps no move Grigson made frustrated Colts fans as much as his selection of wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round of the 2015 draft. While the trade of the Colts 2014 first round pick for Trent Richardson was a huge miss, at the time that it happened, many fans and analysts liked it. The same cannot be said for the selection of Dorsett.
The selection of a wide receiver with the Colts’ first pick in the 2015 draft was universally reviled by fans. Not only was wide receiver not viewed as a pressing need, but Dorsett bore striking similarity in stature and ability to what the Colts already had in T.Y. Hilton. To compound matters, Hilton was entering the last year of his contract and was expected to get a well-deserved payday. The move felt more like a flex to be able to leverage against Hilton in contract negotiations than one based on need.
That wasn’t lost on Hilton either, and he understandably wasn’t thrilled about it. When asked to comment he did not have a lot of positive praise for the move.
”Nothing in this league should surprise anybody. (It’s) a pick that they thought we needed, so I guess that’s what we needed to help this team.”
For his part, Dorsett did have his speed going for him. What became clear very quickly, however, was that he wasn’t well-developed anywhere else. His NFL debut saw him muff two punts, one of which was recovered by the Bills. This did not endear him to fans, who were already annoyed with his selection.
Throughout the remainder of his time with the Colts, the disappointment in him was less about the fact that he made mistakes so much as that he simply had no impact on games at all. While he showed up here and there in a few games, his presence went largely unnoticed on the Colts offense. With defenses keying off on the prodigious Hilton, and Donte Moncrief struggling through two seasons with injury issues, Dorsett never managed to make himself relevant. In 2016 he was constantly challenged for his starting role by Chester Rogers, a rookie undrafted free agent who signed with the team that offseason.
Once Grigson was fired, Dorsett‘s days were numbered. GM Chris Ballard took the measure of him upon arriving in Indy and quickly traded him to New England for Jacoby Brissett, giving the Colts one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. The fact that the most valuable contribution that the Colts received from Dorsett was by way of his trade says just about all you need to know about the situation.
But what if the Colts hadn’t selected Phillip Dorsett with their 29th pick?What if they had selected safety Landon Collins instead? Collins was the guy being most commonly projected to the Colts. They were sorely lacking in defensive playmakers, and desperately needed a versatile player who could come up and be a menace in the box as well as a threat back in coverage.
All Collins has done since joining the Giants is become a two time pro bowler, first team all-pro, and showcase himself as one of the best safeties in the NFL. And he was selected just four spots after Dorsett.
On a team with very few marquee names among its defense, Collins would have been an immediate upgrade at the safety position. While we all like Clayton Geathers, who was selected in the fourth round that same year, few would attempt to argue that he is better suited to the position than Collins. Pairing Landon Collins and Malik Hooker together would have had the makings of one of the most dangerous safety groups in the league as well.
This draft was not Grigson’s worst, but at this stage, only Clayton Geathers and Denzelle Good remain on the roster from that class. When you consider that the Colts also selected D’Joun Smith in the third round, 21 spots ahead of all-pro running back David Johnson, it becomes even more frustrating.
It is tough to imagine an offense that has David Johnson paired with T.Y. Hilton and Andrew Luck, and a defense that has the back end held down by Hooker and Collins. The evidence says that Grigson and Pagano still wouldn’t really have known what to do with that kind of talent, so things likely worked out for the best, but oh what could have been!