Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson met with the media Thursday afternoon to talk about the off-season and the upcoming NFL Draft, and as you can imagine, this time around he seemed a little bit more at ease. Who could blame him? After all, this time around Grigson didn’t have the entire weight of the franchise on his shoulders with the number-one pick of the draft and having to replace the franchise’s star quarterback in Peyton Manning.
Similar to his first round pick Andrew Luck, who had a stellar rookie season, Grigson did as well as the Colts improved under his first season to an 11-5 record and a playoff birth. Now entering his second go-around as a general manager in the Draft with the 24th pick, Grigson seemed excited and enthused about the opportunity laying ahead of him to improve the franchise in seven days.
“It is obvious that I’m in a way different place from last year with the whole process,” said Grigson.
“Chuck (Pagano) and I have looked at the landscape as compared to last year after free agency and it looks a whole lot different. We have solidified some areas, and we have created some competition in the position groups which is what we have always wanted to do, Chuck and I since we started this thing. We are just getting closer to that goal. I would say we have the same philosophy, but it is a little bit different from last year when we had the spots that needed to be addressed with the new defense and so forth. We feel like we are in a better position.”
Grigson would note that essentially outside the quarterback position, the Colts have been completely open to evaluating and drafting from all positions on the field. He also believes that the draft is improved this year from last year in the positions on the offensive line, defensive line, and secondaries.
“I would say the game is lost and won in the trenches,” said Grigson. “This is a really good trench draft. I think there is a lot of good players on both sides of the ball in terms of linemen.”
As in terms if Dwight Freeney’s replacement, a player that spent twelve years with the Colts on the defensive line, is currently on the Colts or in the Draft, Grigson replied with a bit of excited uncertainty.
“I would say right now we are still finding that out,” said Grigson.
“Dwight was a great, great player here. Also, I think he was a great pass-rusher. I think with having Robert (Mathis) and Dwight, I don’t know with them being here so long, that maybe we were a little spoiled because we had two elite pass-rushers. Not many teams have two, and sometimes teams are just looking for one. So right now, our focus is, I don’t know if I feel like as an organization, and Chuck (Pagano) I know he doesn’t feel like from his defensive standpoint that he doesn’t want people to run the ball down our throat anymore. I don’t want to be sitting there having people drop three-hundred plus yards on us, and I sure as heck know that our head coach doesn’t want that. We have implemented a mentality in our players of stopping the run, getting off the blocks, getting to the football, setting the edge, and I know you have heard that a lot. That is something when we saw in Erik Walden right off the bat, and we feel like we have some younger guys that you may not know their names yet that are developing in the shadows as pass-rushers.”
Grigson didn’t necessarily tip his hand in any way, shape, or form on which direction the Colts maybe heading into into Draft day, but he did make one thing pretty clear. The Colts organization is interested in players that want to make an impact on the team.
“Will they work at it? Do they want to be a pro? Sometimes you have a player in front of you that you completely have pegged wrong. You think he is a go-getter, and a guy chomping at the bit to be out there. And then when you get him in front of you and you ask what are you going to do next year, and he says ‘I’m just hoping to make the team.’ Here is a guy you are thinking is a high pick. That is not the kind of mindset you want in the first round with your first rounder that is satisfied in having a paycheck in the wings for three years. You want the guy that is hungry.”