The Indianapolis Colts used four out of their eight draft selections on offensive linemen, putting a clear emphasis that the team wants to protect quarterback Andrew Luck.
Indianapolis Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson may have saved face with the 2016 NFL Draft for the Colts. Rather than going by his ‘best player available’ strategy as he’s done in years past, he took the smarter route and addressed a major need for the Colts.
Colts fans watched anxiously as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell read off the Colts’ selection.
“With the 18th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Ryan Kelly, center, Alabama.”
Rest assured, every single one of those same fans who watched Grigson make the pick to take Kelly at No. 18 let out a major sigh of relief when they realized that Kelly, a consensus first team All-American his senior season at Alabama, would be the Colt’s new center for years to come and provide a good deal of stability amongst an offensive line that nearly got Luck killed during the 2015 campaign.
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But Grigson wasn’t quite done addressing the offensive line. He would go on to select tackle Le’Raven Clark, Joe Haeg and center Austin Blythe throughout the remainder of the draft.
Clark was named a 2nd team All-American at Texas Tech in 2015, Haeg was a member of the North Dakota State offensive line that helped win four-straight FCS National Championship games and had the responsibility of protecting Carson Wentz, the second-overall pick of this year’s draft.
Blythe was a four-year starter for the Iowa Hawkeyes and not only played center, but both left guard and right guard amongst the Hawkeye’s offensive line.
Kelly will without a doubt be the Colt’s week-one starter at center, and while it remains unclear whether or not the other three linemen that Grigson drafted will hold starting spots on the roster early on in the season, the selections will give the Colts much-needed depth behind the line.
Over the span of his four-year career, Luck has quickly become one of the most-hit quarterbacks in the league. Time and time again would he have little time to make a good throw which would result in a bad pass and/or an interception.
Here’s a little insight as to why the 2016 draft for Grigson may have been possibly his smartest and best draft since 2012: Prior to this year’s draft, Grigson has drafted just six offensive linemen. Out of those six linemen drafted, arguably just one of them has worked out and succeeded. Such is the case with guard Jack Mewhort out of Ohio State. Grigson drafted Mewhort in the second-round of the 2014 NFL Draft and since then, Mewhort has provided the Colts with a reliable linemen on the left side of the line alongside Anthony Castonzo.
Many expected Colts owner Jim Irsay to relieve Grigson of his duties shortly after the 2015 season concluded and reports that he and head coach Chuck Pagano weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on some things, but Grigson perhaps pleaded his case to Irsay and vowed to better work with Pagano in the future for the betterment of the team.
While that’s all mere speculation regarding last season’s front-office drama, one thing that is certain is that Grigson has certainly helped his case and done his job to restore patience with both Colts fans and Irsay.
Grigson will have to wait until the regular season to truly prove that he’s been making all of the right moves, but taking the necessary steps in order to protect the franchise player is a good start.