Indianapolis Colts: Grading the Draft


Apr 26, 2013; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks before the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL Draft concluded Saturday, and with it brought six new Indianapolis Colts, carefully selected by the team’s scouts, along with General Manager Ryan Grigson. Ultimately, the success of this draft for Indianapolis will not be determined for several years, when these players fully develop (or don’t) into experienced NFL players, but here’s how I would grade the picks for the Colts this year:

Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida St) – Rd 1, Pick 24

When drafting, teams must decide whether to select the best available player or a player that meets a need. With Werner, the Colts did both. Ryan Grigson admitted that he did not expect Werner to be available by the time the Colts were on the clock, so he jumped at the opportunity to draft him. Werner could be a nice future replacement for Dwight Freeney, though he has big shoes to fill to live up to the fierce pass rusher. Though I might have gone for an offensive lineman here to protect the often-pressured Andrew Luck, the elite tackles were long gone by the time Colts drafted in the first round. This is a very solid pick.  Grade: A-

Hugh Thornton (OG, Illinois) – Rd 3, Pick 86

The Colts did not have a second round pick, but they got a second-round value with Thornton. Thornton is a very strong, physical, and versatile player with tremendous upside and great character. He has to work on his lateral speed, but he should be able to start right away. Andrew Luck should be very happy with this pick. Grade: A

Khaled Holmes (C, USC) – Rd 4, Pick 121

This pick confused me a little bit. While the Colts need help up front, they already have A.Q. Shipley and Samson Satele at the center position. Holmes also battled through several injuries his senior season. However, in 2011, Homes was part of a line that allowed the 2nd-fewest sacks in college football. When he wasn’t on the field, USC struggled protecting their quarterback at the time, Matt Barkley (drafted Saturday by Philadelphia). Holmes definitely has promise if he can stay healthy, and perhaps he can play at guard, too. Grade: C

Montori Hughes (DT, Tennessee-Martin) – Rd 5, Pick 139

The Colts traded up to snag Montori Hughes, and the defensive tackle definitely has more talent than a fifth-round pick would suggest. But he has had consistency and character issues in the past, having been dismissed from the University of Tennessee in 2011. However, after joining the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks, he turned things around, playing in every game from 2011-2012 and recording 31 tackles, four sacks, and 13 QB hurries in his senior season. Grigson really dug deep into the trenches for this pick, and if he can motivate Hughes to work hard and reach his full potential, this could prove to be a great move. Grade: C+

John Boyett (SS, Oregon) – Rd 6, Pick 192

Boyett was part of an elite program at Oregon. In his junior season, he led the Ducks in tackles and was second-team All Pac-12 . However, his senior season ended early in 2012, when he needed surgery to repair partial tears in both patella tendons. If Boyett can return to prior form, he can be a great addition to the Colts defense. A low-risk, high-reward pick that fulfills a need (Bethea and Lefeged’s contracts are up after next season). Grade: B

Kerwynn Williams (RB, Utah St) – Rd 7, Pick 230

I was hoping the Colts would draft a running back at some point, and that’s just what they did with their first of two seventh-round picks. Kerwynn Williams is sure to play on special teams as a kick returner, something the Colts desperately need. He’s a proven pass catcher and he’s quick, having run a very strong 4.48 in the 40. On the downside, he struggles when blocking, and one glaring line in his NFL Draft Profile concerns me: “Fumbles when hit after immediately taking the handoff.” Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Grade: C

Justice Cunningham (TE, South Carolina) – Rd 7, Pick 254

For the second year in a row, the Colts had the last pick in the draft and the honor of choosing Mr. Irrelevant. This year, the distinction went to Justice Cunningham, a 6’3″ tight end from the University of South Carolina. Cunningham could be used a blocker, but he doesn’t fit the traditional Colts mold of a pass-catching tight end like former Colt Dallas Clark and the now sophomore Colts Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. With two young tight ends already on the roster, I’m not sure why exactly the Colts went with Cunningham. I would have rather seen them take a corner. Grade: C-

Final Grade: B

This was a good draft for the Colts, but not a great one. I really wish the team would have drafted a cornerback. Otherwise though, they did a good job of balancing best available with need. Combined with the free agent signings already made this offseason, the Colts have upgraded several key areas on their roster. Training camp should be a good and competitive one. I look forward to seeing these players develop and contribute to the Horseshoe!

Post-draft Note: Following the draft, the Colts signed Daxton Swanson, a cornerback from San Diego State, as an undrafted free agent. Since the move was not officially part of the draft, my grade will remain the same, but I’m really glad the Colts addressed this need. They must have heard me!