It has been widely acknowledged that Indianapolis Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson has struggled in the late rounds of the draft, as well as in free agency in his first three years at the helm. He has been heavily criticized and doubted by many, including myself, as many of his selections/acquisitions have failed both on and off the field. In fact, of his nine selections in the sixth round or later, only Ulrick John remains with the team in any capacity.
Oct 14, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson talks on a cell phone before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to this offseason, Grigson has had some hits in free agency such as Mike Adams, Cory Redding and Jerrell Freeman — but has also had some colossal misses with the likes of LaRon Landry, Donald Thomas and Trent Richardson just to name a few. To his credit however, he has cut bait on the majority of his misses and has not allowed his ego to get in the way of releasing troublesome players and others who weren’t productive.
Grigson has also been instrumental in re-signing valuable talent, such as Vontae Davis, to well-constructed contracts, maintaining the value of the organization. The 2015 season represents an opportunity for Grigson to possibly change his perception among his critics. The recent pull of successful veterans in free agency including Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Trent Cole, and Kendall Langford will likely go a long way in achieving just that.
These aren’t just big names to add to the roster, they are players who have “done it” and oftentimes have dominated throughout their careers. There is still more work to be done however, as the upcoming draft will be used to fill those holes that remain on either side of the football. Grigson absolutely must hit this year’s selections out of the park to appease the majority of those critics. The most glaring need remaining is obviously at the safety position, due to the fact that the Colts only have one on the current roster deemed as starting caliber.
Other notable areas of need are at inside linebacker, an edge rusher, help along both lines, and cornerback. Running back is also a hot area in which the Colts need to improve for the future, but I’m not convinced they will address it within the first four rounds. Nevertheless, the final three rounds may be where Grigson looks for depth and intriguing projects that he hopes can help long-term — and may not provide immediate return in 2015. It would be a mistake to hastily classify that as a failed draft before the end of the 2016 season however.
As an example, Khaled Holmes never saw the field as a rookie, was limited by injuries last season, but when he played, he was effective and has likely earned himself the starting center role in 2015. Granted Holmes was a fourth-round pick, but the process begets the end result. Grigson appears to be learning as he goes, while aggressively seeking his guys which, if you’re a fan, is what you love to see within his efforts.
Many GM’s never take the gamble on a troubled player, or one that fits the grand scheme, but may not have the eye popping stats. Grigson is not that type of GM and, as a result, he will likely succeed in his daily tasks before many of those, who are too reluctant to make such moves. Grigson will fail again, as everyone in his position will — but his mentality and drive to make this Colts roster Super Bowl ready, will breed success and keep the organization extremely competitive for the foreseeable future.
Feb 19, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports