Grading Grigson: Colts Draft Retention Rate


Indianapolis Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson is entering Year 4 at the helm and has experienced his fair share of highs and lows heading the team’s front office since taking over during the 2012 offseason. With this year’s NFL Draft rapidly approaching on April 30th, what better time than now to look at Grigson’s draft results.

Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Specifically, we’ll take a look at Ryan Grigson‘s draft retention rate from his 2012-14 NFL Draft classes. This rate measures the players that currently remain on the Colts active roster during this time span compared to total overall selections.

While Grigson made the slam dunk decision of selecting quarterback Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, he also found key young players like wideout T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener in Luck’s same draft class.

His 2013 draft class has been largely a disappointment with early picks like pass rusher Bjoern Werner and offensive guard Hugh Thornton being either ineffective or inconsistent in both their overall play and production.

However, Grigson rebounded nicely this past draft, as he found considerable young talent like offensive guard Jack Mewhort, wideout Donte Moncrief, and pass rusher Jonathan Newsome despite not possessing a 1st round pick.

Without further ado, here are the calculated draft retention rates for each NFL team based on their last 3 NFL Draft classes:

What Do These Percentages Indicate?

Well, nothing overly conclusive to the naked eye. Case in point, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the league’s 2nd best draft retention at 87.0% over the past 3 seasons, despite compiling a 9-39 (.188) record during that span. Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks had conversely the league’s 2nd worst draft retention rate at 56.7% with a 36-12 (.750) record during this same span. Of course, the Jaguars have the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft, while the Seahawks are coming off their second straight Super Bowl appearance.

There are several possible theories for this:

  1. Bad Teams Get Better picks: For instance, when a losing team like the Jacksonville Jaguars perpetually drafts in the beginning of each round, there tends to be more “surefire” prospects and less chance of missing on prospects as they’re consistently able to select from the best available talent in each round.
  2. Tough to Crack Established Talent: For a team like the Seattle Seahawks with a well-constructed overall roster filled with established stars and proven veteran talent, it’s harder to earn a roster spot. When the talent level of your roster is already really good, it’s hard to get seemingly better. On the other hand, a roster like the Jaguars is devoid of proven talent, so it presents more of an opportunity for young talent to stick, particularly Day 2-3 selections that may not get as good of a chance with a more established roster like the Seahawks.

What Does It Mean for the Colts?

It’s not overly alarming for General Manager Ryan Grigson and his scouting department, although it could admittedly be better. The Colts fall in-line with the San Francisco 49ers at 63.6% to 63.3%, an organization that has also been one of the best in football over the past 3 seasons despite being surprisingly dismantled this offseason.

The Colts could withstand to do a better job with their Day 3 selections, as only 1 of his 9 selections from Round 6-7 remains from the past 3 seasons. However, it’s certainly nothing to lose sleep over all things considered, as those late rounds are more of a crapshoot than anything.

While the Colts haven’t hit on all of their prospects, when they’ve seemingly hit, they’ve hit pretty well. As mentioned, blue-chip selections like Luck, Hilton, Allen, Fleener, Mewhort, Moncrief, and Newsome are some of the best young players at their respective positions.

Armed with the 29th overall pick for starters in this year’s draft, it’ll be interesting to see if Grigson can build upon last year’s success or whether he’s due for another regression like his 2013 draft class. Of course, Colts fans are clearly hoping for more of the former and less of the latter.

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