Mewhort Felt Like Colts' First-Round Pick

Ohio State had two players taken in the first round of the NFL draft, but one more player was the first choice of an NFL team. Offensive lineman Jack Mewhort was the first player taken by the Indianapolis Colts, who said afterward that they felt the three-year starter at OSU felt like a first-round choice.

Having acquired Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a first-round pick last September, the Indianapolis Colts went into last weekend's NFL draft without a choice in Thursday night's opening round.

But the Colts left their draft feeling like they got a first-round talent in Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort.

"We had him earmarked," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said after the team selected Mewhort in the second round. "The board was set. The plan was in place, and even though we didn't have (a first-round pick), we felt like we had one and a good one that we would take 1,000 times over at No. 26, right?"

And that's exactly what happened when the Colts took Mewhort, with general manager Ryan Grigson telling the former OSU lineman on the phone, "You've been our guy for a long time. You're gonna fit in well here. We're really excited to have you. You're gonna help us protect Andrew Luck and win us multiple championships."

That was music to the ears of Mewhort, who went 59th overall to the Colts.

"I think it's an awesome fit," Mewhort said. "It's a short drive for my parents; I'm sure they'll want to get to as many games as possible. I'm a Midwest guy, born and raised. I think Indianapolis will be a great fit for me. We obviously got to play in Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten championship. It didn't turn out the way we wanted to, and then I was back for the combine, so I know it's a beautiful place and a place I'm really going to enjoy playing the next couple of years."

Mewhort will likely fit in with the Colts after a decorated Ohio State career. A four-star prospect out of Toledo St. John's, Mewhort redshirted his first season and played sparingly as a sophomore in 2010 before moving into the starting lineup at both left guard and right guard in 2011.

When head coach Urban Meyer took over, Mewhort – in part because of the graduations of tackles Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts – moved to left tackle and started each of his last 26 games there, earning first-team All-America honors this year from and second-team laurels from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Sports Illustrated and the Football Writers Association of America.

"Jack is someone that was obviously a highly recruited guy," Grigson said. "He was a center in high school at 6-6, which is pretty unique, and would redshirt as a center but had really good film at multiple positions, in both guard spots. Heck, we just watched him play the other day as a sophomore against all those high picks at Florida, really played well at guard. Thought he played well at tackle as well. And at the Senior Bowl was the moment where we thought, ‘Wow, this Mewhort guy, he might really rise after that game.'

"So we were really happy. We've really legitimately had him earmarked for a long time and we're really happy we have him. I think he brings versatility, toughness, strength, played at a high level at a high-level program where they're used to winning. So I think he fits our culture very well."

A captain at Ohio State during his senior season, Mewhort figures to be able to fit in with the Indianapolis program as well under Pagano.

"I just think I do things right when no one is watching," he said. "I want to make sure that I spread accountability through the team. I believe that character is doing the right thing when no one is watching. I think it's about bringing guys with you and always doing the right stuff."

How He Fits
Indianapolis must protect star young quarterback Luck, so Mewhort will be a key part of that line going forward.

He figures to start his NFL career on the interior line, and Mewhort made sure teams knew he could play center before the draft. The team signed former Dallas center Phil Costa this offseason but he retired in April, so Mewhort could battle second-year player Khaled Holmes, though it appears Holmes is the front runner for the spot.

He could also provide competition at guard – where second-year player Hugh Thornton (an Illinois alum and fellow Ohioan) was forced into action last year and where Donald Thomas is coming off an injury-plagued campaign – or even play at tackle if the need arises.

Indianapolis used seven different offensive line combinations a year ago, one reason Mewhort was brought in.

"We wanted to get someone like Jack to help solidify our offensive line," Grigson said. "You know how during the season, I forgot the stat even, how many times we ever even had our five starters ever even play together. It's so tough in this league to have continuity on the offensive line because there's so many injuries, and some of the teams that go deep in the playoffs every year, they have tremendous position flexibility and versatility on the offensive line – guys that can play multiple spots. To do that, you need smart guys who know how to play the game, and Jack is one of those guys."

For Mewhort's sake, he's willing to do whatever is asked of him.

"I think I'm a fast learner," he said. "My experience helps. I played a lot of guard and a lot of tackle in college. I played in two different systems at Ohio State. … I'll just dive in full force and go to work."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories