Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson reiterated his “best player available” philosophy about the upcoming NFL Draft Thursday, although he conceded the injury status of some players could impact what needs are addressed.
After acknowledging this year’s draft is deep in defensive linemen, the topic of conversation in the 30-minute discussion turned to offensive right tackle Gosder Cherilus. He missed three regular-season games and then three postseason games due to physical issues that negatively impacted his second season with the team.
Grigson was asked if he was confident the eighth-year pro would be healthy by training camp and, if not, could that impact the general manager’s decisions in the draft, which begins next Thursday in Chicago.
“Like I said before, we’re going to wait and see on a lot of guys. Well, not a lot but with a good handful of guys,” Grigson said. “I get my reports from (trainer) Dave Hammer every week and I read them at different times of the day and I’ll look at it and sometimes call him and talk to our docs to try and get a better read on it. That’s their area of expertise and I have to trust what they have to say and their timeline and sometimes their timeline is off.
“Sometimes if a guy’s rehab hits a sticking point, you just never know. We’ll just keep tabs on it and once you start getting into the field work and seeing guys move around, I’m not a doctor but I can at least tell with a naked eye if a guy’s movement looks right. You guys even see it when guys are gimpy or a guy’s movement doesn’t mirror what you’ve seen in the past. If a guy’s not healthy, you can tell.”
The team boss suggested a “June-ish” timetable for Cherilus being healthy or “hopefully sooner.”
Cherilus, 30, is entering the third year of a five-year, $35-million contract with $15.5 million guaranteed. That qualifies as a long-term investment — cutting him early would be a significant salary cap hit because the deal was cap friendly in the beginning. He counted just $3.9 million against the cap in each of the first two seasons.
Cherilus was placed on injured reserve before the playoffs due to a groin injury. He also battled knee problems during the season. He didn’t miss a game in three seasons before 2014, but was sidelined for eight in his first three seasons.
“I don’t want to go into detail about a guy’s medical history but ‘Gos' is as tough as they come,” Grigson said. “If he’s going to be back at 100 percent, he has the mindset to do that, there’s no doubt about it, and the toughness. We’ve just got to see if his body is going to cooperate.”
Grigson was asked if the tackle’s decline in performance last season was strictly due to physical hinderances.
“We all have a bar that is set in this organization, from the top down, including myself,” the general manager said. “Everyone has to play at a very high level, especially at that tackle position. But there’s a lot of different reasons why guys can’t be successful and isn’t quite playing at a certain level that he’s capable of. We don’t make excuses. I know Gos doesn’t.”
Some mock drafts have suggested the Colts might select an offensive tackle, presumably as a replacement for Cherilus, although offensive left tackle Anthony Castonzo is entering a contract year and will be expensive to re-sign. Head coach Chuck Pagano has said Castonzo is the team’s best offensive lineman.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.