Every team’s decision-makers say that, of course. They speak in similar terms, that the rookie class has talent, character and great potential. Only time will tell how much expectations are met.
In the case of the Colts, they received media scrutiny for using a first-round selection on Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. He’s a talented player, but most analysts expected the team to use the 29th overall choice on a defensive player or offensive tackle.
While subjective draft grades vary based on the analyst suggesting the letter, most liked what the Colts did more on Day 2, when they added Florida Atlantic University cornerback D’Joun Smith and Stanford defensive end Henry Anderson in the third round.
After that, the Colts drafted Central Florida safety Clayton Geathers in the fourth round, Stanford nose tackle David Parry in the fifth, Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson and Georgia inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera in the sixth round and Mars Hill offensive tackle Denzelle Good.
“We all had great consensus on all these players, everyone in the building pretty much,” Grigson said. “Feel really good about them as people, as football players, as competitors and we believe they’re all producers.”
Pagano added, “The board, it’s as good of a board as I’ve ever been around or seen. The way it was picked, I mean, everything came off according to the grades. These guys were spot on with every single one of them. We feel really fortunate to have gotten the guys that we got. We addressed needs. We didn’t have to reach. Again, the board fell the way we wanted it to.”
That the Colts didn’t draft an offensive tackle early suggests they’re confident right tackle Gosder Cherilus will bounce back from injuries that limited his effectiveness last season. And even if Cherilus has issues, Grigson said the team has solid backup options, including Joe Reitz, who was re-signed.
“But we feel confident in what we have,” Grigson said.
That includes the defensive line, an obvious need, considering the team didn’t re-sign defensive end and vocal leader Cory Redding and released defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois. The Colts added outside linebacker Trent Cole and Kendall Langford in free agency, then drafted Anderson and Parry.
“Absolutely,” Pagano said. “I think you’ve got proven players like (Kendall) Langford and Trent Cole coming in. They’re going to do nothing but help you. You add Henry (Anderson) and (David) Parry, two smart, tough guys.
“As you know and I know and Ryan knows, it starts up front. It starts in the trenches. You have to win that war on both sides of the football, and I think we’ve gotten better on both sides of the football.”
Robinson, 5-8 and 217, was targeted after a top-30 workout because he fits the desired running style, low to the ground with a strong center of gravity.
“To put up the yards he did in the SEC with a 6.3-yard average, that speaks for itself in that conference,” Grigson said. “We’ve done well with those SEC backs in the past. It’s going to be competitive like it’s going to be at a lot of other groups in camp.”
The team remains hopeful that running back Vick Ballard will be able to get back on the field for June mini-camp. He’s coming off back-to-back seasons on injured reserve. The Colts have Frank Gore as the No. 1 back with Dan Herron and Zurlon Tipton as capable backups.
Dorsett’s addition means a talented group of receivers competing for playing time. T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson are the obvious leaders, but Dorsett will compete against second-year pro Donte Moncrief and rookie Duron Carter, among others.
“There are a ton of guys there,” Pagano said.
Grigson spoke about Good, who was at two regional combines and then impressed in a workout. He scored 30 on the Wonderlic test, and after his workout, the Division II prospect dunked basketballs effortlessly, an indication of the big man’s athleticism.
Grigson reiterated he likes the team makeup.
“I do. I honestly do,” he said. “I think, even if we just look at our picks today, and you kind of put those up against the free agents we got, different but similar. All these guys we’ve taken, they all really care. That’s one common thread. They all really care. They care about the name on the back of their jersey. They care about the level of greatness they’re going to achieve. They all want to be great, and they’re all pretty smart guys. Collectively with the draft picks and the guys we got in free agency, I think they all want to win and be great.”
Pagano added, “Team guys. Team guys. All competitive guys. All want to win.”
Round 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.