The Colts: A Team of Transition..

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The Colts have churned through their roster since their infamous 2-14 season.  General Manger, Ryan Grigson has been wheeling and dealing in order to change a roster than was significantly flawed.  Peyton Manning was able to hide a lot of the issues the front office created.  Look, it’s hard to completely blame the previous regime, as they were largely constrained by having one of the greatest quarterbacks on the roster of all time (if that’s really a problem).  A large portion (probably too large) was focused on the offense, except a few key defensive personnel.  But, the Polians (Bill & Chris) also missed on too many draft picks especially in the early rounds of the draft towards the end. They also largely view free-agents non-existentially. Grigson’s record is harder to judge based on the short time period he has be calling the shots.  Year one was really impressive, year two looks to be mediocre, and year three is too new-yet many have panned it already.  He has also not been afraid to makes trades and sign free agents.  These models seemed to be polar opposites.   So, what can we make of all this? Let’s look a little closer.

Let’s look at the 2010 Draft Class:

1st Round, 31 overall: Jerry Hughes-Traded to Buffalo last Year for Kelvin Sheppard (2011 3rd, 68 overall).

2nd Round, 63 overall: Pat Angerer-Not re-signed after 2013 season, recently signed a one year contract with Atlanta.

3rd Round, 93 overall: Kevin Thomas-Traded to Philadelphia in 2012 for 2013 seventh round draft pick, and Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd, Jr. (neither is with the team).

4th Round, 129 overall: Jacques McClendon, 1 season with the team.

5th Round, 162 overall: Brody Eldridge, waived in May 2012.

7th Round, 238 overall: Ricardo Matthews, played 2010-2013 with the team, not signed after 2013 season.

7th Round, 240 overall: Kavell Conner, played 2010-2013 with the team, not signed after 2013 season.

7th Round, 246 overall: Ray Fisher, signed May 2010, released Sept 2010.

2011 Draft Class:

1st Round, 22 overall: Anthony Castonzo, still on roster, team picked up 5th year option through 2015.

2nd Round, 49 overall: Ben Ijalana, played 4 games in 2011 then injured ACL, sent to IR, 2012 camp tore ACL, placed on season ending injured reserve, claimed by Jets off waivers.

3rd Round, 87 overall: Drake Nevis, played 2011 & 2012 with team, released Sept 2013.

4th Round, 119 overall: Delone Carter, played 2011 & 2012 with team traded to Baltimore in

August 2013 for David Reed (No longer with the team)

6th Round, 188: Chris Rucker, played 2011 season with Colts, cut August 2012.

These were the last two draft classes by the Polians, and out of all these, Anthony Castonzo is starting and has played relatively well at Left Tackle.   Kelvin Sheppard also is still with the team, as he came over via the Jerry Hughes Trade.  That’s pretty much it. To be fair the 2009 draft class brought us the following Players:Donald Brown, Fili Moala, Jerraud Powers, Austin Collie, Terrance Taylor, Curtis Painter, Pat McAfee, and Jamie Thomas.  McAfee and Moala (I.R.) are on the roster, and Donald Brown signed with San Diego this off-season. Powers and Collie left after the 2012 season to play with Arizona and New England respectively.

Those currently on the roster from the 2011 team includes the following players:

  1. Reggie Wayne
  2. Anthony Castonzo
  3. Joe Reitz
  4. Robert Mathis
  5. Fili Moala (IR)
  6. Pat McAfee
  7. Adam Vinatieri

That’s it for carry over from the Pre-Grigson era.

Now lets look at Grigson’s drafts.

2012:

1st Round, 1 overall: Andrew Luck-not going anywhere anytime soon.
2nd Round, 34 overall: Coby Fleener-in 3rd year of rookie contract.
3rd Round, 64 overall: Dwayne Allen-in 3rd year of rookie contract.
3rd Round, 92 overall: T.Y. Hilton-in 3rd year of rookie contract.
5th Round, 136 overall: Josh Chapman-in 3rd year of rookie contract.

5th Round, 170 overall: Vick Ballard-in 3rd year of rookie contract (on I.R.)

6th Round, 206 overall: LaVon Brazill-Played 2012 & 2013 with team, (Suspended 1 year by the league for failing drug policy for second time, released in July 2014)

7th Round, 208 overall: Justin Anderson-On Roster 2012 into 2013 (I.R. then waived February 2013)

7th Round, 214 overall: Tim Fugger-on the team during the 2012 season, then waived.

7th Round, 253, Chandler Harnish-on team with practice squad in 2012 & 2013, going into third season.

From this draft class all but: Justin Anderson,Tim Fugger, and LaVon Brazill are still with the team.  To say that Grigson nailed this draft is an understatement.  T.Y Hilton has met if not exceeded expectations.  He has developed in to a bonafide play-maker, and has has improved each year on the team.   Dwayne Allen is trending towards being one the league’s best tight ends followed by Coby Fleener who had a solid sophomore season after a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign.  Josh Chapman basically red-shirted his rookie season due to injuries, and didn’t impress last season but the team is looking for him to be the run-stuffer they thought he could be this season.  Vick Ballard played above a rookie level his first season only to end up I.R. the following seasons.  I suspect we haven’t seen the last of him.  Chandler Harnish is at a crossroads this season, he only eligible for the practice squad this year if he doesn’t make the final roster.  The team would like nothing more than to have him backing up Luck, but he has to play better and more consistently than the last two seasons.

2013:

1st Round, 24 overall: Bjoern Werner-second year with the team.

3rd Round, 86 overall: Hugh Thornton-second year with the team.

4th Round, 121 overall: Khaled Holmes-second year with the team.

5th Round, 139 overall: Montori Hughes-second year with the team.

6th Round, 192 overall:  John Boyett-signed May 19, 2013 then placed on non-football injury list July 23, waived in September after off the field issue.

7th Round, 230 overall: Kerwynn Williams-made 53 man roster and then sent to down to practice squad, back to the roster then to practice squad again, released.

7th Round, 254 overall: Justice Cunningham-mad 53 man roster, waived in September to practice squad, the promoted in November only to be released shortly after.

This class may not pop out like the 2012 class, but the top half of the draft class is still with team, some of which are expected to play key positions this year.  Werner by all accounts has been having a great camp thus far, and the team is hoping he can fill the void left by Robert Mathis sitting out the first four games.  Khaled Holmes may be the biggest spotlight player this season.  The team has made him the starting center, and the expectations are that he will produce.  If he doesn’t there isn’t really a solid player there to take over.  Thornton is fighting for a starting guard spot and Hughes is expected to have a bigger role this year.

2014:

2nd Round, 59th overall: Jack Mewhort-in contention for possible starting guard spot.

3rd Round, 90th overall: Donte Moncrief-will see some game time action behind the other veteran receives but may be returning kickoffs.

5th Round, 166th overall: Jonathon Newsome-With Robert Mathis’ absence for the first four games, if he shows something in preseason may get a shot on the roster, if not practice squad probable.

6th Round, 203rd overall: Andrew Jackson-Will have to impress in preseason to make the regular season roster with depth of current linebackers, practice squad probable this year.

7th Round, 232nd overall: Ulrick John-not expected to crack the final roster, practice squad in his future.

It much more difficult to project how the rookies will factor in this season, but Jack Mewhort and Donte Moncrief should have the best shot of contributing this season.  Mewhort has been getting work with the first team along with the others on the line battling for the starting spot.  Moncrief has the difficult challenge of unseating some of the mainstay veterans-so his route will likely be situational passing plays. He also has been working on special teams returning kicks.  Don’t rule him out however, if injuries happen he would likely slide up the ladder quickly on depth chart.

Trades, Finds, etc…

One of the biggest moves early on was Grigson acquiring Vontae Davis from the Miami Dolphins for a second round pick.  Vontae just signed a new contract and has played well enough to most likely warrant it. Although at times he has played inconsistently, Davis is by far the best player in the secondary. Another starter that Grigson brought in was CFL defensive player award winner, Jerrell Freeman.  Freeman grabbed the spot from his impressive training camp in 2012 and has not looked back.  His second season improved in almost every category including an increase in sacks from 2 to 5.5.  Probably the biggest and most controversial move consisted of acquiring the 2012 Draft’s 3rd pick overall, Trent Richardson in a trade from Cleveland .  Grigson gave up the 2014 Colts first round pick in order to obtain Richardson just three games into the 2013 season.  Last season looked to be a one-sided deal in Cleveland’s favor. Trent did not  have a good season to put it mildly.  This is a big year for him, if he rebounds the trade will be looked at differently than it currently is.

Other finds include Daniel Adongo, Rugby Star who never saw much football but is converting to OLB/DE.  Adongo cracked the roster at the end of the season on special teams, and still seems to be learning the game.  Erik Swoope played basketball at the University of Miami but is trying to convert to tight end, without having an formal football experience.  He looks to be another practice squad player with potential to move up if need be.  Other names of interest: Cory ReddingDarius Butler, Josh Gordy, Henoc Muamba, Jack Doyle, Weslye Saunders, Stanley Havili, Erick Walden, Ricky Jean Francois, Ahmad Bradshaw and recent signings Hakeem Nicks, D’Qwell Jackson, and Arthur Jones, Grigson has supplemented the roster with players that are good fits for their system coming in as free agents.  He has shown a proclivity to finding players where not many others have looked.

It’s quite amazing the amount of players the front office has brought into overhaul a once dominant but flawed team under Manning.  Grigson has made some very good moves and also had to make some difficult decisions like letting the likes of: Dwight Freeney, Jerraud Powers, Pat Angerer, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, and Donald Brown go.  Also, don’t forget players they have cut bait on like: Samson Satele,  Winston Justice, and Mike McGlynn, just to name a few, There are times as fans we think player “A” should be on the team or player “B” shouldn’t be, but up to this point the front office seems to be making more right decisions instead of the wrong ones, and doing so, makes all the difference.   Shaping the roster is a complicated balancing act, one that produces many unseen issues, but good front offices’ are able to plan for most of these ahead of time.  Back-to-back 12-4 seasons is really incredible, especially when you look at all the players that have shuffled in and out.  Year three brings in more new faces, but also another year for those that are the core to have more familiarity with the team and players.  Yes, Grigson has made many, many moves, but it seems to be paying off.  Let’s hope the shuffle slows down with hopefully some solid additions this year.

Looking Past Ballard

Dreadful news came out of Colts training camp Friday afternoon that left a bad taste in many mouths and unsettling feelings for a few. Vick Ballard, the third-year running back from Mississippi State, suffered his second season-ending injury in as many years.

On Saturday, Chuck Pagano confirmed that Ballard had indeed suffered a torn left Achilles tendon which ended his season before it began. Ballard’s injury occurred when he made a catch during a non-contact drill and came up limping immediately. An MRI Friday night confirmed the Colts’ worst fears.

To fill Ballard’s shoes the Colts signed Davin Meggett, which eliminated the hope of signing a veteran running back. Meggett, an undrafted free agent from Maryland, has bounced around multiple practice squads, which included a previous stint with the Colts. Continue reading

Training Camp Crib Sheet

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The 2013 season is in the rearview mirror now that the Colts have arrived at training camp in Anderson leading up to the 2014 season.  This team will take on a shape and form of it’s own, although many of the pieces will remain intact.  So what should we focus on while the team is practicing in Anderson?  That’s what I have outlined below, sort of a crib sheet like you used to use when taking a test in school (not that any of us ever did that).

Continue reading

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