INDIANAPOLIS – This seemed like old times, with owner Jim Irsay in the house, bringing energy, and the Indianapolis Colts adding protection and a wide receiver for the benefit of their franchise quarterback.
The Colts had two picks in the NFL Draft on Friday – No. 59 overall in the second round and No. 90 overall in the third – and they went offense, picking Ohio State lineman Jack Mewhort and Mississippi wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
The suggestion was made that these were picks with quarterback Andrew Luck in mind, and Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn't have much of a beef with that perception.
“I think as long as (Luck's) healthy and upright and he's got great protection and enough weapons surrounding him, we'll probably be here for a long time,” Pagano said. “Our goal from Day One when I talked to Ryan (Grigson) and Mr. Irsay, our goal and vision has never changed, and it's to build a program for sustained success and win…multiple championships. We got two more pieces of the puzzle to get us there.”
Mewhort is a 6-foot-6, 309-pound lineman who played primarily tackle at Ohio State, but could move around the line. Moncrief is a 6-2, 224-pound wide receiver who brings a bigger body to an already seemingly strong receiving corps.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said the team entertained trade offers, but said both players were the right picks at the right time.
“When the picks came, our guys were there both times,” Grigson said.
The presence of Irsay brought extra lift to the draft room, Grigson said. Irsay, shown onscreen by NFL Network, recently exited a health-care facility after his arrest for suspicion of driving while under the influence. He took to his favorite social media site, Twitter, to thank Colts fans for their support.
Then, apparently, he made sure Grigson and Pagano were sold on their Mewhort and Moncrief.
“He brings great energy and football wisdom,” Grigson said. “He knows how to push my buttons to see if I'm really feeling it. He looks you in the eye and wants to feel the passion that you really want that guy. He has a great feel for that kind of thing.”
Mewhort started his last 39 games at Ohio State, helping the Buckeyes to school records in points, touchdowns and rushing yards last season. The honors poured in, from Big Ten All-Conference to All-American, as Mewhort compiled 24 touchdown-resulting blocks.
Mewhort's versatility was a selling point, but Pagano pointed to something more visceral: His attitude. Pagano called him a “horseshoe guy,” who fits the team's culture well.
“What I love is he's nasty, he's tough,” Pagano said, “and you've got to have that on the offensive line.”
Moncrief led Mississippi in receiving yards for three straight seasons, turning pro after this junior year. He has size, certainly, but also speed, having clocked a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, third-fastest among receivers at the event.
As a sophomore two years ago, Moncrief caught 10 touchdown passes, with five of at least 50 yards.
“He's done a lot at a high level and he's still young,” Grigson said. “He still has things to learn. We interviewed him at the combine. He had a great combine. He's a great worker and he's going to come in here and learn.”
Moncrief said in a conference call that he loves to block, which isn't always the first comment in any conversation with a wide receiver.
“I think they liked what they saw with my work ethic,” Moncrief said.
Grigson said he looked at a number of trade possibilities, including giving up the second- or third-round pick to pick up more later-round picks, but felt the team got what they wanted with their two picks on Friday.
“We felt good with the guys who were there,” Grigson said. “We feel we got tremendous value.”