The Indianapolis Colts could use another quality safety, but they didn't choose one with any of their five picks in the NFL Draft. Good call.
Sounds contradictory or sarcastic, but it's not. They have a need and didn't fill it. How could that be a positive? General manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano picked two offensive linemen, a wide receiver, a defensive end and an inside linebacker. Colts followers were outraged on Twitter. (It should be noted “outrage” comes free of charge on social media.)
Colts fans shouldn't be outraged or even irritated. Grigson and Pagano passed on a safety because they didn't see one they wanted when the Colts were on the clock.
If they picked a lesser safety just to fill an opening, then that would be outrageous and irresponsible.
I don't know if Grigson has someone following social media comments for him, but his take on opting not to go safety first makes sense.
“If there (are) not the players there that you feel are good enough to pick, you can't pick them,” Grigson said. “If you have guys that are on the roster that are maybe even just a little bit better or maybe those guys that you're looking at possibly drafting are almost the same as the guys you have on your roster, it doesn't really make you any better. There's a small handful of guys in this draft that we felt like we could go get, and there were some, it just didn't happen. But it was not a deep safety class and if there was a safety we liked, we would have (taken) one.”
This won't satisfy the second-guessers, who make blanket assessments of the success of a draft before the players have even reached rookie mini-camp, let alone training camp or an actual game.
This 24/7 era of immediate sports gratification doesn't allow for growth. It doesn't allow for the fact that Robert Mathis was a relative unknown who had to grow into the All-Pro player he is today by scrapping, clawing, playing special teams and doing whatever it took.
I'm not saying Grigson shouldn't be criticized. When the facts are in, media and fans should have at it.
For example: While allowing things could change, the Trent Richardson trade seems like an obvious bad move in retrospect. The Colts could have nabbed a safety with that No.26 pick they sent to Cleveland (who parlayed it into Johnny Manziel, incidentally). But I've admitted before that I thought the Richardson trade was a good one at the time because my perception was that Richardson would become a superstar and was a steal with that late first-round pick.
The Colts still believe in Richardson. Pagano even mentioned Friday night that he was their first-round pick this year. Maybe this year changes the perception.
Addressing the safety spot further, Pagano pointed to Delano Howell as a legitimate starter to fill the hole left by Antoine Bethea signing with the San Francisco 49ers.
“We've got guys in-house that will be great competition there,” Pagano said. “Like Ryan said, you can't (pick) just because of need. I think the thing that's got us to the point we're at right now with our roster and what we have in our locker room and what Ryan's been able to do is you stick to the process and you stay true to your board. You don't just, because of need, go reach and try to grab and fill a need when the value's not there.”
Pagano pointed out the strengthening of the front seven with the addition of linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and defensive lineman Arthur Jones, plus the drafting of defensive end Jonathan Newsome from Ball State and linebacker Andrew Jackson from Western Kentucky. The Colts did pick up five defensive backs among undrafted free agents, including safety Dewey McDonald of California-Pennsylvania.
The Colts' desire to protect quarterback Andrew Luck and improve the offensive line showed in second-round pick Jack Mewhort from Ohio State and Ulrick John from Georgia State. The return to form of Donald Thomas will be a key, as well as the emergence of second-year center Khaled Holmes. Grigson reiterated his belief in Holmes, which is not echoed by the reactionary voices on Twitter, incidentally. But he also picked up undrafted free agent center Jonotthan Harrison from Florida on Sunday.
Thinking outside the box with undrafted player signings, the Colts also added Miami basketball player Erik Swoope (6-5, 220) to convert into a tight end.
I like the addition of another wide receiver in Mississippi's Donte Moncrief. He has nice size (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) and a reputation for reliability, and the Colts have to plan for the post-Reggie Wayne era.
Do the Colts have an immediate need at wide receiver? Not necessarily, and not as immediate as at safety, especially if Wayne returns at full health after knee surgery. The draft is a balance between immediate needs and long-term viability, and the fact remains that Wayne and one-year hire Hakeem Nicks will be free agents after this season.
Drafting college players is a combination of research, testing and feel. “Winners” on draft day don't always end up as winners five years down the road.
But teams that make selections out of desperation are guaranteed to lose.