By: Adrian Jarding | @swimjarding
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Think back to 2015 at this time, if you dare.
General consensus among the swathes of analysts from many media outlets agreed the Indianapolis Colts won the “March Super Bowl”, otherwise known as free agency.
The Colts managed to sign Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Todd Herremans. All players who were highly coveted and publicized.
Herremans was the only offensive lineman picked up, but he was 32 and had dealt with many injuries during the previous four seasons.
Work was still expected to be done on the line.
In the lead up to the draft, many including myself believed the Colts would address the offensive line early in the draft.
After all, then fourth year quarterback Andrew Luck had taken more hits than anyone in the previous three years.
Every year teams have a theme or slogan. Typically it emphasizes what they are building upon from the previous season.
The Colts theme for the 2015 season was BTM, “Build the Monster” (also used in 2012).
After getting thumped 45-7 against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship and watching them dismantle the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, the Colts wanted to build their own monster opposite of the Patriot way.
The Patriots built their monster through needs in the draft and careful spending in free agency.
They are meticulous when filling needs for their depth chart.
They wear metaphorical sunglasses to see past the flash of skilled players, while also utilizing a microscope to discover details that many others miss.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson left his sunglasses in Miami, Florida (Gore, Johnson and head coach Chuck Pagano all came from the University of Miami) and became blinded by the light of flashy skill position players.
The lack of a microscope didn’t allow him to see their flaws or depth at offensive line.
So when the Colts were on the clock with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2015 draft, the flash of speedy receiver Phillip Dorsett (also from Miami) was too much for the fourth year general manager to pass up.
He was building upon the monstrous idea Andrew Luck needed another pair of beautiful rims, rather than a quality air bag.
Dorsett was the best player on his board.
He was not a need with T.Y Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Andre Johnson already on the roster.
After a tumultuous 2015 season where Luck missed more than half the season with two different injuries, the Colts finished 8-8.
An average record for an average roster that didn’t reach the expected potential.
The jury is still out on Dorsett since he spent much of last year hurt, but Frank Gore was the only free agent who payed off for Grigson.
The monster built, bit back.
The beginning of the offseason began with a lot of certainty of uncertainty.
In a move that signified the mixed season the organization went through, owner Jim Irsay puzzled everyone and decided to keep the duo.
Pagano and Grigson told Irsay they wanted to finish what they started, and this time they would be working together for one purpose.
They wanted to build the monster with their sunglasses and microscope. One small step at a time.
This year the Colts didn’t win the “March Super Bowl”. They didn’t make any big splashes.
Grigson played his cards cautiously and safe.
Patrick Robinson was the biggest name picked up. A first-round pick by New Orleans in 2010 who dealt with injuries and resurrected his career after a one year stint with San Diego.
Boringness was a good change.
This proved the organization was taking a deeper look at players before making a move.
Signs were pointing in the right direction, until Grigson dropped a bombshell quote that sucked air out of the lungs of fans.
When asked if he would grab an offensive lineman early in the draft to protect Luck, Grigson was quoted as saying:
“I think it’s weak, no matter what your needs are, to look at your board and see Player A here and then you have Player B, C and D down here, and you [say], ‘Well, we have to get a need,'” Grigson said. “That defies the whole process.”
In other words, he would rather select the best player on the board instead of drafting a player that would fill a desperate need on the depth chart.
That’s why fans were skeptical when the Colts were on the clock last with the 18th overall pick.
The feel good press conference that rejuvenated the franchise and gave hope for a better future, could have been a curtain if Grigson went back to his old ways.
Instead, Grigson turned a page when he selected an immediate starter at center from the University of Alabama, Ryan Kelly.
The move was boring and unexciting.
Yet, it was perfect.
Colts fans have reason to be hopeful again.
If the Colts continue to approach the draft like they did in the first round, we will look back and recognize that Ryan Kelly was the first piece of the “monster” team Ryan Grigson built.