INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts have only six picks in the NFL draft to address their needs on the offensive line, at linebacker -- outside and inside -- and at running back.
While they have a selection in every round except the sixth, you can expect general manager Ryan Grigson to do what he can to get some more picks.
Grigson has managed to find some key contributors in the later rounds of the draft. All eight of the Colts' draft picks last year were contributors on the 53-man roster at different points in the season.
Let’s take a look at some of the significant players the Colts have selected in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds of the draft since 2012.
RB Vick Ballard (fifth round): He led the Colts in rushing yards (814) as a rookie and he has the only 100-yard rushing game in the Andrew Luck era. Injuries cut Ballard’s time with the Colts short. He didn’t play in 2013 because of a torn ACL. He missed all of the 2014 season because of a torn Achilles. Ballard was released before the start of last season because of a groin injury.
LB Jonathan Newsome (fifth round): Newsome tied for the team high in sacks as a rookie with 6.5. His inability to be professional restricted his time in Indianapolis to only one season and ruined any chance of him being the team’s pass-rusher of the future. He had just one sack last season and was released in February after being arrested for possession of marijuana.
S Clayton Geathers (fourth round): Geathers was used more as a hybrid linebacker last season, when he finished with 34 tackles and an interception. He’s in position to start alongside veteran Mike Adams at safety next season after Dwight Lowery signed with San Diego.
DT David Parry (fifth round): Parry was the only rookie to start all 16 games last season. The Stanford product had 31 tackles and a sack. He’ll start on a defensive line that should also feature Kendall Langford and Art Jones next season.
OL Denzelle Good (seventh round): A lot of people likely had to search the internet to find where Mars Hill University is located. The Colts’ final pick started four games at right tackle, and should compete for the starting job there next season.
“First of all, the guys we take mid-to-late we at least hope are still sitting on our board 'above the line,' so to speak [in the range of eventual starter, grade-wise], and if those guys are gone already where we're picking late, then we take guys that at least we feel have enough athletic upside, competitiveness and innate football playing ability to be starters,” Grigson said. “The tape has to point to it at least in chunks or flashes in hopes they can put it all together with some coaching and development to become a complete player one day. At the same time, we are in a profession where there's not a lot of patience, so those late-round guys need to show us early and often that they are trending in the right direction and producing in some way from the jump, or they will likely end up on the practice squad or replaced by a wire pickup, a trade, a college free agent or someone else who we feel has a better chance to contribute in the near term.
“It's obviously a much lower percentage rate of hitting on a player after the early rounds, but we don't get excited about drafting players we feel have backup-type ceilings. We know we're not going to be perfect but that's our mindset. We don't want ordinary.