Indianapolis Colts: 2014 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS – There’s always somebody in class who has to end up with the lowest grade. You know the student everybody snickers at because he didn’t get as good of a grade as the rest of his classmates.

For the Indianapolis Colts that’s them when it comes to grading their 2014 draft class. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. dished out his grades for the draftInsider and the Colts are the bottom of the list. Kiper gave the Colts a league-worst D-plus.

The Colts entered the draft with needs at safety, guard, linebacker and receiver. They addressed receiver in the third round by selecting Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief. The Colts drafted linebacker Andrew Jackson from Western Kentucky in the sixth round and Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort, a second-round pick, played tackle with the Buckeyes but will likely slide to guard in the NFL.

The Colts, who were without a first-round pick, did not touch their most glaring need – safety – in the draft.

"There’s a small handful of guys in this draft that we felt like we could go get, it just didn’t happen," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "But it was not a deep safety class and if there was a safety we liked, we would have took one."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive end Jonathan Newsome doesn't hide behind his checkered past. He knows he made mistakes, the kind that caused him to transfer from Ohio State to Ball State, a mid-major college in the Mid-American Conference. Newsome owned up to those mistakes during a conference call moments after the Indianapolis Colts made him the No. 166 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft on Saturday.

Newsome started his college career with the Buckeyes but transferred because he was "living it up a little bit too much" at Ohio State. He missed spring practice in 2011 because of academic problems.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Newsome
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhColts prospect Jonathan Newsome hopes to follow in the footsteps of pass-rusher Robert Mathis.
"I was young and I was dumb, honestly," Newsome said. "Young and dumb and making dumb decisions as far as my academics, and I lost trust in my coaches. Before I had stayed there and tried to dig myself out of a hole that was so deep. I'd rather go get a fresh start at Ball State, where I had some former high school teammates that were playing there and a good supporting staff. That was the reason I left. I just needed a fresh start."

New school, same troubles for Newsome.

He was suspended two games at Ball State after being arrested in August 2012 for marijuana possession when a bag containing marijuana was found in his wallet. He was also held on a warrant after an incident in November 2011 when he and a teammate were accused of shoplifting.

"My mother's always been supportive of me," Newsome said. "Even when I did mess up, she was always there for me. And my head coach from high school, coach [Ted] Ginn [Sr.], was always there in my corner. When I messed up, he got me back right, got my focus back right and all my priorities straight.

"There were times when there was doubt, but ultimately, I was mentally tough enough to overcome all that stuff, and now I'm just sitting here and I'm an Indianapolis Colt. I can't even explain how crazy that story is, to go from almost getting kicked out of school to being an NFL draft pick, graduate. Everything's looking up and I'm going to continue with this success. I don't plan on having any more bumps in the road."

The Colts did thorough research on Newsome, and, just like he was with the media Saturday, he was just as honest to team officials when he met with them.

"If you lie, you’re dead to us," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said.

Newsome had 116 tackles (26 for a loss) and 16.5 sacks in his two seasons at Ball State.

"The tape doesn’t lie," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "It’s out there and the guy is a football junkie. It’s his whole life, and he’s a four core special-teams guy, and he embraces that. He loves that. It’s hard. As you guys know, it’s hard to find pass-rushers, and the way our league’s going, you can never have enough of them, so we feel great. As the board was getting plucked away, we were sweating bullets."

Former Colts general manager and current ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian said Newsome has "Robert Mathis-like ability."

"I think that’s a good comparison," Newsome said. "We ran multiple fronts at Ball State. We ran 4-3, we ran 3-4, we ran a lot of nickel. When we ran 3-4, I was an outside linebacker. I stood up a lot. When we ran a 4-3, I stood up on the edge. I can do all that stuff."

Mathis, like Newsome, came out of a small school -- Alabama A&M -- and he's turned in what should be a Hall of Fame career. Mathis has 111 career sacks.

"I’m going to be his little brother. He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to be like his little brother," Newsome said. "I’m going to learn from [him]. I watched him all last year. We have similar builds.

"I can’t wait to learn from him. He led the league in sacks last year. That’s what I love to do -- sack the quarterback. Why not learn from the best?"
INDIANAPOLIS -- The assumption heading into the draft was that the Indianapolis Colts would use one of their five picks on a safety.

Seventeen safeties were picked during the three-day draft. None of them were selected by the Colts.

"There’s a small handful of guys in this draft that we felt like we could go get, it just didn’t happen," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "But it was not a deep safety class and if there was a safety we liked, we would have took one."

So as of now, in-house players Delano Howell, Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson, who have combined to start 22 games, are the stop candidates to man the starting safety spot opposite of LaRon Landry next season. Longtime Colts safety Antoine Bethea signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March.

"You don’t just because of need go reach and try to grab and fill a need when the value’s not there," coach Chuck Pagano said. "I feel good about the guys that are here and I think at the end of the day, we bolstered our front seven with acquiring D’Qwell Jackson and Art Jones and the two defensive players we picked up. The better that front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end. We’ll be fine."
» NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South


INDIANAPOLIS -- A wrap-up of the Indianapolis Colts' draft. Click here for a full list of the Colts' draftees.

[+] EnlargeDonte Moncrief
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesThe Colts are banking on Donte Moncrief to evolve into a standout wide receiver for seasons to come.
Best move: The Colts started to prepare for life after receiver Reggie Wayne when they selected Donte Moncrief out of Mississippi in the third round. He's an all-around receiver who isn't afraid to throw a block if necessary. Moncrief left school early and is still a raw player, but he's not expected to come right in and contribute. It's all about the future with him. The Colts are set at the top three receiver spots with Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks. But Wayne and Nicks will be free agents in 2015. Wayne is closer to retirement than playing another five or six years. There are not many receivers better in the league whom Moncrief can learn from than Wayne.

Riskiest move: The Colts went into the draft with question marks at safety. They left the draft with the same question marks. The Colts are looking for a starter to play alongside LaRon Landry after Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco in March. It hurt the Colts that they did not have a first-round pick, because Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward was selected by the 49ers at the end of the opening round. Mel Kiper Jr. said Ward was the best cover safety in the draft. Now the Colts are left with Delano Howell, Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson as in-house candidates to start at safety -- unless they sign a free agent at that position.

Most surprising move: Linebacker Andrew Jackson in the sixth round. Jackson played at Western Kentucky, where he didn't even make first-team All-Sun Belt Conference. Jackson made the second team after recording 95 tackles last season. The Colts had more pressing needs -- safety -- than adding another linebacker to the roster. The Seattle Seahawks selected free safety Eric Pinkins five picks after the Colts in the sixth round. Who knows if Pinkins will pan out, but the Colts could have selected him to see if he has what it takes to play safety in the league. Now the Colts could end up going with guys currently on their roster to compete for the starting job.

File it away: Selecting Moncrief means the race for one of the final receiver spots will be competitive between Griff Whalen, Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill. The Colts could end up releasing at least two of them depending on how many receivers they want to keep on the roster next season. The Colts selected Brazill in the sixth round in 2012. Whalen has bounced around on and off the practice squad. Rogers likely has the inside track on making the roster over Brazill and Whalen. The Colts have high hopes for him because of his speed and size at receiver. His biggest issue is avoiding trouble off the field.
INDIANAPOLIS – As much as some may not want to believe it, the clock is ticking on what should end up being a Hall-of-Fame career for Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.

That's why the Colts have to start preparing for life after Wayne once he finally decides to stop making impressive one-handed grabs.

The Colts took a step in doing that when they selected Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief in the third round.

"We have to always (prepare for not having Wayne), but at the same time he was one of the highest-rated guys on our board," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "He’s a guy that’s done a lot at a high level and he’s still young. He’s still got some things to learn."

Moncrief, who left school early, had 59 catches for 938 yards and six touchdowns last season at Mississippi.

The 20-year-old Moncrief doesn’t have the pressure to contribute right away because the Colts are set at the top three receiver spots with Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks.

"The Colts offense, they spread the ball around," Moncrief said. "The locker room will be great. They have a quarterback in Andrew Luck that you can trust."

The Colts are intrigued by Moncrief’s size -- 6-2, 220 pounds -- and his desire to be an all-around receiver.

"Football is his life and we’re anxious to get him here and see his big body moving around because he can separate," Grigson said. "We just felt like what was almost a fourth-round pick was tremendous value at that spot."
INDIANAPOLIS – Offensive tackle? Or is he a guard? No, wait, he’s a center, right?

Don’t go trying to figure out what position Indianapolis Colts second round pick Jack Mewhort plays because the answer is unknown at the moment.

Mewhort, the No. 59 overall pick Friday, has played all those positions at some point between high school and at Ohio State, and the Colts like him because of his versatility along the line.

"We’ll get him in here and it’ll figure itself out, but we’ll find him a spot to start at then let him go to work," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s a dang good football player. He’s big, he’s tough, he’s smart, he loves football, fits our culture, fits our environment. He’s a horseshoe guy.

"What I live, he’s got nasty, he’s tough and you’ve got to have that on the offensive line."

What about you, Jack, what position do you envision playing in the NFL?

"I’m the type of guy that you point me in the direction and I’ll figure it out and I’ll go play it," he said. "I’m not sure I’ve got a specific position pegged down right now, but I know and I’m confident that I can excel at different ones along the offensive line."

Guard may end up being the position Mewhort gets the majority of his snaps because the Colts are set at tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

The goal is to have flexibility along the offensive line for the Colts. Mewhort played guard and tackle during the Senior Bowl.

The Colts were one of two teams to lose at least three offensive linemen that played at least 300 snaps without signing a player during free agency, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa, but he surprised many by deciding to retire last month.

"It’s so tough in this league to have continuity on the offensive line because of so many injuries," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "Position flex is what separates if you look at some of the teams that go deep in to the playoffs every year, they have tremendous position flex and versatility on their offensive line.

"To do that, you need smart guys that know how to play the game and Jack’s one of those guys."

The ultimate goal is to make sure Mewhort and the rest of the offensive linemen protect their franchise player, quarterback Andrew Luck, better. Luck has been sacked 73 times in two seasons. Sometimes you wonder how he manages to consistently pull himself off the ground after taking all those hits.

"I think that as long as he’s healthy and upright, and he’s got great protection, and he’s got enough weapons surrounding him, we’ll probably be here for a long time," Pagano said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a familiar face, one that had been absent around the Indianapolis Colts organization for nearly two months, inside the team’s draft war room Friday night.

A picture made its way around Twitter, and in it stood a sharply dressed man in a dark colored suit standing next to coach Chuck Pagano.

Owner Jim Irsay was back in his familiar setting.

Ponder
Irsay
"[It] was a shot of adrenalin," Pagano said. "He brings so much to the table and to the organization. He is the organization. He is the 'shoe.' To have Jim back in the building and back in the room with us today was pretty darn special."

Irsay had been in a rehabilitation facility getting treatment since March 17 after he was arrested the day before for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. A sign that Irsay was out of the treatment facility was when the Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said he would give the pitch to the NFL owners about Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl in 2018 during the league meeting in Atlanta later this month. Irsay was also up to his old habit of tweeting again on Thursday.

Irsay wasn’t just sitting around watching during the draft. He quizzed general manager Ryan Grigson about potential players they might take with the No. 59 and 90 picks. He asked about alternative options if the players they were interested in weren’t available and potential trades.

Being a part of the day-to-day activities is where Irsay, a former general manager of the Colts, feels comfortable.

The Colts selected Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort in the second round and Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief in the third round.

"It was great," Grigson said. "He brings great energy, football wisdom, all the years of experience. He knows how to push my buttons in terms of when we're making a pick, seeing if I'm really feeling it. Same with Chuck. He looks you in the eye and wants to know about the player, wants to be able to feel that passion when you're making that pick and know that you really want that guy.

"He has a great feel for that kind of thing. He can tell when he's talking with you who you like and who you just kind of like or maybe just fills a need. He wants to know the plan. He wants to know if he's not there, what we're going to do."

It’s uncertain how much longer Irsay will be around the team. Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the league’s owners meeting in Orlando, Florida, in March that Irsay is subject to league discipline for his arrest but that he would wait "to understand the facts" before making a decision.

His initial hearing in March was postponed.

"We obviously will want to understand the facts before we take any steps as it relates to any potential discipline," Goodell said in March. "Obviously any policies or any laws that are broken, whether you're commissioner or owner or player or coach, those are subject to discipline."

But for one night, things were back to normal at the Colts facility on the west side of Indianapolis.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The pick: Donte Moncrief, receiver, Mississippi

My take: The Colts are set at receiver next season with T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks as their top three options, but they could have question marks there in 2015. Wayne and Nicks will both be free agents and it's uncertain how many more years the 35-year-old Wayne will continue to play.

Moncrief started all but one of the 37 games he played in at Mississippi. He had 59 receptions for a team-leading 938 yards last season.

The drafting of Moncrief means the Colts could end up releasing two of their three young receivers -- Da'Rick Rogers, Griff Whalen or LaVon Brazill -- depending on how many wideouts they want to keep on the roster next season.

Another third-round gem: Moncrief is the second receiver the Colts have selected in third round in the past three drafts. Hilton was taken with the No. 92 pick in 2012. And all Hilton has done is total 132 receptions for 1,944 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.

What's next: The Colts have three picks -- in the fifth, sixth and seventh -- in the final four rounds Saturday.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The pick: Jack Mewhort, offensive lineman, Ohio State

My take: Mewhort is kind of a surprise pick when you consider the need for a safety and that there were still some quality receivers available at No. 59.

Mewhort would be considered a utility player if he played baseball. He's played every position along the offensive line. He was an All-American center, and Rivals.com had him as the second player at that position coming out of high school in Toledo, Ohio, in 2009. He played guard during the 2011 season at Ohio State, then switched to left tackle for his final two seasons with the Buckeyes. Mewhort started the final 39 games he played at Ohio State.

Mewhort's best chance to play with the Colts is likely at guard because they're set at tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus, who both had impressive 2013 seasons. Playing time at guard is up in the air. Hugh Thornton struggled during his rookie season, and Donald Thomas is coming back off a torn tendon in his quad and a torn biceps.

The ultimate goal is to protect quarterback Andrew Luck better. Luck has been sacked 73 times in his first two seasons.

Add one more to the résumé: Tackle, guard and center aren't the only positions Mewhort can play. He's also capable of handling long-snapping duties. The Colts are set there, though, with Matt Overton. Overton made the Pro Bowl team last season. But Mewhort is capable of being the emergency long snapper.

What's next: The Colts have the No. 90 overall pick. They'll have three picks in the final four rounds Saturday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- After spending Thursday night with their eyes glued to a giant television in their war room as names like Manziel, Clowney, Bridgewater and others were selected, the Indianapolis Colts will finally have their chance to take part on the NFL draft on Friday night.

The Colts have the No. 59 and 90 picks on Day 2 of the draft. Nothing has changed as far as need goes with them. Safety, receiver and offensive line still sitt at the top of the list. Here are some of the players still available at those positions.

Receiver:
Marqise Lee, USC
Allen Robinson, Penn State
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Cody Latimer, Indiana
Davante Adams, Fresno

Safety:
Terrence Brooks, Florida State
Brock Vereen, Minnesota
Dion Bailey, USC

Offensive line:
Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson wants excitement from everybody in the organization on who they pick. Not just mild reaction to the pick.

"We want excitement when we are turning that card in," he said. "We want guys high-fiving, not doing limp handshakes."
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts ended up playing a part in quarterback Johnny Manziel being selected by the Cleveland Browns.

Manziel
The Browns gave up the Nos. 26 and 83 picks to Philadelphia to move up to No. 22 to select Manziel. The Colts gave up a first-round pick, which turned out to be No. 26, for running back Trent Richardson last September.

The Colts will get their first look at "Johnny Football" next season when they travel to Cleveland to face the Browns on Dec. 7.

So the Browns got Manziel, who they hope will be their quarterback of the future.

And the Colts?

They got a player who averaged 2.9 yards a carry, lost his starting position and may not get it back next season.

The Eagles ended up selecting Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith with the No. 26 pick.
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s still anybody’s guess on who the Houston Texans will take with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

University of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has a message for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck if the Texans do select him.

Clowney told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports that Luck "better have his head on a swivel" because Clowney would be paired with standout defensive end J.J. Watt, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year.

Watt has sacked Luck four times in four career games that the two have faced off.

Poor offensive line play has led to Luck being sacked 73 times in his first two seasons. But you’ve got to believe that Luck likely isn’t too worried about the possibility of facing a Clowney-Watt tandem on the outside, especially since tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus are coming off strong seasons and because he’s only worried about winning a Super Bowl.
ESPN’s NFL Nation held a mock draft Tuesday afternoon. The mock was only for the first round, so of course that means the Indianapolis Colts didn’t have a pick since they gave their first to Cleveland for running back Trent Richardson last season.

So for the fun of it, let’s take a look at who the Browns picked at No. 26.

ESPN.com Cleveland reporter Pat McManamon has the Browns selecting receiver Cody Latimer out of Indiana.

I wrote a post Tuesday where receiver is a secondary need behind safety for the Colts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks will be free agents at the end of next season.

Latimer had 72 receptions for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last season with the Hoosiers.

Safety is the primary need for the Colts.

The two best safeties in the draft – Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor – were selected by Detroit and Chicago at No. 10 and 14, respectively.

The Colts need to find a replacement for Antoine Bethea, who signed last month with San Francisco.
INDIANAPOLIS -- I wrote on Monday about how ESPN Stats & Information believes safety is the primary need for the Indianapolis Colts.

The other position of concern for the Colts, according to the group is receiver.

Colts receivers dropped 8.2 percent of third-down targets from quarterback Andrew Luck last season. That was the highest in the NFL.

The decision to select a receiver isn't based off a need for next season. The Colts are set now with Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill, Da'Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen.

Indianapolis may not be able to say the same thing after the 2014 season.

Wayne and Nicks will both be free agents in 2015. Wayne will be 36 by the end of next season, so obviously he's only got a few more years left in what should be a Hall of Fame career.

"While you still want to restock your roster, you still want to be able to have guys that are ready to go out there and play that have been there, done that in a sense, so you can keep winning games," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "It's about winning football games. We're going to try to get the best players. If they have to sit for a year, that may be the case. Hopefully, we're going to get guys that are going to challenge early."

Here's the top-10 receivers according to Mel Kiper Jr.

1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
3. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
4. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
5. Marqise Lee, USC
6. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
7. Davante Adams, Fresno State
8. Cody Latimer, Indiana
9. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
10. Jarvis Landry, LSU

Watkins, Evans, Beckham Jr., Cooks, Lee and Latimer could all go in the first round on Thursday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Safety? Offensive lineman? Receiver? What about linebacker?

The Indianapolis Colts could look to address some or all of those areas during the draft this week.

Which position do they need to address most?

Safety. That's according to the fine folks over at ESPN Stats & Information.

Antoine Bethea signed with the San Francisco 49ers shortly after the start of free agency, leaving a significant void at that position for the Colts. Bethea not only started every game he played in with Indianapolis, but his 651 tackles over the last six seasons were the most by any safety in the league.

Delano Howell, Sergio Brown and Colt Anderson will compete for the starting spot alongside LaRon Landry.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson talked like a person intrigued with possibly taking a safety. The key is that player needs to be able to have range. Bethea and Landry were interchangeable, which allowed them to try to disguise their coverage.

The Colts' first pick is at No. 59.

"There are plenty of athletic safeties out there that can run," Grigson said. "It's hard because our safeties are interchangeable, so to speak. That's how Chuck [Pagano] likes them so that you don't necessarily have a true 'free' or a true 'strong.' They should be able to be interchangeable but at the same time, we need safeties that can cover. We need safeties that can run because it's a balance. To give you guys some more insight, usually those safeties that can truly cover, they have corner background and you ask them to support in the run and there's only a select few that are good tacklers.

"Then you have the true box guys that come downhill like linebackers but you put them in space versus a tight end or a back or a receiver, you are going to get torched. There's never a perfect world but if you can find those safeties that can both cover and support the run, then you are doing pretty well."

Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are the two best safeties in this draft class. Both players are expected to be long gone by the time the Colts select.

A name that continues generate a lot of buzz is Jimmie Ward out of Northern Illinois. He had 89 tackles and six interceptions last season.

"You can make an argument [Ward] is the best cover safety in this draft," ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said last month. "He's coming off the [foot] injury, but had a very good career. He has great ball skills and real good hands for the interception."

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