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Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson says drafting for need is 'weak'

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts need help on the offensive line. They needed help on the offensive line last year, too. And the year before that.

Free agency is a month old and Indianapolis has yet to sign a player expected to start on the offensive line next season.

The draft is a week away and you know what?

The Colts aren't going to draft on need. They're going to take the best player available, especially at pick No. 18. General manager Ryan Grigson said so.

There's your warning in case the Colts don't select an offensive lineman in the first round.

"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."

The Colts will likely take an offensive lineman at some point in the draft, but what Grigson is saying is that they won't reach on a player, especially one who has a second or third round grade, in the first round simply because they have a need at that position.

The Colts shouldn't be in their current position of needing to fix their offensive line still when Andrew Luck is their quarterback and he's expected to become a $100-million player when he signs his new contract. It's not a good look for Grigson or the organization that he's a former offensive lineman and he continues to have a difficult time putting together a line capable of protecting Luck.

To Grigson's credit he's tried. He's signed free agent offensive linemen. He's drafted offensive linemen. He's signed undrafted free agents on the offensive line.

But most of the players have struggled, were injured or flat out failed outside of guard Jack Mewhort, who they selected in the second round in 2014.

The Colts used five different quarterbacks and gave up 118 quarterback hits last season.

"I'd be lying to say I didn't," Grigson said when asked if he takes the offensive line failures personally. "I'm a competitor. I have a lot of pride in my work. I was an offensive lineman. There are certain factors that you can't help when a guy doesn't pan out, but I feel like we've got to do a better job. I feel like we're in a position to do better."

The Colts signed offensive linemen Kevin Graf and Mitchell Van Dyk on Wednesday, but those aren't the types of moves those outside the organization expected. They thought the Colts would pursue starting caliber offensive linemen.

Nope.

That was never the plan.

The Colts plan to develop their own players. That means outside of the draft possibly and the couple of minor signings they've made, they could be bringing back the same group of offensive linemen from last season. Indianapolis hired former Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin to coach the offensive line.

Does Grigson think they have what it takes internally to have a better offensive line next season?

"I don't think we have any choice," he said. "It's obviously an inexact science, [rounds] one through seven, especially in the mid-to-late rounds which we've felt we've done well in spots there. There are always waiver claims, there are trades and things like that, but you want to be able to hit on those early picks and get those guys that you have above the line on your board."