INDIANAPOLIS -- A wrap-up of the Indianapolis Colts' 2016 draft.
Best move: It didn't take long for the Colts to make their best pick of the draft when they took Alabama center Ryan Kelly at No. 18. In fact, it was their best move since taking Andrew Luck in 2012. The Colts hope Kelly and Luck can be their modern-day version of Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday, the quarterback-center combo who started together an NFL-record 170 times. Indianapolis also hopes the drafting of Kelly finally puts an end to its revolving door at center, where five different players have started since Luck was drafted in 2012.
Riskiest move: The Colts knew coming into the draft they had problems putting pressure on the quarterback (35 sacks in 2015), but they waited until the seventh round to select a pass-rusher despite their two primary players in that area -- Robert Mathis and Trent Cole -- both being at least 33 years old. Linebacker Trevor Bates, taken in that final round, will be making the transition from defensive end in college to linebacker in coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defensive scheme. "I think it's something where we knew kind of coming into this draft we weren't going to frustrate ourselves by pretending that we were going to be able to solve every need for the rest of this decade just with this draft," owner Jim Irsay said. "Chuck and the new defensive coordinator [Ted Monachino] I know are going to be trying to come up with packages to generate pressure."
Most surprising move: Taking safety T.J. Green in the second round. The Colts had more pressing needs (see above) than safety, where they appear to be set with veteran Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers. Green switched from receiver to safety after the 2013 season and isn't expected to start for the Colts in 2016. "You watch the film, you're like, 'OK, he's a former receiver, we're looking at a project here,' " general manager Ryan Grigson said. "But collectively, scouts, [defensive backs coach] Greg Williams, everyone that was part of the process felt like he had a really great upside because on the film you didn't see a player that you really thought lacked instincts or lacked awareness. He puts his face on people. He can really come to balance and be a core special-teamer. That was another thing that got us fired up about him."
File it away: Keep your eye on linebacker Antonio Morrison, who was taken in the fourth round. He had at least 101 tackles in each of his final two seasons at Florida. Morrison could be in the mix with Josh McNary, Sio Moore and Nate Irving to start alongside D'Qwell Jackson at inside linebacker. "This guy is special," Pagano said.
Thumbs up: The Colts were far from flashy in this draft. That's actually fine, because they have enough flash on their roster in the form of players such as Luck and receiver T.Y. Hilton. The Colts needed to fix their offensive line after four seasons of seeing Luck get hit over and over again because of poor blocking. They didn't take only one offensive lineman. They didn't take two offensive linemen. They didn't take just three offensive linemen. They took four offensive linemen, out of eight picks. Kelly became only the eighth center selected in the first round since 2000, and he's expected to start from day one and put a stopper in the revolving door.