A year ago, Ryan Grigson was the new first-time general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, trying to revamp the roster with an influx of young talent to replace aging or ineffective veterans. Grigson held the number one pick in the NFL draft, faced with the decision of selecting the next franchise quarterback to replace Peyton Manning. The Colts drafted Andrew Luck, but also found three other offensive starters later in the draft (F Dwayne Allen, TE Coby Fleener, and RB Vick Ballard) and return man T.Y. Hilton.
"I'm in a way different place than I was last year with this whole process," said Grigson in a pre-draft news conference. "We've solidified some areas and also have created competition in the position groups that we always really wanted to do. I'd say we still have the same philosophy, but it's a little bit different than last year where we kind of had gaping holes in a lot of spots that needed to be addressed, a new defense and so forth. We feel like we're in a better position."
Barring a trade, Grigson will have to wait until the 24th pick in this year's NFL draft, which begins with first round selections April 25th and continues through April 27th. The Colts hold six selections over the three days of the draft.
"It's the lifeblood to the organization," said Grigson in a pre-draft news conference. "They're the players you have under contract for four or five years. They grow. They create a bond. You want a family here. You can't do it if it's all transient. You want to have your core be from the draft. The successful teams in the league have done that."
While the 2013 draft talent pool does not include the likes of high-profile quarterbacks Luck or Robert Griffin III, taken 1-2 in 2012, Grigson believes there are good players to be found.
"The game is won and lost in the trenches and this is a really good trench draft," said Grigson. "I think there are a lot of good players on both sides of the ball in terms of linemen."
In the past decade, the 24th pick in the first round has produced NFL stars like quarterback Aaron Rodgers, safety Ed Reed and running backs Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson.
"That was one of the first things I did when we got the draft order was to see who has been there," said Grigson. "I said, ‘Oh this might not be such a bad spot.' But you should be able to find, out of all those numbers, starting with 12,000 (draft eligible players) you should be able to find a good player when you have 24 from the top of that 12,000."
The Colts also own the last pick in the draft for the second straight year. The Colts selected quarterback Chandler Harnish last year with the 253rd selection. The last pick is known as Mr. Irrelevant and often does not make the team. Harnish proved doubters wrong and remains on the Colts roster. This year's final pick is 254th overall.
"I like having that pick," said Grigson. "I feel like that's still a spot in the draft. It's very relevant to us. We hope to get a player there who has starter traits, just like we would at any other spot."