Colts add speedy receiver Phillip Dorsett in NFL draft
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colts general manager Ryan Grigson took a page right out of his predecessor’s draft playbook Thursday night.
Rather than choosing a defensive star to fill a glaring need with a first-round pick, he instead took a 5-foot-10 receiver from Miami.
Yes, 14 years after Indy stunned fans by selecting Reggie Wayne, the current cast of decision makers followed the same script by taking speedster Phillip Dorsett at No. 29. Those inside the organization believe history will repeat itself.
“Why not?” coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s the luck of the ’shoe.”
The choice was one of the surprises of the first round.
Conventional wisdom suggested Indy needed help either along the offensive line or on defense. And with safeties Landon Collins and Damarious Randall, run-stuffing defensive tackle Malcom Brown and pass rusher Randy Gregory still available, the Colts seemed to be in perfect position.
But Grigson and Pagano simply couldn’t ignore the 185-pound Dorsett, who ran two sub 4.3-second 40-yard dashes at his pro day. Grigson said the Colts clocked him at 4.25 seconds on grass and it matched the speed he had detected on film.
“We feel like he is a game-breaker because of that speed,” Grigson said. “He’s a tough nut. He will lower his shoulder. I’m not saying you want a 185-pound guy doing that every time. But usually guys that are this fast, they are straight liners or they lack toughness, and he doesn’t. If you just watched him on the field, you would say this guy has special speed.”
Grigson said Dorsett was the highest-rated player remaining on the Colts’ board
He gives quarterback Andrew Luck with another way to stretch the field and could help solve the problem Luck’s receivers had of getting open against New England in the AFC championship game loss.
The other benefit is that the Colts have an insurance policy heading into a potentially tricky offseason in which receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener and left tackle Anthony Castonzo could all become unrestricted free agents at the same time Luck is trying to work out a contract extension.
Fans weren’t buying those explanations.
“WHY?!?!?! We don’t need receivers!!!! What a dumb draft pick!!! We need an offensive line!!!!” Cory Hostetter tweeted to team owner Jim Irsay.
It was just one post in a flood of them questioning the move that comes after a hefty offseason defensive investment in free agency.
In addition to re-signing Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams, the Colts have added four key veteran free agents -- inside linebacker Nate Irving, outside linebacker Trent Cole, defensive lineman Kendall Langford and safety Dwight Lowery. But the Colts still want someone to at least challenge Lowery for the starting job.
While the reaction to the Wayne selection, at No. 31, was similar, the two Miami receivers are not identical twins.
Then-general manager Bill Polian took the 6-foot, 203-pound Wayne because of his work ethic, his productivity and his strong hands. Wayne wound up second on the franchise’s career lists for receptions, yards and TD catches. Indy decided not to re-sign the veteran free agent earlier this year.
While Grigson believes Dorsett has similar intangibles to Wayne, Dorsett is slightly smaller than Wayne and had only 36 receptions as a senior at Miami.
But Dorsett is faster than Wayne and finished last season with 871 yards, 10 touchdown catches and an incredible average of 24.1 yards per catch. In an injury-plagued junior season, Dorsett caught only 13 passes but finished with 20.9 yards per catch.
He works out with Wayne and now will be teaming with Hilton, a Miami native; Andre Johnson, another Miami alum; and Duron Carter, a former high school teammate to give what the Colts hope will be one of the most formidable receiving groups in the league.
“I know what I’m up against and I’m up for it,” Dorsett said.
With eight picks over the final two days of the draft, the Colts now plan to turn their attention to fixing other holes.
Pagano insisted that Indy’s run defense, which has been unable to stop New England in four consecutive, will get fixed -- either with those already on the roster or with some more draft picks.
“There are enough people on that (draft) board that we can add on Friday and Saturday,” Pagano said. “But when you have guys that have rare, rare traits you don’t pass on that.”