I was recently talking to a friend about the Colts upcoming draft. He is a Colts fan, and he made the comment that he wished that Bill Polian were still running the show, because he had confidence that Polian knew how to build a team and knew what he was doing. My friend remarked that he did not have the confidence in Ryan Grigson yet, an unproven first time general manager.
Why is it that Bill Polian, who has not had good draft classes in the past few years (although that may be due to his son Chris), still has the confidence of fans?
Bill Polian is quite possibly the greatest drafting general manager of all time. Polian certainly knew how to build a team. He took two different franchises to multiple super bowls (Buffalo and Indianapolis) and took a third to the doorstep of the super bowl in just their second year of existence (Carolina).
Today, as Ryan Grigson confirmed that Andrew Luck will be the Colts selection, I thought about how big of a draft this is for him. This is about more than just 10 players for Grigson: this is about a legacy, about establishing confidence, and about laying a solid foundation.
Quite frankly, Ryan Grigson must nail this draft. He must. He has 10 picks, and those 10 picks will go a LONG way to establishing his reputation and trust among fans. In 1998, Bill Polian nailed his first draft for the Colts. He selected Peyton Manning, Jerome Pathon, E.G. Green, Steve McKinney, Antony Jordan, Aaron Taylor, and Cory Gaines. That was a very good draft class, highlighted by Peyton Manning.
Ryan Grigson also has a star quarterback to highlight his draft class. But no one will give Grigson credit for drafting Andrew Luck, as they have Polian for taking Manning in ’98. Jim Irsay knew he was taking Luck all along, anyways. It will be the other 9 picks that go a long way in determining Grigson’s legacy. It will be the other 9 picks that we will be following so closely. While Luck will be the one most talked about (and rightly so – he is an incredible player), the picks that Colts fans are interested in the most are picks 2-10. What is Ryan Grigson’s draft strategy? How is he going to build the team? What positions does he think are most important? How are his picks going to play out? Some of those will be answered on draft day, others a few years down the road. But we will eventually be looking back on this draft as either the foundation for a great team or the reason things did not work out. Bill Polian laid a solid foundation in his first draft. Ryan Grigson must do the same.
Because right now, whether right or wrong, much of Colts nation would rather have Polian drafting than Grigson, even though Polian’s last few drafts have been bad. Only Grigson can change that. This is a big week for him.
He must nail this draft, not only for his legacy, but for the good of the team. The team absolutely needs this, and they need to get fans coming back to their games.
The pressure is on, Ryan Grigson. You are on the clock, and Colts nation eagerly awaits your every move.