>> When Ryan Grigson characterized this as “a really good trench draft” the week before it took place, turns out he was foreshadowing. The Colts drafted nothing but linemen with their first four picks, although top pick Bjoern Werner (Florida State) figures to move from defensive end to outside linebacker. The third round brought guard Hugh Thornton (Illinois), the fourth-round center Khaled Holmes (USC) and a trade into the fifth landed nose tackle Montori Hughes (Tennessee-Martin).
>> “It all starts up front,” said Chuck Pagano. “When you’re good, solid on both sides of the line of scrimmage, it makes everybody else’s job that much easier. You’re going to hear me until they run me out of here talk about running the ball and stopping the run.”
>> No idea how well they’ll turn out as players, but they offer compelling and diverse collection of storylines. “In terms of their off the field and just their overall stories, they are all very, very unique human beings,” Grigson said, “and their stories, some of them are amazing and what they’ve overcome.”
>> Werner, of course, was born in Germany and learned about the NFL by playing the Madden video game. He put together an All-Star roster that featured none other than Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. He not only led the ACC in sacks (13) last season but pass defended with eight, all deflections at the line, so he may have a little J.J. Watt in him.
>> According to NFL.com, Thornton found his mother and sister murdered while visiting them in Jamaica over Christmas break in 2004, and eventually moved to Ohio before his senior year in high school to live with his aunt after being abused by his father while living with him in Idaho. He persevered through all of that personal tragedy to become a leader at Illinois. “He’s one of those guys you root for,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. “He’s been through a lot.”
>> Holmes is a student of classical literature who plays the cello who graduated early with a 3.31 GPA and is working on his Master’s degree in communications management. His father, a former football player at Michigan, has worked for the Saudi royal family for 35 years.
>> Hughes had multiple off-field issues at Tennessee, was kicked out of school and landed at UT-Martin, where he stayed out of trouble, matured on and off the field and developed into a solid nose tackle prospect. He also has the unofficial distinction of being described – in the official bio distributed by the Colts – of having a “huge bubble,” which I believe Holmes would refer to as the gluteus maximus.
>> Unlike Werner, whose stock dropped with poor Combine testing, Hughes apparently jumped with his measurable. “He’s a height-weight speed freak,” Mayock said. “This kid has more talent than fifth-rounders have, it’s just a matter of getting it out.”
>> Pagano went so far as to compare him to one of his former players in Baltimore, Haloti Ngata. “This guy moves like Haloti, he’s big like Haloti, he walked down the hall, they nicknamed him ‘Eclipse’,” he said. “The guy barely can fit through the door.”
>> The Colts gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft to acquire the fifth-rounder used on Hughes, so it’s a relatively large investment in a player at a position already stocked with veterans Aubrayo Franklin, Brandon McKinney, Josh Chapman and Martin Tevaseu.
>> Thornton finished his Illinois career as a left tackle but is better suited to play guard. That means additional competition for Joe Reitz and Jeff Linkenbach behind starters Mike McGlynn and Donald Thomas.
>> Grigson finally deviated in the sixth round with safety John Boyett (Oregon), who’s still rehabbing after missing all but one game of his senior season to have surgery to repair torn patellar tendons in both knees. Asked when he’d be ready to play, Boyett said he was “not sure” he could talk about his health status. Draft experts generally agreed he’d have been drafted significantly higher if healthy, so could turn out to be a long-term value pick.
>> He was a highly productive player at Oregon, racking up 278 tackles and 10 interceptions in three-plus seasons, and is an undersized but tough and aggressive player. How tough? He played the entire 2011 season with both knees injured.
>> “We’ve got to protect John Boyett against himself because part of the deal, he loves to play, he loves the game,” Pagano said. “He’ll play hurt, so he was his own worst enemy. He wouldn’t tell those guys the pain he was feeling, he just played right through it. “
>> After bypassing all kinds of skill position players in the first six rounds, the Colts finally threw us a bone with their final two selections in the seventh round, grabbing running back Kerwynn Williams of Utah State. He’s a little dude (5-7, 196 pounds) but has speed and shiftiness, not to mention multi-purpose ability, and could be a factor in the return game.
>> Justice Cunningham, a tight end from South Carolina, was Mr. Irrelevant. He’s known primarily as a blocker, not a receiver.
>> Pagano’s summary: “Our team got way better and we know what the expectations are coming down the pipe. It’s exactly where we want to be. The expectations are where we want them. We got a group of guys coming in here that are Colts. They’re Colts through and through and they can’t wait to get here and get rolling.”