PRO FOOTBALL | COLTS DRAFT

Colts' successful GM says 'I was meant to do this job'

2013-04-24T18:00:00Z 2013-05-03T00:24:04Z Colts' successful GM says 'I was meant to do this job'Al Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
April 24, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

OK, Ryan Grigson. What do you do for an encore?

Make North Korea like us? Lower gas prices at the pump for the 2013-14 NFL season? Secure a winning record for the Cubs?

It's got to be something monumental, almost miraculous, like the Colts' going from 2-14 to 11-5 last season — one of the greatest turnarounds in league history.

They did it with a new general manager in Grigson, who released future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, made Andrew Luck the No. 1 draft pick, then began restocking the shelves with young talent.

It earned the Highland grad executive of the year honors.

This year's slogan is "Here Come The Horses" and that stampede could begin with tonight's three-day draft.

The Colts have the 24th pick in the first round and five more in Rounds 3, 4, 6 and 7.

"Of course, if there's a guy sitting there at 24 and the room's not excited, we're not high-fiving and we're not even doing a little fist bump, then we probably shouldn't take that guy," Grigson said in his pre-draft news conference.

"We're probably looking to trade out if there's a player there we feel is just OK. We want players who will substantially help us reach our goal of a championship."

This is Grigson's first GM job, but his reputation as a keen judge of talent developed in his years of scouting for the Eagles. Coworkers, there and now in Indianapolis, call it a gift.

"I just basically use all the lessons I learned in all those film draft rooms I sat in with a lot of old scouts and old football men when I first started," Grigson told The Times.

"They were guys twice my age who had been through a lot in terms of football. They'd been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things."

Grigson said he also draws from his experiences as a former player, mixing that with various intangibles and what he sees on film.

"I usually know right away if I really like a player if there's a guy I'm watching film of and I say 'Wow!' or I use any expletives," Grigson said. "That's usually a good indicator the guy can play and I really embed that deep in my mind so that I don't forget when draft time comes around."

It was a busy offseason for the former Purdue standout, who signed 10 unrestricted free agents from other teams and a few of his own last week.

Included was backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and former first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey after losing receiver Donnie Avery to free agency.

Coach Chuck Pagano missed much of last season battling cancer and praised the job Grigson and interim coach Bruce Arians did in his absence.

"Ryan was like a son to me. He never left my side and kept me constantly updated," Pagano said. "I trust his judgment implicitly in helping the Colts become a contender in this league for years to come."

The one-time student at Our Lady of Grace in Highland is now among the NFL's top movers and shakers, yet humbled by his success.

He insists his secret isn't anything deep or mystical.

"Seeing as many players and digging as hard as I possibly can and at the end of the day, having the guts to go with my instincts and then pull the trigger," Grigson said. "I feel I was meant to do this job."

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