Taking Luck allows Colts to focus on other needs

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By MICHAEL MAROT, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Now that the Indianapolis Colts have decided who their new quarterback will be, they can start filling in other holes.

Like tight end, receiver and offensive line. Or defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback.

For the Colts, a successful draft this week goes far deeper than taking Stanford's Andrew Luck at No. 1. It's about giving him a stronger supporting cast to start the next era of Colts football.

First-time general manager Ryan Grigson can't wait.

"I kind of wish it was today," Grigson said with a smile during his pre-draft availability last week. "Every day I wake up thinking about the draft. This is fun. What a great opportunity and great job. To help build a team is a dream."

Grigson will certainly get his chance and with 10 picks this weekend, it may be his most important draft.

The question about who to take first -- Luck or Robert Griffin III -- has already been settled. Luck has been told that he will be Peyton Manning's successor barring something unforeseen or unusual.

Luck must replace the only four-time MVP in league history and someone who has been the face of the franchise for almost a decade and a half. Manning was regarded so prominently in the community that a local children's hospital was named in his honor and 4,000 season tickets are now available from a team that had a waiting list before he left.

The draft will demonstrate just how much will be different in Indy in 2012.

Former Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is the Colts' new coach, and he prefers using a 3-4 defensive alignment rather than the Colts traditional 4-3. To make the switch, Indy is trying to get bigger up front. They've signed three free agents from Baltimore -- 298-pound defensive end Cory Redding, 345-pound defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and hard-hitting safety Tom Zbikowski.

They could go after another behemoth defensive tackle in the draft.

And then there are the glaring deficiencies in the pass defense. Colts opponents completed a league-record 71.2 percent of their passes and had a quarterback rating of 103.1. Indy's eight interceptions were tied for the league low.

Still, the overall priority may be taking care of Luck.

Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie are the two most experienced receivers. Indy also has signed free agent Donnie Avery, who is trying to work his way back from a season-ending ACL injury in 2010. The Colts cut Dallas Clark and lost Jacob Tamme, their two most productive tight ends.

The ideal situation may be pairing Luck with his former college teammate Coby Fleener, the top tight end in the draft. But after running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at Stanford's pro day, it's doubtful Fleener will be available for the Colts' second pick, No. 34 overall.

What will the Colts do with 10 picks next weekend?

Take the best player available, of course.

"You never want to pass on a really good football player," Grigson said. "You usually know the guys you like pretty quickly. You want guys who know how to play the game first and foremost."

Where else could the Colts look? Offensive line.

While rookie left tackle Anthony Castonzo was solid in 2011, second-round pick Ben Ijalana was lost to a season-ending knee injury in early October, longtime center Jeff Saturday left for Green Bay in free agency and the Colts have spent the past several years looking for help at guard.

"There are some good quality offensive linemen in this draft," Grigson said when asked what position had the greatest depth this year. "The underclassmen that declared helped that crop quite a bit. I'd say offensive line is pretty solid."

Grigson knows the position well. He played on the offensive line at Purdue and for two years in the NFL.

Of course, the success or failure of Grigson's first draft as a general manager will be dictated by the one pick that's no secret.

"I don't think I've ever picked anywhere near the top," Grigson said referring to previous scouting jobs at St. Louis and Philadelphia. "I think I've only been part of two teams with losing records since I've been doing this about 12 years or so. I've always been toward the bottom so it's been a little bit different."

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