As great as the 2012 season was, it wouldn't have been possible without the fantastic draft Ryan Grigson pulled off last April.
Obviouisly, a huge portion of that credit goes to Andrew Luck, who carried the team to 11 wins, despite ending up in the red in the season's point differential, yards differential, turnover differential, and just about every other metric as a team.
But the Luck pick was decided months before the draft, and was a relative lock.
Grigson's real gems in that draft seem to have come in the third round. The Colts selected TE Dwayne Allen with the first pick in the round, and traded up to the 92nd overall pick pick to select WR T.Y. Hilton.
Both players received a lot of playing time in their rookie campaigns, and responded tremendously, outplaying their draft spot's average value by a significant margin.
Allen had one of the best seasons for a rookie tight end since 2000, with the seventh most yards as a rookie during that span.
Allen, who, along with Coby Fleener, was inevitably compared with Hernandez and Gronkowski of New England, had a relatively similar season to the Patriot tight ends as a rookie. With Allen and Fleener's role possibly increasing in Pep Hamilton's offense, Allen could have a special future ahead of him.
But Allen was also a fantastic blocker, with his combined pass and run blocking grade from Pro Football Focus the highest of any tight end in 2012. Blocking was Allen's best quality in 2012, and yet he still managed to have a more than respectable receiving season.
Chase Stuart' projected AV for the #64 overall pick is about 18 over five years. Dwayne Allen's rookie year puts him on pace for an AV of 30 over five years.
T.Y. Hilton's rookie season was no slouch either, historically.
Hilton struggled with drops at times (and is a real concern), but still managed to have the 14th most yards by a rookie receiver since 2000. While taking that in, remember that Hilton also only started one game, easily the least amount of any of the top 20 rookie receivers.
I've highlighted a few receivers who you could compare to Hilton well, as deep threats who aren't necessarily great possession receivers. Percy Harvin doesn't necessarily fit that role, but he does play a role that I could see Hilton in with Hamilton's offense. Hamilton has consistently spoken about getting the ball to his playmakers, and Hilton is one of the best. Like Minnesota has had to do with Harvin, the Colts will use Hilton in other roles than just a deep threat (screen passes, end-arounds, etc.).
Hilton's biggest threat though, is as a home run threat over the top. He led the team in touchdowns last season with eight (seven receveiving, one punt return), and not because he's a big target in the redzone. Just two of Hilton's touchdowns last season were less than 35 yards.
We can see that big-play threat in Hilton's yards per receptions numbers, in which he ended up 10th all-time in Colts' history.
Hilton had the highest Y/R since Bill Brooks in 1986, with Pierre Garcon's 2009 season the only season to come even a yard within Hilton's 2012 mark during the new millenium.
Stuart's Draft Value chart gives the #92 overall pick an average AV of about 16 over five years. Hilton is currently on pace for an AV of 40 over five years.
Of course, nothing is set in stone, but after years of poor luck in the third round for Indianapolis, Grigson looks to have picked up a pair of gems. We can only hope that Hugh Thornton follows suit.