Editor's Note: This is purely hypothetical fun. Olly was bored, which generally is when our most interesting things get done. If we get any angry comments/tweets/emails about how we hate Luck and need to let go of the past, blah, blah, blah I will never photoshop (ok, paint) Jim Irsay onto a fire-breathing stallion again. This is like using ESPN's trade machine and building a basketball team to rule all basketball teams. IT'S NOT A COMMENTARY ON HOW THE COLTS SHOULD HAVE KEPT MANNING. Are we clear? Ok. Good.- KJR
Last week on Twitter, I very casually floated the idea of playing a game. Former Browns GM Mike Holmgren admitted last week that he offered Ryan Grigson his entire haul of picks in the 2012 draft, in order to move up from the No. 4 spot and draft Andrew Luck.
Of course, your mind begins to wonder. What if we'd kept Peyton Manning? What if we'd got all those picks? Who would/could we have drafted?
Never fear, as my boredom and frightening love for the NFL Draft means I've put together a “What might have been” for the Colts. For the purposes of the challenge, we'll be assuming that the picks made by the Colts in 2012 will remain.
Colts selections in a “Keep Manning, Trade Luck” scenario: #4, #22, #34, #37, #64, #67, #92, #100, #136, #160, #170, #206, #208, #211, #214, #253
Round 1, Pick 4: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Here, we assume that Luck, Robert Griffin and Matt Kalil went in the first three picks, leaving a stud defensive back in our laps. The Colts desperately needed a cornerback in the 2012 draft but the Packers selected Casey Hayward just before Grigson was able to. In this scenario, Indy drafts Claiborne – therefore erasing the need to trade for Vontae Davis. He's flashed ability in Dallas already, and would have been a much needed boost to our secondary.
Round 1, Pick 22: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Another much needed addition to a pretty terrible team. DeCastro was the top guard prospect in the 2012 draft, and – barring an injury suffered like he did with the Steelers – would have consigned Mike McGlynn to backup role…where he belongs. Strong in the run and pass game, DeCastro would have improved our line immensely.
Round 2, Pick 34: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Round 2, Pick 37: Kendall Reyes, DE, Connecticut
With Pagano in charge, we'd have still moved to a 3-4 defense – meaning more pieces needed. Reyes was a natural fit as a 3-4 defensive end and has already racked up 5.5 sacks for the San Diego Chargers from that position.
Round 3, Pick 64: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Round 3, Pick 67: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
Hindsight is a wonderful thing…or is it? According to Adam Schefter, Grigson wanted to draft Russell Wilson to play backup to Andrew Luck. Luck hasn't been drafted in this scenario, but with an aging Peyton Manning coming off a bunch of neck surgeries, you have to think that Grigson would've actively sought a future starter…right?
Round 3, Pick 92: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International
Round 4, Pick 100: Frank Alexander, OLB, Oklahoma
The fourth round has been a bit of a disappointment, with very few players impressing from those selected. Regardless, this pick goes on Alexander, who would've added valuable depth at outside linebacker in our 3-4 scheme. Has featured sporadically for the Panthers, where he has 2.5 sacks as a backup to Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy.
Round 5, Pick 136: Josh Chapman, NT, Alabama
Round 5, Pick 160: Marvin Jones, WR, California
I loved Marvin Jones, and couldn't believe he went in the late stages of the fifth round. With Pierre Garcon gone, the Colts could've added Jones alongside Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton. Though he has just 18 receptions and one touchdown for the Bengals, Jones has flashed ability in his time with Cincinnati.
Round 5, Pick 170: Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State
Round 6, Pick 206: LaVon Brazill, WR, Ohio
Round 7, Pick 208: Justin Anderson, OG, Georgia
Round 7, Pick 211: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
Controversial to some, I know…but I'm a major supporter of taking troubled players in the seventh round. Barely any seventh picks make the roster anyway…see Fugger, Tim – so in that case, why not take talent and see if you can turn them around? I wanted Burfict at the time and still feel he could've added something at linebacker under Pagano.
Round 7, Pick 214: Tim Fugger, LB, Vanderbilt
Round 7, Pick 253: Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois
So after all that, we'd have come away with…two quarterbacks, a running back, three wide receivers, two tight ends, two guards, a defensive end, a nose tackle, two pass rushers, and an inside linebacker…oh, and Peyton Manning.
Of course, much of this is based on hindsight. Manning is in scintillating form and having al those picks could have made us an instant contender. Despite this, I still believe Ryan Grigson made the correct decision in letting Manning go and drafting Luck. I do also realise that it's almost impossible to hit on every draft pick, and it's easy to sit and say "we could've drafted player X" once you've seen them in the league…but sometimes, it's fun to wonder.