Colts take Clemson safety T.J. Green in second round
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) An upright, healthy quarterback is always a happy quarterback. And Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck should be very happy.
After the third round of the draft ended on Friday night, one thing was almost certain: The Colts should be able to do a better job protecting their franchise quarterback next season.
The Colts took Texas Tech offensive lineman Le'Raven Clark with the No.82 overall pick in the third round, one night after selecting Alabama center Ryan Kelly with the 18th overall pick.
At 6-foot-5, 316 pounds, Clark was certainly on the radar of coach Chuck Pagano. General manager Ryan Grigson said he loved the fifth-year senior because of his 51 career starts for Texas Tech and his long arms, some 36-plus inches each.
''We wanted to get players that had starter ability. We want to solidify that group,'' Grigson said.
Kelly could likely be the Colts starting center come September. And the potential is no different for Clark, who is expected to be competing for a starting spot well.
Clark said he was looking forward to the opportunity.
''I know I'm going to be blocking for Andrew Luck. It doesn't get much better than that,'' Clark said.
The Colts also picked speedy Clemson safety T.J. Green with the No. 57 overall pick in the second round. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Green was a former wide receiver who switched to the defensive side of the ball. Green surprised scouts at the NFL combine with a 4.34 second 40-yard dash. Veteran safety Mike Adams is entering the final year of his contract with Indianapolis.
Green, who was Clemson's third-leading tackler, recorded 130 total tackles, five of which were for a loss, and one interception in 2015. Green started all 15 games in 2015 and 10 games in 2014 for the Tigers.
''I felt like I was a first round pick and I feel like (the Colts) got a first round player in the second round,'' Green said. ''I'm just excited to be a Colt.''
Indianapolis had only 35 sacks and the 22nd-ranked pass rush in the NFL last season. There were defensive linemen available, but the Colts had no intention of drafting anyone other than Green if he was available, Grigson said. The Colts felt that way with their pick at No.48 and still felt that way even after swapping picks with the Packers and getting Green Bay's fourth- and seventh-round picks in the deal.
''We were hopeful that T.J. would still be there. All we had to do was wait. And we did. We rolled the dice a little bit. And we still got our guy,'' Grigson said. ''It doesn't always happen like that. It's something that was discussed and wanted to accomplish, to try and acquire more picks in this draft, and we did.''
The Colts have five picks on Saturday, two in round four, one in round five and two in the seventh and final round of the draft.