The Indianapolis Colts got training camp started on Sunday morning, and GM Ryan Grigson was available to speak to the media for a bit. He answered a variety of questions, but I found it most interesting what he had to say about the discovery of Kenyan rugby player Daniel Adongo, and how the team goes about scouting the AFL, IFL, CFL, and other professional leagues.
So how did you find (Adongo)? Where did you hear of him?
Grigson: Last fall, we had started talking about it, and a pro scout of ours, John Shaw, was kinda delegated the duty of ‘Hey, this is your baby. Let’s see what you can do with it. See if you can give me a cluster of guys that are worthwhile and the right age group, the right traits, the right makeup [and to] actually be able to make the transition since it is a major one. But when you look as the roster is going from 80 to 90, we’d much rather as a staff, I don’t know about everybody else, but as a staff, we’d rather give the coaches something to work with than just a true camp body that we know is going to be cut in a week or two and is not going to help us get where we want to go.
Because of injuries, like we learned last year more than anybody, you have to have someone at least viable. If you have someone that can’t play or the arrow isn’t going up at all, even slightly, you’re not going to win when you’re playing a 16-game season. Then you factor in the playoffs. You need depth. So hopefully by the sixteenth week, some of these guys that you see in camp, you’re like ‘Wow, he’s got a long way to go.’ But we had guys like that last year that by mid-season you’re ready to put them in or someone from another team is trying to sign them. So that’s kind of a the mindset.
How much time is devoted to places like the AFL and CFL? Where do you find guys, as well as the overseas part of this?
Grigson: I don’t know how everyone else does it. I’ve been with two other teams. But I guess with me being in both those leagues, I don’t discriminate. Because I would see guys in those leagues where I would say, “Heck, I was in three NFL training camps. That guy can play. Why is he in this league?’ So I just figure we scour those leagues as best we can, and maybe we look at 250 guys and we find three guys that look like suspects. And out of three suspects, one guy can play.
Dominique Jones we got from Reading Express in a league that I don’t think probably 90 percent of people in this country know exist (Indoor Football League). But he came in here on a tryout, ended up being active our first six games [and] was on our practice squad most of the year. That was one of them. We had Teddy Williams. We had a bunch of guys, and that’s a credit to our pro scouts. Part of their job description is to study those other leagues and to get film. And it’s not easy, because first of all, it’s getting easier with the technology we have and the Internet in being able to upload those things, but the tape quality is always not that good.
And some of the places we’re trying to dig from, the tape quality is bad. But when you’re looking at players at small schools, in the same way in the college evaluation process, it takes patience. And you have to have guys that are willing to grind and each play say ‘Is that him?’ You can’t see the number, so as a scout you have to look at his manners. ‘Ok, that guy moves like the guy I’m supposed to be watching’ or ‘His socks are pulled up a certain height than the other corner on the other side, so that must be him.’ So if you have patience and you have a go-getter mindset like I feel like our scouts have, they’re gonna find a way to find players.
We don’t have those guys scout those leagues if we don’t want to find anybody. Don’t come to me and tell me after you looked at every guy in the CFL, Arena League, the IFL or UFL, don’t tell me out of 1000 bodies we can’t find three guys have a chance. It’s a numbers game.
The Colts have one of the most interesting front office operations in the NFL in my opinion, so getting Grigson to shed some light on how they go about business is a real treat. For more on Colts training camp, be sure to follow us on Twitter and keep checking back to Naptown’s Finest for updates!