INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts ended a long wait Friday night by selecting guard Hugh Thornton in the third round of the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Illinois alum adds depth to an offensive line that the Colts have been trying to reinforce through free agency.
Thornton played in 42 career games for the Fighting Illini, starting 35 at guard and tackle and possesses the sort of versatility NFL teams covet. The Colts will initially use him at guard.
He graded out as Illinois' top offensive lineman last season, was a second-team all-Big Ten selection by the coaches and Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said the Colts had him graded well since August. Another factor was that the coach who recruited and coached him at Illinois is now on the Colts staff, something Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano said could make the transition to the NFL a little smoother.
Clearly, the Colts have been trying to reinforce a line that gave up too many sacks and dozens more hits on No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck last season.
Grigson signed right tackle Gosder Cherilus from Detroit in free agency, then almost immediately turned around and signed guard Donald Thomas from New England, too.
Now Indy has added another guard, who Grigson described as big, strong and nasty.
For the Colts, it took more than three hours to get him.
After selecting defensive end-linebacker Bjoern Werner with the 24th overall selection Thursday night and introducing him to reporters on Friday afternoon, the Colts waited and waited to make their first and only pick of the second day, No. 86 overall. Indy gave up its second-round choice to Miami in last August's trade for Vontae Davis.
Grigson said there were players who tempted them to move up but they never seriously considered making a deal.
Indy will have its busiest day of the three-day draft on Saturday when they have four picks -- one in the fourth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.